I don’t think that I will ever understand God’s reason for doing great things with less than perfect or extraordinary people and resources. The King’s Herald of Faith television station, KHOF-TV Channel 30, Glendale, California is a good example.
To the best of my recollection, I began working at KHOF FM in September 1969. I had been applying for a position with this ministry since 1967. I showed up on the doorstep of Faith Center church, owners of KHOF, the same day that I enrolled at the Don Martin School of Radio and Television Arts and Sciences in beautiful downtown Hollywood. Over the next two years, I would come back to Faith Center a few more times and meet with Dr. Willard Peirce, the person in charge of the television project. Each time, I would express my desire to be a part of the crew that would eventually program and run the television station. Each time I asked what they planned to air on the new station, Dr. Peirce would quickly respond that they had more than 3,000 hours of FREE programs available to them plus other programs that would be produced in their studio. With each visit, I grew more and more excited about what could be done with an all-Christian television station.
My media “education” at Don Martin’s ended in a flurry of final tests and the passing of three exams for my third class, second class, and finally first class FCC licenses. In a matter of months, I went from knowing nothing about radio and television to knowing something about them. I had papers to prove it. As you might expect, I marched over to Faith Center with all attendant documentation, certification, and licenses to announce that I was ready to go to work. Kindly Dr. Peirce let me know that they were not quite ready for me.
It was years later that I found out the full story of what was transpiring at KHOF during the time I was becoming an educated media professional. Little things were holding up the launch of the TV station such as getting cameras, video recorders, transmitters, switchers, lights, etc. An interesting news item came to my attention around that time. A helicopter carrying a television antenna – a large, heavy pole-like assembly as opposed to the flimsy tubular things that graced the roofs of homes – experienced a malfunction and dropped the antenna in the middle of the mountains just below Sunset Ridge in the Angeles National Forest. The article went on to identify the television station as KHOF-TV. Its chief engineer, Bernie Marston was optimistic that it could be repaired and successfully installed at some future date once they pulled the remains from the mountainside. Was this an omen I overlooked?
As I waited for a call to duty from KHOF, the school found a job for me at a small (very small) radio station and fledgling UHF TV station in Modesto, California. It was the perfect training ground for what would come during those early KHOF-TV days. KLOC AM and KLOC TV UHF channel 19, were owned by Chester Smith. Chester was the 1955 Cowboy of the Year singer with a tune called “Wait A Little Longer Please Jesus”. He was a Modesto native and a favorite son. Everyone knew him and his family. The stations were located on the family farm land. The radio station consisted of a small concrete block building that housed the 500 watt radio transmitter, two turn tables, an audio board, and some reel-to-reel tape recorders and an outdated audio cassette machine that was used to play back commercials. The television station was a sheet metal building that easily could have housed a small herd of cows or other livestock. It sat on a concrete slab floor and provided all the acoustic and sound deadening qualities of a good number of highway underpasses that dotted the way along Highway 101 which ran close by. I was hired as the weekend relief announcer for the Saturday and Sunday morning radio shifts. Tuesday through Sunday evenings, I was the studio technician/camera operator/technical director/audio man for the television station. Mercifully, the TV station only broadcast from 5:00 P.M. until 9:30 or 10:00 P.M. depending on the length of the evening movie or the condition of the equipment on any given night. All my “book larn’in” (and then some) was put to good use as I helped Chester run the station that covered the Greater Modesto dominant market area. “Local” TV took on a whole deeper meaning to me during my stint there. The fact that the owner was United Pentecostal and his chief engineer was Assembly of God, plus the fact that we got to play a Gospel song every hour on the radio and on Sundays we hosted local church groups that came in and sang live on TV, gave me a small sense of satisfaction that I was doing some Gospel broadcasting. One glorious day, a scant three months after debuting in Modesto, I got a call from Faith Center that I was needed in Glendale.
Faith Center church was housed in a handsome three-story building directly across from the main gate of Forest Lawn, Glendale, a world famous memorial park. In fact, the church building was once the offices of Forest Lawn’s insurance operations. Now, it housed a day school, the church’s sanctuary, various administrative offices, and the FM radio station. The first day that I reported for work, it seemed like a dream as I climbed the steps up to the third floor where the radio/TV offices were. I was assigned the early morning shift on the FM station. This was such a big deal for me. It meant that I had finally fulfilled my goal of becoming a Gospel radio and TV producer and was about to be heard all over the Greater Los Angeles area by an audience that had more people in it than cows as was not the case at KLOC, Modesto. My afternoons were dedicated to getting the programming and all attendant systems in place for launching the TV station. That was set to happen a little less than two months away.
