Posted by: calloftheandes | April 3, 2017

Radio Station HCJB, Wayne Pederson Honored at NRB

 

Wayne and Willi Pederson

by Harold Goerzen

 National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) honored Radio Station HCJB in Quito, Ecuador, and former Reach Beyond President Wayne Pederson during Proclaim 17, the organization’s recent convention in Orlando, Fla.

HCJB Ecuador, an Ecuadorian foundation now operating the station that began in 1931, garnered the International Media Award while Pederson received the Milestone Award for at least 50 years of “exemplary service in Christian broadcasting.”

85 Years of Broadcasting

HCJB, the world’s first missionary radio station, was honored for its still-pioneering work in using new media to spread the good news of Jesus Christ.

Geoff Kooistra, director of services for the foundation, received the media award during the final day of the four-day event. The honor goes to an organization based outside the U.S. that “excels in media ministry—exercising integrity and faithfulness to the cause of Christ while demonstrating unusual effectiveness—and excels in innovative uses of electronic media in the proclamation of the gospel of Christ in impacting the target culture.”

Founded in Quito, Ecuador, in 1931, the station has in recent years expanded its broadcasts to include livestreaming, exclusive online print and video content, and social media interaction with listeners. The new initiatives have broadened the impact of the station, known as the Voice of the Andes, which ranks eleventh in popularity among Quito’s 45 FM stations, according to the ratings firm Mercados y Proyectos.

Today the FM station’s livestream draws about 17,000 visitors monthly while a youth-focused livestream featuring music has listeners in almost 40 countries. The station’s website, www.radiohcjb.org, attracts 360,000 visitors annually. In the first six months of 2016 more than 600 decisions for Christ were made by visitors directed to the website, www.godlife.com.

Geoff and Tammy Kooistra

While traditional broadcasting remains central to HCJB Ecuador’s mission, “we realized that we needed to be less radio-centric and integrate other platforms and opportunities more,” said Kooistra. “Everything works together: When we make a radio program, we need to think about the content being multiplatform. We are not just speaking on the air, but how will this work on the web and how might it be used in an article or on social media.”

Radio Station HCJB had simple beginnings—a 200-watt transmitter in a sheepshed—leading to the station’s growth in geographic reach accompanied by broadcast technology innovations still talked of in engineering circles.

A gala event to honor the station took place in Quito in December. It included videos featuring historic photos, speeches that extolled achievements, and narratives about the focused vision decades ago of the founders’ intent on Christian broadcasting. A new commemorative book called HCJB 85 Años Pasión por el Servicio (HCJB 85 Years of Passion for Service) was distributed at the celebration.

Beginning Media Career

Pederson, who served as the mission’s president from 2008 to 2016, says radio has been his passion nearly as long as he can remember, growing up on a farm in Minnesota.

“I’d been interested in radio since I was a little kid,” he said. “I set up a little pretend radio station in my room. We listened to a radio all the time—in the house, in the barn, on the tractor. When I discovered that God could use my interest in radio it was a natural fit.”

Pederson has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Minnesota and a master of theology from Free Lutheran Theological Seminary in Fergus Falls, Minn. However, his media career began at age 20 when he joined the media staff of Northwestern College (now called University of Northwestern-St. Paul), working there for 34 years (1967 to 2001).

“During that time I was on the air a lot—six hours a day,” related Pederson, who eventually became vice president of media at Northwestern. “I always wanted to be a deejay. Those were the days where you picked your own music, read the newscasts, did the weather, took transmitter readings and even took out the trash!”

He said the highlight was seeing the school’s radio station, KTIS, “grow from a low-power FM station to a major powerhouse in the Twin Cities and see the audience size double.”

4 Jobs in 7 Years

Pederson, who had served on NRB’s executive committee, including chairman for 2½ years, became NRB’s president in late 2001. But this position was short-lived, and four months later he moved to the Mission America Coalition, serving as president for two years. Simultaneously, he also worked part-time at Christian Music Broadcasters.

His next full-time position was at Moody Broadcasting in Chicago, starting in 2004. During his five years there he moved from manager of WMBI to vice president of broadcasting.

“I was happily serving at Moody, thinking this would be the culmination of my broadcasting career,” Pederson said. “But I was also serving on the board of Reach Beyond (then known as HCJB Global). We had done several projects with HCJB, and after then-president David Johnson stepped aside, the board advised me that I was one of the finalists for president.”

He related that he “prayed fervently for God’s will,” and one day while reading the Bible he was impressed by the verse, “It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation” (Romans 15:20, NIV).

“That’s what HCJB does—taking the gospel to places were Christ is not known,” Pederson said. “I decided that if I were offered the position as president, I couldn’t say no. Well, when they offered it to me, I called my late wife, Norma, in Chicago and told her, ‘It looks like we might be moving,’ and she responded, ‘I’ll follow you wherever you go.’”

Moving to Reach Beyond

Pederson officially began his eight-year tenure with Reach Beyond in 2008. “I jokingly say that I’m the president who shut things down,” he recounted. “I feel God called me here to prepare the organization for the next generation of ministry in terms of our focus, in terms of being nimble, in terms of raising the medical outreach to equal status with media, in terms of making partnership a priority and in terms of focusing on the unreached. At times that meant downsizing and not owning large facilities. Being nimble has allowed us to do more.”

He also navigated the mission through the rebranding process, changing its name to Reach Beyond in 2014. “It was more than just a name change;” Pederson said. “It was a change of perspective with forward, outward thinking.”

“By combining ‘voice’ (media) with ‘hands’ (healthcare), we can demonstrate the love of Christ in very practical ways,” Pederson said. “That kind of caring opens the door for us to share the great spiritual truth that God cares not only for people’s eternal salvation, but for their welfare in this life.”

Toward the end of his time with the ministry, Norma succumbed to cancer, and Pederson later married Willi. Together they are serving as Reach Beyond ambassadors, continuing to represent the mission around the world.

“Starting out at age 20, I never could have imagined how God would lead, using my passion for radio to reach millions with the gospel,” Pederson added. “I’m humbled and honored to have been used of God in ways I never could have imagined. It’s been a great privilege.”

“Engaging in one career for 50 years is unheard of these days,” concluded Jon Fugler, Reach Beyond’s vice president of advancement. “Wayne has stuck with it, from small communities in the U.S. to major markets and then around the world.”

Note: Ralph Kurtenbach and Darin Campbell contributed to this story.

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