The tiny village of Ukarumpa in Papua, New Guinea, has few roads, few citizens.
But now, thanks to the efforts of Paul and Sylvia Hollinger, WDAC(FM) and international religious organization HCJB Global, these peasants who call it home are listening to Christian words and music from a newly-constructed local FM station.
(click thumbnail)The Hollingers, front row right, are shown at a meeting of the International Council of Broadcasters in 1998.This is just a part of what the Hollingers have accomplished over 40 years.
HCJB’s first Timothy Award was presented to the couple in recognition of their work in helping to fund projects such as the internationally-syndicated one-minute radio show “Beyond the Call,” hosted by HCJB’s Dr. Ron Cline; their assistance in setting up Russian AM/FM radio network New Life Radio; and efforts toward putting solar-powered, fixed-tuned radios into the hands of listeners around the world.
The Timothy Award is a bronze replica of the RCA microphone used at station HCJB in Quito, Ecuador, in the 1940s. It is given to individuals partnering with HCJB Global who exhibit characteristics that the apostle Paul asked of Timothy, one of his disciples.
“Our mission to bring the word of Christ to the world started in 1963 when I heard a minister named Abe Van der Puy preaching in Florida,” said Paul Hollinger, a long-time Pennsylvania radio broadcaster who retired in January.
“This minister said, ‘We must all learn to scratch where it itches,’ and I was taken by that message. Starting in 1965 we partnered with HCJB, which stands for Heralding Christ Jesus’ Blessings, because my wife Sylvia and I were impressed with that ministry’s ability to get the gospel into places like China and the former Soviet Union, where no missionaries were allowed.”
In the 1960s HCJB used shortwave, which the Soviets were using to try to spread the message of communism.
“Now almost everyone has FM, even primitive Third World countries,” said Hollinger. “When the Soviet Union collapsed, it stopped using shortwave. That medium is almost a thing of the past. Instead of shortwave, HCJB came out with these little suitcase FM radios, fed by satellite.”
The world outreach of HCJB was helped by the Hollingers during their tenure at WDAC in Lancaster, Pa.
“From 1961 through 2006, Paul was our general manager and COO,” said Doug Myer, who holds those positions at the station today.
“Paul’s wife, Sylvia, was here 25 years and she was editor of our program guide and was also an administrative assistant. Paul was on the board of the National Religious Broadcasters for 40 years, and it was through that organization that he developed relationships with religious leaders around the world.
“One of their station projects was to organize donations of Christian CDs from our listeners so that HCJB could distribute them in other countries,” Myer continued.
“We also provided solar-powered radios to Africa and Papua New Guinea where a network of Christian stations was built. Our local listeners helped to fund that by partnering with HCJB.”
Work local, think global
WDAC is a commercial station, of which the Hollingers own a third. The rest is owned by Dick and Dan Crawford. WDAC Radio Company is the official license holder; no listener donations are used in the operation of the station.
The format is about 30 percent Bible teaching, 20 percent talk and news, and 50 percent inspirational Christian music. WDAC employs about 25 people and bills several million dollars a year.
“This is a very evangelical Christian part of the country, ever since the Mennonites settled here in 1710 as a safe haven from persecution in Europe,” said Hollinger. “We ask our listeners for money, but it doesn’t go to us. It goes to fund various Christian projects around the world.”
One of these projects was distributing a book by Josh McDowell about Jesus called “More Than a Carpenter,” throughout Russia and Estonia. Another project called “Turn Your Radios On” was dreamed up to provide solar-powered radios to the people of Africa, and in particular, to Muslim countries in the northern part of that continent.
A more local initiative involved the purchase of inexpensive fixed-tune radios which are used in Lancaster to receive WDAC’s main signal at 94.5 FM, and the 92 kHz subcarrier, which offers Christian programming in Spanish. A flip-switch selects the English programming from WDAC or the Spanish programming, which is provided via satellite from HCJB. These portable radios can run on battery or AC.
The Hollingers document each of these listener-supported projects with pictures and videos so that contributors can see where their money is going.
Radio gets results
“Radio is very healthy,” said Hollinger. “It’s not in danger of dying now any more than it was when TV came on the scene in the 1950s. But people have a very short attention span so I’m concerned about the next generation not having an interest in talk programming. Listeners have so many more options now.”
Radio World asked Hollinger if he was pleased that both XM and Sirius offer religious channels as a part of their satellite services.
“Well, Howard Stern has more satellite channels than Christians do,” he said.
Myer noted that the Hollingers are graduates of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.
“They are both passionate about their relationship with Jesus Christ and about sharing what Christ has done in their lives,” he said. “When Paul began working at WDAC, he never dreamed he would be here 45 years. He started out training as a pastor, and it turned out that his flock has included hundreds of thousands of people over the years, thanks to radio.”
HCJB has been a part of that long period of radio service.
“The Timothy Award came as a surprise to us,” said Sylvia Hollinger. “We are humbled by it. It is a joy to work with a first-class organization like HCJB. Their ministry goes far beyond radio as they also own hospitals and really do a lot to help people.”
HCJB has its U.S. headquarters in Colorado Springs, with regional offices in Brazil, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Paraguay. For information on the ministry of HCJB Global, visit www.hcjb.org. To discover WDAC (“The Voice”) and its HD2 channel, “Hope, Music for the Heart,” log onto www.wdac.com.