My opening comment about using meager resources and less than extraordinary people to accomplish his purposes was never truer than as it applied to me. Here I was barely months out of a trade school and now I am charged with programming an entire television station. Thank God for Linda Schoch, she was my associate as we hustled to find programs to fill the entire broadcast day’s schedule. Okay, so our day only consisted of two hours, it was still a challenge to find programs. The 3,000 hours of free programming that Dr. Peirce kept telling me about turned out to be public service programs produced by various trade associations (American Dental Association, Life Insurance Institute, the Red Cross, etc.,) and companies who deftly wove their products into the half-hour shows. Linda’s and my job was to select – blindly because we did not have equipment to see the programs – what we felt was the most interesting and best suited for family viewing programs. This, of course, came back to bite us because many of the most interesting titles were from breweries that showed folks in travelogues from various places around the globe. They also managed to have many scantily clad women drinking beer as they toured and cavorted around the globe. We were made aware of the problem when one of our transmitter operators refused to air such sinful and salacious programming. Now, it seemed like we could only air the Social Security Administration films that talked about the glories and merits of their projects. Thank God that we were able to acquire the Lutheran produced programs “Davey and Goliath” and “This Is The Life”. Little by little, we began to find more suitable and truly Christian programming.
Glendale, though a next door neighbor to Hollywood, was not a hub of television production. It was clear that producing our own programming was absolutely necessary; after all, we had two hours of precious television time to fill every night. The studio for the television station also served as the sanctuary for Faith Center church – or vice versa. This meant that every time we wanted to produce a program of more than one person, we would have to go into the sanctuary, push rows and rows of folding chairs to one side, clearing enough floor space to set up lights, sets, and cameras. It also meant that after every production we had to put the chairs back in their place and stow the TV gear. With no fixed grid from which we could hang lights, we used improvised light trees which a church member fabricated for us at his ironworks shop. A Hollywood technician happened to see our snowy picture one night and come to see if he could help. He led us to a friend who gave us some old studio lights which were barely brighter than the fluorescents in the sanctuary/studio. It was truly a day of small beginnings.
Zechariah records the Lord’s word, “Who despises the day of small things?” (Zechariah 4:10 NIV) Israel has been restored to its homeland. They were in the process of rebuilding the Temple, but they grew weary and discouraged because of naysayers and their own doubts about the success of their efforts. How could they ever build a temple as beautiful as the original? God had to pump up Zechariah so he could pump up the people. They had laid the foundation for the new temple but it was not enough for them. I could identify with them as we worked day after day to keep the hungry transmitter supplied with programs. We were short on money, short on people, short on programs, and short on equipment. Pastor Ray Schoch, founder of the ministry, was not short on one thing – his faith in God and the assurance that he was doing the right thing. He instilled a two-word motto on every person involved in the project, “BUT, GOD!” When things got tough, that motto would ring in our ears, “BUT, GOD!” As I drove home one evening mulling over ways to improve our programming and extend our broadcast hours, I realized that we could simply repeat the first two hours immediately after the last hour played thereby giving us a FOUR-hour day. I felt that I had just discovered the secret of the ages – RERUNS.
Even as Zechariah encouraged Israel not to despise the day of small beginnings, I had to stop and thank God for what was beginning to happen at KHOF. All too often we think of miracles in terms of grand and glorious events, but as we labored day after day and watched the little television station grow and begin to spin off into other stations, and watch it grow people into competent, eager, dedicated Christian communicators I came to realize that miracles can happen right under our noses as small beginnings.
During my forty years in television and radio, I have watched the Lord do amazing things. What began in a makeshift studio with less than perfect equipment, many temporary and volunteer staff members, a hodge podge of acquired programming, and a television signal which often looked like it had been strained through the kidneys of a rhinoceros was actually the birthing place of many broadcasting careers for Christians who wanted to use their art and talent for communicating the Greatest Story ever told. We will only know the full extent of KHOF FM and KHOF TV’s impact on the lives of its viewers and listeners when we get to heaven and hear the first hand results of these ministries. All who were involved will then be able to say wholeheartedly and loudly, “BUT GOD!”
Do Not Despise The Day Of Small Beginnings
By Rick Quintana, 2011