From its start undertaken by students in the early 1970s to the present, WCSG, a radio ministry of Cornerstone University, has built a longstanding reputation in the West Michigan community for inspiring listeners in their faith. Today’s groundbreaking for an expanded broadcast studio signals a new vote of confidence in the Christian music radio station’s ministry which reaches almost 200,000 listeners each week through 91.3 WCSG.
A trusted veteran in Christian music radio and recipient of Christian Music Broadcasting’s industry achievement award, Chris Lemke remembers the excitement of moving into the existing 7,100-square-foot radio facility built more than five decades ago. The addition of new staff over the years has led to an overcrowded office complex that includes three double-wide trailers adjacent to a brick office visible from the East Beltline.
Funded by listeners, the $5.7 million remodel of a former church building on the CU campus will provide radio employees—more than 66% who are Cornerstone graduates—with over 12,000 square feet of usable space and promote a refreshed vision for ways to encourage the station’s listener community on-air and in person. Staff is expected to relocate into the renovated building as early as May 2020.
“This new facility is a longtime dream come true,” Lemke, executive director of radio, said. “To me, it’s a promise fulfilled to not only the staff of WCSG but to the staff of Cornerstone. It’s not just about bricks and mortar; it’s a huge morale booster. It shows that we care enough about our people that we want to make sure that growth continues to happen, and we’re going to do what we need to do to ensure that growth is going to take place.”
Among media outlets, Christian music radio continues to rise as one of the fastest-growing formats in all of radio. Specifically, Lemke noted that there are in excess of more than 37 million listeners to Christian radio each week.
A top-ranked leader in its market, WCSG was reported to be the #1 radio station in Grand Rapids by Nielsen Audio in July 2019.
“Our staff is more committed than ever before,” Lemke said. “Ratings aside, we’ve always looked at it as what can we do to better serve you and help inspire you to live more like Jesus. This building will help us continue to provide the service that people have come to know and expect. It raises the bar for us to take on new projects and challenges. We can’t do that in the existing facility that we have.
“With a new building comes a new cultural mindset. WCSG will go deeper and wider. By deeper, we’ll go deeper into our existing footprint, deeper into Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Battle Creek through partnerships with church and parachurch ministries. We’ll also go outside of where we already exist to look at other market opportunities in Michigan and develop content for new platforms such as video.”
The groundbreaking service for the new building—the centerpiece of the radio station’s first capital campaign called Project 2020—invited donor representatives, students and guests of the university to give gratitude through a time of corporate worship and brief statements from university leaders. Participants also wrote stories of transformation on flags which will be tied onto the construction fence as a symbolic act of partnership in the radio ministry’s future.
“All of the station’s accolades do not mean anything if we’re not following Jesus,” Lemke summarized. “So regardless of whether they are there or not, we will continue to love people as Jesus loved them. We will continue to be faithful to Christ as God has instructed us. And whether or not we are popular or get acknowledged for it, that doesn’t matter. What matters to us is that we stay hungry for Jesus and keep following what He wants us to do.”