Church Flips Switch on Christian Radio Station
For more than a decade, Pastor Ben Lawson, of Calvary Chapel of the Sandhills in Aberdeen, has dreamed of using a local radio station to bring contemporary Christian music to Moore County.
It's a dream that has stalled numerous times and even nearly died over the past decade. But just like a catchy riff from your favorite tune that gets stuck in your head, the idea wouldn't go away. It survived four signal tower moves, three frequency changes, and numerous other stops and starts.
All the while Lawson, his congregation and other supporters kept moving toward making the dream reality.
"It has been a long trip," Lawson said. "Many times I wanted to give up, but our board, our congregation wouldn't let me."
This week it became reality.
The locally owned and operated station, WAOG FM 100.7, will play a mix of today's contemporary Christian music. The station will also feature a regular lunch hour of biblical teachings along with on-air hosts, live shows and, of course, plenty of music.
"During work time and drive time, it will be all music," said WAOG's program director Lindsay Johnson.
The station will be on-air 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is also a broadcast ministry of Calvary Chapel of the Sandhills, located at 201 W. South St. in Aberdeen.
"We finally ate the elephant, but it took us 10 years and a whole lot of small bites," Lawson said.
The station's call letters stand for the "Whole Armor of God," and the station will go by the moniker "the shield."
After several months of testing signal strength and working out the bugs that come with any new endeavor, the station went live on Sunday. It has been well-received so far.
"People were ecstatic, because they've been on this journey with us," Johnson said.
Lawson said he is a big fan of radio and its ability to reach a wide audience. He said ever since he was in his 20s, he wondered why radio stations didn't play more music.
Lawson said he wants the radio station to be about more than just his church.
"I want everyone to be a part of it," Lawson said. "I want everyone in the community to own it."
For those using a radio, the station can be picked up in Aberdeen, Pinehurst and Southern Pines. For those outside the area of the signal, the station can also be heard through its Internet stream at www.theshieldfm.com. Johnson said a smartphone app is also planned. The station also has a Facebook page and a Twitter account.
Johnson said the streaming feature is something that will allow people outside the area to access the station.
"There are a lot of military families, and now they can stay in touch with their community, no matter where they are, through online streaming," she said.
Lawson and Johnson, who is his daughter, see the venture as one that is for the entire community.
"This is for the Christian community," Johnson said. "We say it is owned by God and operated by Calvary Chapel Church."
Said Lawson: "The main focus of the station is to lift our God up, and to lift up people's day."
Both said representatives from other churches have been supportive of the radio station, mentioning it to their congregations.
Johnson thanked some of those who helped make the radio station a reality, including Mr. and Mrs. Cliff Nielson, Mr. and Mrs. Joe Diering, Mr. and Mrs. Tommy Beard, and Mr. and Mrs. Pete Van Camp; and businesses like McNeil Oil and Propane, Aberdeen Coca-Cola and Lee Electric.
The station is looking for business underwriters, Johnson said.
Those interested are asked to call Ashley Baker at (910) 757-0466, or go online to www.theshieldfm.com.
Contact Tom Embrey at (910) 693-2484 or tembrey@ thepilot.com.
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