In the early 1980’s Christian music radio networks as they exist today were yet to be created. Contemporary Christian music itself was barely a trickle compared to its cultural presence in 2007. But the 1980’s would prove to be a pioneering decade for the Christian pop and rock airwaves. One of those waves started on the shores of Southwest Florida and in the twenty years that followed, crossed the country and changed the way Christian radio was done.
Bob and his wife Felice had moved back to Fort Myers, Florida mainly to raise their children near family. Bob took on the position of Program Director at WSOR in Fort Myers. WSOR catered mostly to the senior citizen community which was the majority of the population. On-air, Bob handled the morning show, targeted at a 45+ audience but he sensed something was missing. Something was missing, but not just at that station — it was missing culturally, nationwide. So Bob approached his superiors with the idea of committing at least a segment of air time to the area’s college and high school community. There was concern about confusing or losing a handful of their target listeners, but still there was clearly a need that wasn’t being met and the station stepped up to bat. At the time, Bob recounts, “there was perhaps one album coming out every six months,” which would make programming a weekly segment hard enough. New music to program a station’s daily playlist was out of the question.
“Why Can’t We Start A Station Of Our Own?
What is going to minister to these kids now?” Bob and Felice asked themselves leaving that evening. There were now over a hundred more teens with a new and questioning faith in the immediately surrounding area but with no Christian music alternative to turn to on the air until Saturday night. Crossing the Caloosahatchee Bridge that night Felice dropped the nine words that would, not immediately, but gradually change their lives and millions of others’. “I was so touched by what went on at that concert,” she recalls, “that I turned to Bob and said, ’Why can’t we start a station of our own?’” In his own words, Bob admits his first reaction was, “That’s impossible.” “Big man of faith,” Bob jokes now, sitting on what had grown into global impact. “I was making around $13,000 a year with two kids attending Christian schools — already having no idea how that was possible — and aside from financial impossibilities, we knew nothing about how to start or sustain a radio station. I put a blanket on the idea right away.”
Felice had planted a seed, though, that would refuse to lay dormant. “I didn’t give it too much thought after that night,” Bob admits. “But every so often it would come up again. Something would stir the notion.” WSOR was being serviced with new contemporary releases that weren’t usable for their older demographic, and Bob would take them home, prompting Felice to start on the seed again: “Why can’t the station play this music? It ministers to me.” She could see that her husband was feeling God’s nudge to “go and do,” but that he was stuck on the “what and how.” She recalls telling him, “Bob, the young people in this area so badly need a station like this and you’re not going to be fulfilled or happy until you step out and see if God will open the door. If you’re not knocking on the door, then how do you know that God can’t come through for us? You say you believe that He can do anything and yet your refuse to pursue the idea.”