By Dale Zmijewski
“Is there a need for a Lutheran radio station in the Wyoming Valley?"
This was the question posed by a few people from around the Northeastern Pennsylvania
Synod. Our response was and is that there is a need to tell people about Jesus,
whenever and wherever possible.
The story of HOPE Radio began several years ago. A small group of Lutherans in
the Wyoming Valley had a dream filled with hope. The dream was to operate a low-power
FM radio station in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Mission District as a witness tool
as well as a community service.
An application was filed with the FCC in Washington and the process began.
Warren Storosko and members of Saint John’s Lutheran Church in Nanticoke
championed the project. With no money but a lot of hope, they reached out to
other congregations in the Wyoming Valley for support.
The call was answered by congregations in Wilkes-Barre, Kingston, Mountaintop,
and Dallas. An informational meeting was held to explain the proposed project. “This
is not a ministry of St. John’s, Nanticoke, but rather a ministry of several
ELCA congregations in our mission district.” said Warren Storosko. "Working
together, we can achieve the impossible."
The HOPE-FM team, comprised of members of several churches, has done just that.
In less than a year from the time the FCC granted a construction permit, the
team has raised the funds to build the soundproof studios, erected a radio tower
inside the spire of Saint John’s, Nanticoke, and purchased over $25,000
worth of equipment.
They raised the money through donations from the Worship and Spirituality Ministry
Team, individuals, churches, and a variety of projects. Messiah and Saint Mark
Lutheran Churches in Wilkes-Barre baked cookies. Saint Paul in Mountaintop had
a dinner and Saint John in Wilkes-Barre donated funds.
These projects and many others, coupled with prayers, brought about a miracle.
At midnight on March 19, 2007, A Mighty Fortress broadcast loud and clear at
94.5 megahertz as HOPE-FM took to the airwaves.
In a brief service the following week, the station was dedicated to the use of
ELCA congregations in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area.
Hope-FM plays a mixture of popular Christian music with solid theological foundations.
Twice weekly, the radio station broadcasts GRACE Matters, the radio ministry
of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, featuring host Peter Marty.
Volunteers are now the key to the success of the radio station. With more hands,
the radio station can branch out and offer more programming. Plans include a
daily hymn hour and weekly radio messages from pastors in the mission district,
as well as live broadcasts of Lutheran worship services.
The station offers a
community newsletter available to all churches as well as nonprofit groups such
as the Scouts. This offers a new and exciting way to communicate church happenings
to the general public.
The opportunity to be in people’s homes, cars, and offices 24 hours a day
with messages of HOPE is truly a gift not taken lightly by the staff of WVHO.