WGRW Grace Radio 90.7 FM

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 [ _Grace is on the Air

"Grace is on the air" 
by Daira Jarrell, staff writer, The Anniston Star

Steve Green will not let you sit there and hide, he will find you in the crowd and speak to you. He says he doesn't have a choice.

"I have something that I must say," Green says, his voice soft, even. "And God doesn't let you - (hide)."

Green is a pop star of sorts, but you won't find his records in your average used CD shop. He is famous, but only if you are a listener in the ever-expanding realm of con-temporary Christian music. He is considered handsome and charismatic by many of his fans, but he phones his wife on aloud speaker in front of every new crowd.
The women like it," Green says, laughing at his own joke. "People had questions, a lot of people were suspicious: 'Is he faithful to his wife ?" It dispels questions and sets some people at ease."
He says he has many messages in his songs, but people won't hear what he has to say unless they trust him first.

"Instead of just being random information," Green says, "my songs are specifically written to help instruct, encourage and explain the Gospel."

That doesn't stop fan Cathy Wilson from appreciating Green's music through emotion, not by analyzing their meaning.

"Steve Green is an awesome singer," Ms. Wilson croons. "He can melt your heart."

Ms. Wilson will sing in a back-up choir with Green when he performs Saturday at the First Baptist Church of Saks. Green always assembles a group of about 50 local singers from various church choirs to support him during shows.

Green has won six Dove Awards for excellence in Christian music, produced 18 No. I songs and received four Grammy nominations, but remembers how to, laugh with his fans, how to kneel down and hold their hand in prayer after an exhausting show. He is said to do it without pomp, without arrogance.

"He is genuine," says Jon Holder, the one-man radio station of Grace Radio, WGRW 90.7.

Green, however, may be more than just a nice guy. He is a representative of a bigger awakening in Christian communications not just here, but throughout the nation. WGRW and a Christian station in Piedmont did not just go on air in the past year without reason. They had recognized a musical and spiritual void.

According to spokesman Karl Stoll of National Religious Broadcasters, a Virginia organization' that surveys stations each year for program content, the number of television and radio stations that carry religious programs are at a record high.

During 1998 to 1999, 115 stations began carrying Christian programs, according to the 2000 NRB Directory of Religious

Media. It was the third consecutive year the NRB recorded an increase.
Locally, the response to WGRW "has been overwhelming," Holder says. The station is responsible for bringing Green to the area, which Holder says is "one of the biggest events, Christian wise, for this area- period.,,
Area Christian radio stations are unlike regular stations in more ways than just programming. Holder says they do not compete for listeners since all are nonprofit.
"We're just here to do the ministry," Holder says.
To Randall Reeves, the minister of music for seven years at the Saks church, the rise in popularity of Christian music is not a surprise.
Music both inside church doors and out has of course always been apart of religious worship, he says, but it is becoming more vibrant in previously cool settings.
"There was a period of time when some folks. saw (music) as a warm up," Reeves says.

Like many primarily black southern churches discovered decades ago, Reeves says other-congregations are beginning to use music to encourage more and more participation.

"It's a real time of praise and worship," Reeves says, "It is not something we do to wait until the preacher preaches. Real worship is through communication with God."

But Ms. Wilson, who has sang in the choir for 18 years, says it has not always been that way at Saks.

"It's more vibrant now," she says, chuckling, "at least since brother Randall came anyway."

Churches that once sang only long, complex hymns are now considered traditional as congregations move toward using more praise choruses - songs that normally do not have verses in them but repeat key phrases.

"They're much easier to remember," Reeves says.

Christian music singers and the radio stations that carry them may also be serving another purpose in the religious sphere by breaking barriers between denominations. Music may allow worshipers to focus on the message of God rather than thediffer6nces between how congregations interpret their savior's word.

I don't know of any (Christian musicians) that target their music, toward any denomination," Holder says.

And when Green sings Saturday," there won't just be a group of Baptists there," he adds.

Children will be invited to sing. Audience members can speak. Maybe even those whose faith is in doubt will be there for the music and be revived.
As Green says: "Music can cross so many boundaries."


Jon Holder: It begins with Grace in the Morning
By George Smith 02-07-2001


 J.C. Lexow/The Anniston Star: Jon Holder reports the weather forecast for the week.

PHOTO: J.C. Lexow/The Anniston Star: Jon Holder reports the weather forecast for the week.

The voice to radio is born.

You hear the word "Grace" an awful lot.

