Gospel 94.9 FM WHNL, Hinesville’s first 24-hour FM gospel-radio station, is on the air.
It is the city’s newest radio station, providing gospel music throughout the day, and inspiration and Motown grooves on Saturday.
Elected officials and residents gathered Tuesday morning inside Liberty Prayer Chapel, where the radio station is housed, for the ribbon-cutting.
The Rev. Katrina Deason, pastor of Liberty Prayer Chapel, shared how the station started.
“This had been a two-year journey. Jim Lewis owned 106.3, and last year, in November, he passed away. I was his Sunday-morning inspiration for 10 years,” Deason said. “I used to tell Lewis, ‘Let me have your radio station, and let me preach the Gospel with it.’ He said, ‘Well, you can have it on Sunday morning.’”
Other radio-industry professionals told Deason that it has been almost 15 years since the Federal Communications Commission reviewed new applications for radio stations. However, churches, colleges or other nonprofit entities with engineering plans could apply. Lewis found the 94.9 FM signal in Hinesville and held onto it for three years. His plan was to use it as a commercial radio station.
“He said, ‘You know what, Pastor Deason? You and I have been friends for a long time, and you’re always asking me for my radio station. So I’ll give you the engineering plans, and why don’t you apply?’” Deason said.
Lewis did all the work for Deason. He told her that approval could take up to five years. Deason said God gave them a miracle.
Five months after submitting the application, Deason got a phone call from a radio-equipment salesman. She told him that the station was still in the application phase, and he informed her that their radio station was actually approved. She didn’t believe him at first and contacted her attorney, who filed the application, about the approval. A snowstorm had delayed him a few days from reaching his office.
“(The attorney) said, ‘Ma’am, I can’t believe this. After five months your application has been approved. You must know somebody.’ I said, ‘Well, I do know somebody, our Daddy upstairs, who did this for us,’” Deason said.
Walter Carter Jr., the sound engineer for WHNL and one of the station’s disc jockeys, used to work with Lewis at his radio station — WOAH 106.3. There is where he met Deason and eventually became a member of her church. He currently works for Financial Education Services but is lending his more-than 20 years of radio experience to the gospel station.
The station will hold a grand-opening event at 10 a.m. Saturday at Liberty Prayer Chapel. The public is invited.
“You can expect to hear the best of gospel music 24/7, especially on Sunday through Friday,” Carter said. “On Saturday, we do something special. It’s for the older people. That’s our Motown sound, where we play the best of Motown music. It’s a little different than the former stations that have been here in the past. We’re trying to be different, but still have the opportunity to bring people to the Lord.”