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Religious broadcasts 'on upswing'

Station manager in Utah links increase to spiritual hunger

Christian religious broadcasting is on the upswing nationwide with more radio stations than ever — 1,700. There aren't any new radio stations in this area, but Utah station managers say there's more support than ever for religious broadcasting.

Steven Barsuhn, manager of Provo's KEYY (AM-1450), said, based on a growing number of letters and e-mails, "We sense we're on an upswing."

He thinks people are seeking more than just entertainment in their radio listening — "something to feed their souls."

Moody Broadcasting Network runs KEYY and now has 360 affiliate stations, up about 100 stations in the past six years.

Tom Gearhart, station manager for KYFO (FM-99.5/92.7, English versions and AM-1490, Spanish version), Ogden, agrees.

Bible Broadcasting Network, an international organization, operates KYFO. It has increased its total number of U.S. stations by about seven in the past few years and has added almost 60 international stations in that same period.

Gearhart said it's hard to say why religious broadcasting is growing in popularity, but it may have to do with a greater spiritual hunger.

KANN (AM-1120), started in 1975, is Utah's oldest religious format station. Licensed in Ogden, it has a new transmitter and studio located west of Syracuse.

"We're doing OK," KANN station manager Bob Alzugarat said.

He believes KANN doesn't have great ratings — probably only 600 to 700 listeners per hour — but that's not bad considering even commercial stations are being fragmented by the numerous media choices now available.

"A lot of committed Christians will tune in," he said.

KANN also belongs to a network, Sounds of the Spirit Radio Network, with three other religious stations in the West.

Alzugarat is also Utah's longest-running religious radio host, with 21 years on KANN with a 6 to 8 a.m. weekday show. He believes people are tuning in for anchors in their lives. "We try to be positive."

"We're not driven by trends," Barsuhn said. "Our approach is more timeless."

Utah has a large population of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the managers of the three Christian stations say they draw a substantial number of listeners from that church.

Barsuhn said he believes LDS members are attracted by good, solid Bible teaching.

Gearhart believes his station's nondenominational accent, plus its 50-50 mix of music/religious talk, attracts a strong LDS audience.

Alzugarat says many listeners of his evangelical Christian programming are LDS Church members.

"Focus on the Family," a national show hosted by Dr. James Dobson, and "Turning Point," by Dr. David Jeremiah, are probably the two most popular national and local radio programs on KYFO and KEYY. KSL (AM-1160) also airs a special, five-minute version of "Focus on the Family" each weekday.

For KANN, Alzugarat said "The Prayer Chapel," airing weekdays from 11 to 11:30 a.m., is very popular because it features a different evangelical pastor each time.

Besides the popular "Music and the Spoken Word," Sundays from 9:30 to 10 a.m., KSL Radio airs "Religion Today" with Martin Tanner form 7 to 9 p.m.

Several other local religious programs of note on other stations are: "Sounds of the Sabbath" (KOSY, FM-106.9, Sundays from 7 to 11 a.m.) and "Religion on the Line" (with Van Hale, Sundays 5 to 7 p.m. on KTKK AM-630).

For more information on KEYY, call 1-801-374-5210, or on the Web see www.keyy.com. For KYFO, 1-801-394-8833, or bbnradio.org. To access more KANN information, call 1-801-774-0249, or check the Web at www.sosnetworks.org.


E-mail: lynn@desnews.com