When the idea of a Christian radio station in Lima, Ohio was first discussed there were skeptics who felt that Lima -- and this area of Northwest Ohio-- were not large enough or affluent enough to support a non-commercial Christian station.
But the Lord, who gave the idea, brought it to fruition, and from 1966 to today, we continue to witness the Good News. Peter Courlas, former board member of WFCJ (93.7) in Miamisburg, Ohio had the original vision for Christian radio in the Lima area. After coming to Lima to pastor the Christian Missionary Alliance Church, he realized that there were no Christian radio stations here. The only programs available were two or three half-hour Christian programs that were featured once a week on a local Lima radio station. And, if the atmospheric conditions were just right, some people could occasionally hear WEEC (100.7) out of Springfield, Ohio.
Pastor Courlas shared the dream with businessman Stanley Tam and Art Arthur at the old Ralph’s Restaurant, asking for a commitment of time and finances. A little over a year later after numerous meetings, much prayer, many phone calls, and a lot of paperwork, WTGN signed on the air September 27th, 1966.
On that historic day, Art Arthur made the opening remarks, reading from Psalm 36:9. Stanley Tam prayed and Pastor Courlas read scripture. On an interesting side note, there was a very unique challenge in that most people did not have FM radios in their homes or in their vehicles. AM was king! For a donation to WTGN, FM radios were often given as thank you gifts so people could listen to the station. That’s hard to believe today!
The original broadcasting day was from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Gradually, more hours were added to the broadcast day and ultimately on August 20th 1968 WTGN began broadcasting 24 hours a day. WTGN, by the way, was the first 24-hour-a-day broadcast station in Lima. Other changes followed, with the addition of stereo in December of 1972 and in August of 1984, WTGN moved to its present location at 1600 Elida Road. On December 2, 1986, WTGN became a Moody Broadcasting affiliate. We continue to be blessed to be an affiliate with such a fine radio network.
The 1990’s expanded the reach of the radio ministry. The Findlay translator went on the air July 21, 1990. Some of you may remember that the first translator frequency was 89.3 FM. We now broadcast on the Findlay translator at 98.7 FM. The second translator for WTGN signed on in Kenton, Ohio, December 6, 1995 and we continue to broadcast at 105.1 FM.
Since 2004, WTGN is also available online with streaming at WTGN.org. It’s amazing to think that streaming makes it possible for WTGN to be heard around the world. For example, through the years we have heard from people who were listening in Germany, China, Japan, the Dominican Republic, Canada and most of the 50 United States.
WTGN has been blessed to have some wonderful and committed staff members through the years. Their passion for this ministry and their love for Jesus has been demonstrated on and off the air and many have had the privilege of praying with and leading people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as well as encouraging fellow believers in their walk with the Lord. To God be the glory!
For all intents and purposes, WTGN has had just 4 station managers in leadership of the station in it’s 50 years of ministry. Ron Mighell came to the station in 1967 and served as manager until 1980, when he left to start WTLW TV 44. Ron was replaced by Warren Wilson who served until 1985, when he left to start a radio station in Topeka, Kansas. Larry Correll came to serve as manager in 1985 from WEEC in Springfield, Ohio and returned to WEEC in 1988, where he took a similar position as their station manager. Current station manager Scott Young came to WTGN in October, 1978 as the evening announcer and later became Program Director and morning man in 1980 (“Good morning, good morning , good morning; it’s time to rise & and shine!”) Scott was promoted to station manager in November of 1988.
Since day one, WTGN has been committed to having a great lineup of Bible teaching programs. From the early years of Theodore Epp of Back to the Bible and J. Vernon McGee of Thru The Bible to today’s Bible teachers, WTGN has had a schedule which has included some of the best Bible teachers and expositors available to Christian radio, such as Dr. Charles Stanley, Dr. David Jeremiah, and Dr. John MacArthur.
The music has changed through the years, no doubt. But from it’s very beginnings featuring such Christian artists as The Sixteen Singing Men, Steve Green, and the Bill Gaither Trio to today’s music with artists like Chris Tomlin, Mercy Me, and Casting Crowns, we have endeavored to share music which has been Biblically based and points to our Savior Jesus Christ. Some of those artists have appeared on stage here in the Lima area and WTGN has been excited to sponsor and to partner with others in promoting these concerts. From Memorial Hall to The Civic Center, to a church, to the county fair, to Converge it has been our privilege to help bring quality concerts and events to the area.
WTGN provides news, weather, school delays, and interviews with community leaders. We are involved in the community not only to promote but also to initiate outreach and blessing. We have been delighted to do some unique things like traveling to Chicago to see a recording of Unshackled at the Pacific Garden Mission taking with us two busloads of socks, underwear, and t shirts that were donated by our loving and generous listeners in order to bless the men at the mission. Here locally, some of our most exciting outreach has been in collecting diapers to be a blessing to a wonderful ministry - Heartbeat of Lima. This has been made possible, again, through the donations of our caring listeners.
The original Board of Directors consisted of Art Arthur, Stanley Tam and Peter Courlas. Pastor Courlas left the board in 1968 and was replaced by Virgil Mousa who served on the board for 20 years. We are thankful for those who currently serve on the board, several having done so for many years.
As we look to the future, the promise of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 6 verse 33 seems so appropriate: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”