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WORD FM Radio Relocates to Newer Facility
Written by Russell Hessler, Correspondent

            Those who listen to religious broadcasting in the region may be familiar with 88.9—also known as the WORD FM. Just recently, the radio station celebrated a milestone by relocating to a larger facility at 1186 Sumneytown Pike in Upper Salford Township.

            The parent company for 88.9 is Four Rivers Community Broadcasting Corporation, which is a 501C3 non-profit organization.

            The board of Four Rivers consists of Charles Loughery, President; David Baker, Vice-President and General Manager; Ed Spencer of Ed's TV; and Dennis Grafton of Grafton Piano and Organ.

            According to Loughery, Four Rivers was created in 1994 and is named for the rivers in the regions of the station's coverage area: Delaware, Lehigh, Schuylkill, and Susquehanna.

            It is an FCC requirement for a parent company to operate a non-profit radio station. 88.9 was originally assigned to the Centennial School District in Warminster Township as an expansion into Upper Bucks County. The calls letters and dial location in Warminster were WRDV 89.3.

            When Centennial ceased operations, Loughery purchased the 88.9 license for $1.

            The original WORD FM location was in the rear of Ed's TV, located in Souderton area, and was housed in  a room the size of a large closet.

            In 1996, the former property, located at 746 Route 113, became available.

            The Cape Cod House measured 1,200 square feet (not including the basement) and was located next to the Route 309 Bypass.

            Although it was a major improvement from the original location, it was still cramped.       

            The next step was to purchase the property of a former doctor located at the Sumneytown Pike location, which has the dubious distinction of having the Cloud 9 Show Bar, a self-described "Gentlemen's Club", as a next door neighbor, separated by a parking lot.

            This makes for some interesting conversation in the region. 

            The property was purchased in October of 2016. A zoning hearing was held since the land was zoned residential.

            In June of 2017, a joint meeting between the township planning commission and supervisors was conducted concerning the issue of land development waivers.

            At that time, the planning commission recommended that the board of supervisors grant the waivers at a board meeting, and they did.

            From that time forward, relocating and remodeling has been ongoing. WORD FM, officially WBYO, started broadcasting from 1186 Sumneytown Pike on May 17 this year.

            This location is much more spacious, with 3,200 square feet and includes first and second floors and a basement.

            Only the studios and offices have moved; the tower remains in West Rockhill Township.

            The signal from the studio is transmitted to the tower via a microwave link.

            With the wonders of modern technology, the station broadcasts 24 hours a day/7 days a week, and is fully computerized, including a back-up power supply in case of power failure.

            The only time people are in the studio is to record commercials or to host a live event.

            Four Rivers operates numerous other stations throughout PA, 15 in all, that broadcast the 88.9 format. These include locations in Chambersburg, Harrisburg, Stroudsburg, and the former Lehigh-Carbon Community College radio station.

            In 2014, Four Rivers launched Great Songs of the Faith, a sacred music format on WPAZ 1370 AM, the former Pottstown community radio station.

            Four Rivers acquired that station from the Scott family, the former owners, after it was off the air for some time.





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