Fishers to get Christian station as radio format grows in Indy

Fishers is getting a new radio station, but its programming will originate from a studio 119 miles away.

Elkhart-based Friends of Christian Radio Inc. won approval from the Federal Communications Commission to put up an antenna that will serve the Fishers area at 101.3 FM.

That tower will air a localized version of programming from WFRN-FM 104.7, a 50,000-watt commercial station in Elkhart that plays contemporary Christian music and educational programming. When possible during broadcasts, content on 101.3 FM will be branded specifically to Fishers.

WFRN currently is heard on 15 different frequencies in northern Indiana and southern Michigan. However, it’s heard as far south as the Kokomo area, where the broadcaster inserts customized versions of local news and weather.

The construction permit the FCC issued Jan. 10 gives Friends of Christian Radio up to three years to go on air with the local translator, said Edwin Moore, president of WFRN owner Progressive Broadcasting System.

Moore, as spokesman for the not-for-profit FCR, said he didn’t know exactly when the group’s board planned to have the translator up and running.

The construction permit calls for placing the antenna atop an existing tower complex at 4455 E. Conner St. in nearby Noblesville.

The metro area has seen a number of changes involving Christian-format stations over the last decade or so. In 2003, the owners of WXIR-FM 98.3, which had been the area's principal Christian-music station, sold the station to Radio Disney.

In 2004, Catholic Radio Indy began broadcasting at WSPM-FM 89.1, and then in 2011 added WSQM-FM 90.9.

In 2009, Brownsburg’s WKLU-FM 101.9 was bought by Sacramento-based Education Media Foundation, which operates more than 500 stations playing contemporary Christian music and is known on the airwaves as K-Love.

The longest-lasting of the local Christian-format stations has been WBRI-FM AM 1500, owned by Spartansburg, S.C.-based Wilkins Radio Network.

Anderson has two Christian-format stations, including WQME-FM 98.7, owned by Anderson University, and WGNR-FM 97.9, owned by Moody Bible Institute.

Listener-supported WGNR is a high-powered, 50,000-watt station but has been extending its reach to repeater stations in Kokomo, Lafayette, Covington and Mitchell.

Last month, WGNR’s sister station at 1470 AM began carrying a Spanish-language broadcast originating from Moody’s Chicago studios. The offering is important, given the growing Spanish-speaking population in the metro area, said WGNR manager Ray Hashley.

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