And the call letters themselves are a reminder that faith built KHOF-FM…the HOF stands for Herald of Faith.”
While the church members were praying, two visitors in the congregation sent a note to the pastor, saying they would pay half the cost of transmitter. One member rushed home and loaded his TV set into his car and brought it to church. He dragged it onto the rostrum and said to the startled audience, “I’m going to sell my set and give the money for the station. I’ll sell sets for anyone who wants to do the same thing.”
In a few days he disposed of 10 television sets. Other projects carried out by the members brought in additional funds. Enough money was raised to hire a firm to make the engineering survey required by the Federal Communications Commission, and work
was begun on the mountain of paper forms required.
In their excitement, however, the church members failed to check the availability of space on the AM radio band. When, the discovery was made that AM radio was sewed up tight, the first verbal brickbats began to fly. The pastor was accused of rushing into the project too fast. It was all a mistake and a waste at money better used for something else, he was told.
Just when talk of dropping the whole idea came out in the open, an engineer suggested that FM radio was what they
One day in 1953, a young plumber-turned-preacher stood before the 200 members of his congregation in Glendale, California, and announced that he wanted to buy a radio station.
”God wants me to have a station that can be devoted entirely to the Gospel. We don’t have the money. I want all of you to pray now that God will provide the funds”, the minister told his small flock.
For ten years Pastor Raymond Schoch had dreamed of having his own radio station. That was his goal when he laid down his plumber’s tools back in 1945 and took up the Bible to preach the Gospel. Now he felt the time had come to stop dreaming and go to work.
When Pastor Schoch called on his members to pray for a station back in 1953, his church was already in debt. It was struggling to keep a day school going for its children and a mountain camp in operation for older members. But when the congregation began to pray, things began to happen.
Today, Pastor Schoch and his members of Maple Chapel, a non-denominational evangelical organization, are operating the most powerful FM radio station in Southern California, beaming Christian programs 18 hours a day to a potential audience of 7,000,000.
How are so few people able to do much?
“The station has been a project of faith from the start,” the pastor says.
wanted. But radio experts and other ministers shook their heads.
“FM radio is on its way out. Only a handful of sophisticated Hi-Fi fans listen to FM. They are not interested in religious programs. Don’t pour money down the drain,” they advised.
But the radio engineer insisted that FM broadcasting would soon take hold because increasing numbers of people were looking for better programming than was being offered by AM stations. The pastor and his small group of supporters continued to dodge brickbats and to work.
They located a transmitter for sale in Texas and bought this with the funds given by the two visitors. Used coaxial cable was found at a reasonable price in Alabama. The application for a permit was filed with the FCC and a search for a transmitter site was begun.
The FCC permit arrived on Pastor Schoch’s thirty-sixth birthday. An ideal transmitter site which could be rented was found on the on the crest of a 1,100 foot hill in southeast Glendale.
The jubilant church members now felt actual broadcasting was about to start. With jaunty step several of them accompanied their pastor to sign the rental agreement for the transmitter site.
“I’ve changed my mind. I’m not interested in renting,” the real estate man who owned the land informed the pastor. “I want to sell the land. You can have five acres if you can meet my terms.”
The minister shook his head in dismay when he heard the terms. The price was too high to consider.
After a fruitless search for another suitable site, Pastor Schoch asked his congregation to pray again, and then he went back to the real estate man. This time he wanted to sell 50 acres.
“You can have 50 acres for $50,000, Pay me $5,000 down and interest for two years on the balance. Then we’ll arrange reasonable terms for the rest,” he said.
Fifty acres was more land than a transmitter site required, but the price an acre was nothing short of a miracle. The minister signed the contract and returned to his little flock to ask them to pray for $5,000.
was raised on its hill overlooking thousands of homes in every direction.
At 1:01 AM on November 13, 1956, KHOF-FM went on the air. The preacher’s dream had come true.
The format of the 100,000 Watt station consists primarily of sacred music, with inspirational talks interspersed occasionally. Pastor Schoch has two 15-minute programs each day called “Across the Pastor’s Desk,” and ministers of other faiths present brief sermonettes. The news is given three times a day.
To help meet expenses, KHOF-FM sells time to a limited number of carefully screened advertisers, with the emphasis on honesty and integrity. No beer or cigarette advertising is accepted.
KHOF-FM’s powerful signal reaches hundreds of thousands of homes from Santa Barbara on the north to San Diego and the Mexican border. Surveys show that at any hour between 6:00 AM when the station goes on the air, and midnight, when the station signs off, nearly half a million people are listening to KHOF-FM.
Typical of the letters received is this one from a woman in Upland: “I don’t have time to go into detail just how much KHOF-FM means to me. It has been such a help in times when things get rather depressing. I turn to the beautiful music and can feel God’s presence near. I have been listening for four years.”
The former plumber is now making plans for a network of seven stations similar to KHOF-FM. One is already on the air in Las Vegas. In Lancaster, California, a minister is following Pastor Schoch’s example almost to the letter in working to start another station.
“This minister just called me,” he said. “He hasn’t got a penny, but he’s ready to go for God.”
In addition to Christian radio stations, Pastor Schoch is also planning to establish Christian television stations. He has already applied for UHF Channel 34 in Los Angeles.
What are his prospects for success in these plans? He is still using a formula which has worked every time thus far: “Let God do it.” ***
The church members gave what they could and then told others about the need. On the day before the down payment was due, $4,000 had been raised. Pastor Schoch and a small group prayed all night. The next morning more money began to come in. One man received an income tax refund of $150 which he contributed. Another collected a bad debt. Three hours before the deadline, the pastor had his $5,000.
But the problems were only beginning. The transmitter site straddled the boundary between Glendale and Los Angeles, and the 50 acres were classified as residential property. The city of Glendale said no tower could be built.
Once more Pastor Schoch and his congregation got on their knees. The next day the hard—bitten real estate man who sold the property called on the Glendale zoning commission. He raised such a fuss that the zoning objection was withdrawn.
When the hearing was held in Los Angeles, a Glendale resident was on hand to protest. But when he saw the
tough old real estate agent, he sat quietly while the Los Angeles commission cleared the way for the transmitter tower.
A secondhand 280-foot tower was hauled from Fresno to the Glendale hilltop, and the church members donned overalls and went to work. For six months men of the congregation hammered away at a solid granite dome under the thin topsoil. After returning from regular jobs, they worked three-hour shifts four nights a week with jack hammers and picks. They gouged out a foundation and chiseled a cesspool, drilled anchor holes for the cables, laid brick, installed a mile of pipe and strung wire down the hill to a remodeled store which housed the studio. Finally, the big steel transmitter tower
This article appeared in These Times, June 1963, Volume 72, No. 6, pg. 10-11
Website owner’s comment: It was mentioned near the end of this story that Pastor Schoch had applied for UHF channel 34. The website owner wishes to remove any confusion for those familiar with KHOF-TV, channel 30, and clarify that this is indeed true. An application to construct channel 34 was submitted to the FCC by Faith Center, however, the FCC granted the construction permit to a Hispanic format applicant. Later Faith Center applied to construct its Christian television station on UHF channel 30 allotted to the city of San Bernardino. That application was ultimately granted by the FCC to Faith Center.