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WBNH Celebrates 35 Years with Laura Story

WBNH in Pekin/Peoria, IL is celebrating 35 years of ministry in 2023! They held a celebration on Friday, October 13, 2023, featuring Laura Story at Northfield Christian Fellowship in Tremont, IL. The evening started off with a coffee bar and dessert reception, and Laura provided a wonderful evening of music as a part of WBNH’s 35th anniversary event. The entire evening was made free for all 450 in attendance thanks to a number of generous sponsors.

Founder Mr. Bubie Goodman had the vision for Christian radio in Central IL starting in the late 1970s, which culminated in WBNH starting off from humble beginnings in the basement of First Baptist Church of Pekin. They first signed on at 88.5FM on December 15, 1988, sharing the frequency with another group from 6pm till 8am. After a number of months, the other group folded and on July 1, 1989, WBNH went on the air 24 hours a day airing programming from the Moody Broadcasting Network.

Equipment used at the time included reel-to-reel tape machines, cartridge machines similar to an 8-track player, turntables and microphones on table-top stands. Back in 1988, as it does now, the FCC required that a station identification be made at the top of every hour. Because the station operated with equipment that was manually operated, someone had to be there overnight to make the station breaks!

The station was originally operated by volunteers who brought along their sleeping bags, manning the station through the night. As the months went on, needed funds were raised, and automation equipment was bought to run the station through the overnights.

As the years moved on and the station grew, staff members were hired, and the station moved to an office suite in downtown Pekin in 1994. In that same year, WBNH began broadcasting in Bloomington/Normal, IL via a translator signal. In 2006, WBNH constructed a main radio tower 500 feet tall that operates at 48,000 watts of directional power and is located in East Peoria, IL. And after years of renting office space, they bought and renovated their own studio building at 1919 Mayflower Dr in Pekin and moved in December 2010.

At the new studio location, they host a number of annual events, including a Listener Appreciation Cookout, a Classic Car Cruise-In, a Christmas Open House and they serve as a drop off location for Operation Christmas Child. A spring Share fundraiser broadcast and open house helps raise support for the majority of the station’s yearly financial needs.

WBNH is thankful for all that God has done through the radio ministry over the past 35 years and they look forward what the future has in store. Praise Him!

(Pictured in photo is guitarist Colin Stevens, percussionist Ryan Gericke, WBNH staff member Keith Lang, Laura Story and WBNH staff members Carla Heiple, Daniel Cushman and Jim Huber)