Mount Vernon Nazarene College is stepping into its dream of an FM stereo Christian radio station.
One of the many steps taken recently is very noticeable when looking at the campus skyline, especially from Martinsburg Road (State Route 586). It’s a 300-foot tower, very colorful at night with the red flashing lights, which will transmit an alternative for radio listeners in Mount Vernon.
After four years of legal hassles, the college constructed a tower and purchased a transmitter, and began transmitting on a program test authority, broadcasting as WNZR at 90.9 megahertz on the FM dial the first week in May.
WNZR transmits 100-watts from the tower, located between Lakeholm Church of the Nazarene and the college. MVNC speech communication professor Henry Smith, who directs the radio effort, said the station’s signal is strong in the Mount Vernon area and can be heard very well over most of Knox County.
“We have two fully-equipped studios. One studio can be used for broadcasting full-time, while the other can be used to train students and also for production,” said Smith.
“In the past, we’ve had to clear out to give any student the time to practice. Last fall term I was giving students 1 ½ hours of practice per week. That’s not enough.”
Programming music has not been the only focus, as students interested in sports have had the opportunity to do play-by-play or commentary of MVNC athletic events, while those with a nose for news have had access to the Associated Press (which the college began using in 1983) and gathered campus information. Plans are underway to develop news contacts around the community.
The station’s programming has the community in mind, featuring special drive times from 6-9 a.m. and 3-6 p.m. which target the widest possible audience. Contemporary Christian music, news, and community needs will highlight programming during the evening hours.
“During the test period, we really didn’t advertise that we were on the air, but the response has been amazing. People have said they’re enjoying the variety of Christian music. Others are impressed by the sound quality of WNZR. Of course, the students are very excited by broadcasting and by the response.”
Reprinted from The Mount Vernon Nazarene College Communicator, Summer Issue, 1986