Wednesday, July 8, 2015


Today we’ve got a true radio story. If you’ve ever worked in management at a noncom or commercial station you’ve seen people dream big and then fall on their ass.

One of the most frequent radio dreams is to start your own station.  The freedom seems so inviting and the opportunities so great. I lived this dream in 1982 when I signed on KSKY-FM in the Black Hills. So, I can relate to the people in this short story because I've been there.


In mid-June I saw this ad in a newsletter I get from a broker of broadcast stations:

WAJC-FM is a full-power Non-Commercial FM serving Minneapolis-St. Paul, the 16th largest radio market in the nation. The station broadcasts on 88.1MHz, and delivers programming to Dakota, Ramsey, and Washington counties, plus the growing suburbs south of the Twin Cities.

I eat call letters for breakfast but I had never heard of this station. So I investigated.

WAJC FM 88.1 is licensed to Newport, Minnesota – a far-flung southern exurb of St. Paul.  WAJC’s Construction Permit was granted in 2010 and they signed on in 2013.  The owner of WAJC is Religious Information Network, a 501c3 nonprofit organization.

Now WAJC is for sale.  The asking price is $750,000.

Take a look at WAJC’s coverage map:

This is NOT a Minneapolis-St. Paul metro radio station. This is a station that runs on hype and the tank is empty.


Jill Martin Rische is the oldest daughter of Dr. Walter Martin. Dr. Martin is a long-time radio preacher known as The Original Bible Answer Man

Jill married Kevin Rische – they met at church. Dr. Martin brought Kevin Rische into the family business: Preaching For Dollars On the Radio.  Kevin was put in charge of digitizing Dr. Martin’s 40-some years of broadcasting.

Dr. Martin’s program The Original Bible Answer Man and other shows made a lot of money.  They were (and still are) time-brokered broadcasts on commercial religious stations. Dr. Martin gained notoriety with true believers with his late 1960s book The Kingdom of the Cults.

Dr. Martin was getting older and apparently had cash on hand.


Someone convinced someone to apply for a new FM allocation for Newport, Minnesota.  Religious Information Network was one of several applicants.  They won the license in a mutually-exclusive (“MX”) contest at the FCC in 2010.

Kevin and Jill planned the station and started building.  Here is Kevin Rische at the WAJC tower location:

Here is the tower erection:


The Remnant – WAJC’s brand name – signed on in 2013. According to it’s website [link] The Remnant airs Contemporary Christian Music (“CCM”) and all Dr. Walter Martin’s programs.

2013 is when the happy talk ends.  Things got real.


According IRS 990 tax fillings, The Remnant’s revenue has been between $20,000 and $40,000 every year since they signed on.  Expenses exceed revenue every year, sometimes by thousands of dollars.

It seems so clear now what went wrong:

• WAJC doesn’t cover enough of the Twin Cities to be a viable metro station.

• Northwestern College Broadcasting (KTIS) owns the religious noncom market in the Twin Cities.  KTIS draws around 400,000 listeners a week. Salem Broadcasting scoops up the rest.

• Kevin and Jill ran to The Remnant 24/7 and didn’t make much money.  But they did have a free station vehicle.

Dr. Walter Martin – The Original Bible Answer Man didn’t realize the some times God says “NO.”


  1. KVSC in St Cloud is also on 88.1 and it precludes any chance of WAJC being terribly listenable in the actual Twin Cities. Unfortunately, WAJC does a fine job destroying KVSC's fringe coverage of that same area...which wasn't trivial.

  2. I know this is an old post, but things not mentioned here:

    - "The Remnant" is a Northwestern student radio station (same college that runs KTIS). It's technically not run by the Kevin/Jill people. As soon as WAJC signed on they got "Remnant" programming, but even the kids at the school couldn't pick it up. The Martin family had nothing to do with Remnant programming, other than the occasional brokered stuff that aired.

    - It took years for this thing to sign on, and from pre-hype comments it was clear they had no idea what to do with it and no idea how to run a station. In fairness, there are now dozens of defunct LPFMs with the same problem.

    - Every one from KVSC to a college station 15 miles away in Northfield on 88.1 objected, yet this thing was allowed on the air for some reason. It was doomed from the start.

    - A church in Forest Lake bought it, which is another exurban town NORTH of the Cities. They can't even get the station in their own city.

    - Dr. Martin was a strong anti-prosperity gospel person, so he was used to telling people that God often says "NO." His kids on the other hand...

    Every thing about this has "What Where they Thinking?!?" written on it, from the owners, to the FCC, to the college that had a station their own kids couldn't hear, to the new owners.

  3. Also not mentioned...

    Dr. Walter Martin died in 1989. Sadly, since then he has had no ability to prevent or weigh in on the things done in his name.

    Martin did not bring Kevin Rische into the "family business." In fact, there was no family business. The Christian Research Institute, a 501(c)(3) started by Martin in 1960, continues to this day. Since Martin's death, Hank Hanegraaff has been the president of CRI. Kevin Rische was never an employee of CRI.

    The efforts of the Rische's, although carefully packaged in the name of Walter Martin, never existed prior to his death, and are fully the products of their own dreams and aspirations.

  4. So amazing to see people who know nothing about WAJC (or us) commenting as if they know something. In reality, this is a small radio frequency--and we went through the arduous FCC process because we love the idea of community radio and still do. If our agenda was liberal, this column would be a positive review. The real story of WAJC--a radio start-up that began in the black and remained there--will be published soon on the Walter Martin YouTube channel. And one final truth, we walked away from several profitable offers for WAJC and chose, instead, to donate it to our church. Again, this is because they love local radio and are actively involved in community outreach. We look forward to seeing the good that will come from giving people a voice.