Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Early years of WCRF-FM..

To tell the story of the early years of Moody Radio outlet WCRF, it is necessary to go back to the 20's when radio was just getting established.

In 1925, an emergency program by two Moody Bible Institute cornet players led to the Institute establishing WMBI-AM in 1926.

Through the 1930's and 40's WMBI became a leader in Christian radio through doing everything as professionally as possible and developing many programs for eventual syndication to other areas, including Drama, Music, and teaching programs..
Advertisement from 1950-The 24th anniversary of WMBI..

Record of Musical Groups at WMBI..Probably including names such as the Melody Four Quartet, Sixteen Singing Men, Bill Pearce, Helen Barth..All had long careers in Moody Radio..

Recording from Miss Helen Barth

Record from Sixteen Singing Men..

Fast forward to the 1950's. FM 103.3 had been used from approximately 1949-1951 for WCUO-FM in Cleveland operated by Labor Unions, who also operated WDET Detroit..WCUO closed down 1n 1951 and the license turned back into the FCC.

In 1958, A Group of Christian Businessmen in the the Cleveland area wanted to establish a Christian Radio Station and turned to the Moody Bible Institute for help and guidance. MBI agreed to help fund and staff the new station, provided the Cleveland area eventually support the station financially on its own.
Cleveland Plain Dealer Story of the opening of WCRF-November 23, 1958.

The hours of the station were limited to 1-9PM Monday-Saturday and 9AM-9PM Sunday. John Rader was the first station manager.

 Programming at first was just about all from Chicago, using programs and titles well known to WMBI listeners and nationally syndicated Christian programming..

Possibly the first WCRF paid ad in The Plain Dealer December 6, 1958.

The Following is a real rarity. The very first WCRF Schedule, copied on Notepad from the weekly Orrville, Ohio Courier-Crescent Wednesday, November 26, 1958..

WCRF-FM 103.3 Cleveland-First Program Schedule November 23-29, 1958..

1PM Keep Praising
1:15 Open Bible
1:30 Songs Of Zion
1:45 Radio Prayer Circle
2PM News
2:05 Feature Page
2:15 Something to Sing About
2:30 Continued Story Reading
3PM News
3:05 Back To The Bible
3:30 Story
3:45 Listening Post
4PM Headlines
4:02 Bandstand
4:15 Missionary Time
4:30 My Song
4:45 Patterns Of Melody
5PM News
5:05 At Your Service
5:15 Candlelight and Silver
6PM News Digest
6:15 Question Box
6:30 Bit Of Heaven
6:45 Stories Of Great Christians
7PM Headlines
7:02 Bread Of Life
7:30 Sunset Ranch
7:45 Verse By Verse
8PM Headlines
8:02 Music Room
8:45 Decision Time
9PM Sign-Off


1PM (WMBI) Male Quartet
1:15 Sailor Sam
1:30 Ranger Bill
2PM News
2:05 Science In The News
2:15 Miracles and Melodies
2:30 Off The Record
3PM News
3:05 Back To The Bible
3:30 Meet The Students
4PM Headlines
4:02 Saturday Musicale
5PM News
5:05 Church Activities
5:15 Candlelight and Silver
6PM News Digest
6:15 Youth For Christ
6:30 American Crusade
7PM Headlines
7:02 Haven Of Rest
7:30 Testimony Time
7:45 Hymns You Love
8PM Headlines
8:02 Music Room
8:30 Chorus Time
8:45 Decision Time
9PM Sign-Off


9AM Songsters
9:30 Radio Bible Class
10AM News
10:05 Chapel Hour
10:30 Worship
11AM Local Church Service
12:15 WMBI Male Quartet
12:30 News
12:35 Music Hall
1PM Old Fashioned Revival Hour
1:30 Baptist Hour
2PM Temple Time
2:30 Unshackled
3PM KYB Club
3:30 Hour Of Decision
4PM Headlines
4:02 Male Chorus
4:15 Lorin Whitney (organist)
4:45 Helen Barth (soloist)
5PM Dr. Walter L. Wilson
5:30 Al Hirsch
5:45 B. M. Nottage
6PM Moody Presents
6:30 Candlelight and Silver
7PM Quiet Hour
7:30 Organ Vespers
8PM Open Bible
8:15 Dr. (William) Culbertson
8:45 Familiar Hymns
9PM Sign-Off
Another group was the Melody Four Quartet..The same four men sang together for over 50 years..Glenn Jorian, Clair Hess, Bill Pearce and Ray Felten. For many years a part of WCRF programming, Individual members also had programs on Moody Radio at one time or another..

Things started slowly for WCRF, as FM was still just getting established.  I heard a story that WCRF sold FM radios at cost just to get people to listen at first..As the station grew, people trusted the message of the Gospel being brought forth via radio..

Part of getting out the message about WCRF included "Radio Rallies" in which staff from Chicago would come to area churches and introduce Moody Radio in person. Below are ads/articles for a couple of such rallies..

Mansfield, Ohio May 14, 1959:
Elyria, Ohio May 9, 1959:
In 1960 New York State native Bob Devine arrived at WCRF as a producer and engineer..Eventually becoming host of the Clockwatcher morning program from about 1965 till his retirement in 2000..He was a fine gentleman and broadcaster, by far and away the most recognized voice on WCRF, also doing Storybook Room for the Network..

Bob Devine Tribute

On  January 1, 1964, WCRF extended it's hours from 7AM-11PM at night..

1961 Advertisement for WCRF

From The Orrville Paper, November 1966-Eighth Anniversary article
1968-Tenth Anniversary Conference..By this time WCRF was well established in Northeast Ohio
Many memorable folks have worked at, or are currently at WCRF, including Alice Andrews, Paul Carter, Mark Zimmerman, Ron Bartlebaugh, Sylvia Docking, Dick Lee, Brandt Gustafson and a host of others..WCRF went 24 hours January 1, 1980 and began, with Moody Broadcasting Network Satellite delivery of  programming in 1982.  WCRF also has repeater stations all over Northeast Ohio and Western Pennsylvania..

Melody Four Quartet-Heaven Came Down

Sample "Ranger Bill" episode from 1954..Aired on Saturdays for many years..

I have many fond memories of listening to WCRF in the 1970's through the 1980's.Amazingly some of the same programs aired during the first week schedule continued well into the 1990's and beyond..WCRF has left a legacy of quality Christian Radio in Northeast Ohio and I am grateful for that..