The concept of a low-frequency FM radio station serving Wadesboro and Anson County came from Dr. Al Joyner, former pastor of FUMC. In December 2002, Dr. Joyner took advantage of a "window of opportunity" and applied for a construction permit for a low-power FM radio station. The Federal Communications system granted this permit in April 2003. The late Bill Billingsley undertook the leadership to construct the station, with much assistance from Dr. Joyner, Dr. Bob Davis, Tim Hildebrandt and Jeff Watts of Statesville.
FUMC received the James S. Bellamy Television/Radio Award from the Conference Committee on Communications at the Annual Conference in June 2004. Also in June, the Administrative Council appointed Lonnie Baucom as Chief Operator. Subcommittees were appointed: Format, chaired by Sandy Bruney, and Finance, chaired by Dr. Bob Davis.
Licensing was obtained from ASCAP, BMI and SESAC to legally play copywrighted music on the airways.
Equipment was put together with the help of many interested parties, including broadcasting friends of the late Bill Billingsley, whose dream was to see the radio station come into being.
Operations and Format began to put together a library of music. Andrew Puryear began the effort by recording music from CD's. Lonnie and Jim Bruney learned the software, Digilink Free, to automate the station by computer. This entailed many hours of work, but we now have over 1,500 songs in our digital library.
The Format Committee agreed that almost all kinds of music should be played except that which is not in accordance with the teachings of the First United Methodist Church. Hymns, spirituals, Christian Rock, seasonal, "oldies", big band, country and western religious, soft rock and easy listening are among the styles listeners will enjoy.
As WEHB-LP grows, we will add PSAs (Public Service Announcements) about community events such as cultural events, fundraisers, and school closings. We also have the capability now to interrupt broadcasting with severe weather alerts. And, our Sunday morning worship service is broadcast each Sunday at 10:55 a.m.
Station WEHB-LP 98.3 officially signed on the air on Sept. 7 at 7 a.m. in order to meet the Oct. 14 deadline imposed by the FCC.
Jeff Watts filed an application with the FCC for full licensing, which was accepted on Sept. 24. It could take from 90 days to six months before the application is accepted or denied; during the review period we will continue to operate under our construction permit, which was automatically extended after the license aplication was accepted.
We are now using an antenna on the side of the H.W. Little Building until we obtain clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration to use the taller antenna on top of the building. Clearance is needed because of the antenna's nearness to the Jeff Cloud Airport. Once this is granted, we expect to cover most of Anson County.
We are looking for sponsorships to fund this program. At present, the Finance Committee, chaired by Dr. Bob Davis, is looking at fee structuring to offer to businesses, organizations and individuals who wish to help keep this ministry going.
Other committee members are Betty A. Crawford, George Matthews, Rick & Carol Beam, Ed McBride, Richard Morrison, Betsy Haskell, Nancy Fuller and Nancy Huntley. Ex-Officio members are Holly Little and Matt Comer, who will provide the committee with input from our youth.