Jon Holder is "the voice" and, WGRW, 90.7 on the FM dial, is "Grace" ... as in "Grace Radio."

The voice isn't heard all that much, even though it belongs to the station's general manager.

But it can jump-start your mornings, Monday through Friday, when Holder hosts "Grace in The Morning," 30 minutes of weather, interviews and whatever notes of interest to the "Grace" audience may cross his desk.

"We talk people in to work and to school with something that's local and Christian, something uplifting and positive," says Holder.

Pausing for a second, Holder adds, "The main thing is you're not going to hear anything that's objectionable on this station."

Which brings to fore the source of 85 percent of the station's programming. It comes from the Moody Broadcasting Network, a Chicago-based operation that originates and feeds Christian talk, teaching, music and news to stations nationwide ... and beyond.

"Moody is the largest and most conservative network in the country," says Holder.

Monday's "Grace in The Morning" was unusual in that it was taped Friday. That was the only time the guest, Peter LaLonde, was available. LaLonde is the producer of the new Christian movie, "Left Behind," which opened at the Quintard Mall this past weekend.

PHOTO:Dr. Eric Alexander, one of the world's noted Bible teachers, on the air in the Grace Radio Studios recently with Jon Holder.  Dr. Alexander is one of many guests that drop in on Grace In The Morning weekdays at 7:30.

"It's probably going to be the biggest Christian movie ever made," says Holder. To land the producer was a pretty big deal for the local station.

"We look for Christian guests for the morning show," says Holder. "At least once a week, we bring in a pastor or someone of that nature to talk about their church.

"We try to be an information station. We try to plug in to people who are into different Christian ministries in our area. Sometimes it might be a Christian concert or a seminar, maybe a revival going on. We bring in people to talk about things like that.

"There's a lot going on in the Christian community," he adds. "We do a lot of church announcements. They like that."

Above all, whatever is done, local or otherwise, the theme is nondenominational.

"The bottom line is we really do stress to people that we are nondenominational, that we are not affiliated with any one church. If you are a Christian and believe in the Bible, you'll find a home here, regardless of denomination."

Holder, who has been in love with radio since he was a small boy, is not only the station manager, but its only employee.

While the station is just about fully automated, his days are busy.

After his morning show, Holder gets into the daily tasks of downloading programs off satellite dishes, from CDs and from tapes. All of that has to be recorded into the computer in real time. If a program is 13 minutes, it takes 13 minutes to download.

"I usually take one day a week to do that," he says. "We can download a week of programming, Monday through Friday."

Holder also spends a lot of time representing the station wherever the opportunity presents itself. He didn't say as much, but the PR work may have a little to do with not only building WGRW's audience, but its financial support as well.

"We are a nonprofit station," says Holder. "That's our charter; that's our license. We are totally listener supported. We depend on contributions from our listeners, from whomever."

The station is the brainchild of Aaron Acker, who is also the president of Acker Electric. The station's studio is in Acker Electric's offices.

"Word Works Inc. owns the station," says Holder. "Aaron is Word Works' president. He first started working on the station in 1992."

Holder went to work for the station at the beginning of construction, with "Grace Radio" airing its initial broadcast June 30, 1999.

For Holder, 30, the station is a career. He sees himself here 10 years from now, 20 years from now.

"This is the best of both worlds for me," says Holder, a committed Christian. "Number one is, it's a ministry. Number two is, I'm able to work in radio, my first love.

"Being able to work for the Lord and still work in radio is the best of both worlds for me. And you couldn't ask for a better person to work for than Aaron Acker. There has not been a single day since I've been here that I've dreaded coming to work. A lot of people can't say that."

There was one final thought from Holder.

"I've been blessed much better than I deserve," he said.

George Smith's column appears Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. He can be reached at 235-9207 or e-mail: gsmith731@aol.com.



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WGRW is a proud affiliate of the Moody Broadcasting Network (MBN), and is your local source for their quality, Bible-based programming. Moody has always been "a name that you can trust," and we intend to support that strong tradition.

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Listener Supported

Your support of WGRW is prayerfully appreciated!  Listener-supported, non-profit, and non-commercial means we are not funded in the ways of a traditional commercial radio station.  We depend solely on the financial support of those wishing to share in the ministry of quality Christian radio.  After a time in prayer, if you, your family or business feel led to contribute to the ministry of Grace Radio, please contact us at the address and phone number listed below.


WGRW Grace Radio 90.7 FM

Post Office Box 2555  /  Anniston, Alabama 36202

Phone: 256-238-9990
FAX:    256-237-1102


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