Welcome to a series of stories about the pioneers of Contemporary Christian Music Radio. You can read some the previous stories here. Some of these pioneers started radio stations with just a few dollars to their name. Many had very little radio experience. But each had vision, a calling, and a deep passion for using Contemporary Christian Music and radio to impact their community. There was a time they were considered the rebels in the stodgy Christian industry of the time. Today, they are considered the pioneers.
Bob (Anthony) Fogal – Passionate, Creative, Visionary, Excellence, K-LOVE, Air1
“Bob is a moral compass that can be counted on for counsel and honesty in all situations. He is dependable, super creative, fun to be with, challenging at times, makes lifelong friends due to his character, is an A+ announcer (but everyone knows that already), brilliant, and understands the finer points of radio programming thoroughly. Every time I speak with him he inspires me and yet we are so different you would have to position us as yin and yang, opposites. He has been an example to us all of how faith should be walked out in everyday life. He’s a man of prayer and vision. The vision for K-LOVE came straight from Bob’s mind. I just executed his written plan and look what happened!” – Dick Jenkins, EMF President 1986-2008
Bob (Anthony) Fogal was born & raised in Spokane WA and radio was always a huge part of his life. A little kid with a transistor radio that was always on and close by. Sleeping with it under his pillow as many kids did back then. Laughing at the DJs and enjoying all the music they played.
In the summer just before his senior year of high school, Bob went to Los Angeles to visit a friend. While there he listened to a radio station, 93KHJ. At the time in the sixties, it was one of the most popular radio stations in America, calling itself Boss Radio for Boss Angeles, with disc jockeys like the real Don Steele, Robert W Morgan and Charlie Tuna. If you’ve seen the movie “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” you would have heard KHJ used as the soundtrack backdrop. He made the decision then, to get into radio as a career and before working even one day in radio he wrote down his career goal…He wanted one day to be a DJ at 93KHJ.
By 24, he was on the air at 97KREM, a Top-40 station in Spokane that was part of the KING Broadcast Group. While at KREM Bob met the Program Director of KING’s Portland station, Alan Mason. Notes Bob, “It’s still amazing to me now that God was putting people in my life way back then that would have such a profound, positive impact on EMF down the road.” It was during this time that Bob discovered another great station that was winning national awards…610 KFRC in San Francisco. He happened to be traveling late at night between Spokane and Seattle, at a time when you could hear distant AM stations. There it was, coming in loud and clear! And his little cassette machine was recording it all. The DJ came on sounding so very good! When he got back home he listened to that tape over and over and finally worked up the courage to write a letter to that DJ. His name was Mike Novak. Surprisingly, Mike responded with a nice letter and the two started exchanging tapes of their shows and that began a friendship.
By 27 he had achieved his radio goal and was in Hollywood at KHJ working with Charlie Tuna, Dr. John Leader, Machine Gun Kelly and the others.
After that, he moved to that other amazing station, 610KFRC in San Francisco. During that time, 610KFRC won the national radio station of the Year award several times. The DJs were all super professionals at the top of their game. He had the career he had always wanted, along with the house, the pool, and the 911. He was being paid well to do a 3-hour show from 9-Noon following the legendary morning personality Dr. Don Rose.
Life was good. But he knew there was a big piece missing. He was not right with God. He had grown up in church and remembered one verse very clearly…what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and yet lose his soul? The meaning was clear.
So, he began doing the research to determine exactly what he needed to do to get right with God. He began to read and reread the gospel accounts, focusing specifically on the words of Jesus. Fortunately, he discovered there was such a thing as red-letter Bibles with the words of Jesus in red. What a concept! The words of Jesus have many clear commands and directions. Some of Jesus words were easy on the eyes and ears, but some were not. He knew he needed to repent and turn the direction of his life around towards God, and to make a complete and unconditional surrender to Him.
One of the things clear in Jesus teaching was the phrase “count the cost,” and Bob knew there was going to be a cost. He says, “There was a period where for several weeks I was soberly and seriously counting the cost. I was considering all of the stuff, my dream job at KFRC, my friends and family, my house and all the other things that go along with a nice life in Marin County California. Was I truly ready to surrender it all to God? Was I prepared to give it all up if that’s what God asked of me? What if Jesus said to me the same thing that he said to the rich young ruler? Sell everything, give it to the poor and then come follow Jesus? Was I really ready to do that? I knew I had to be 100% ready if that’s what God asked! In the end I determined that, yes, I was indeed ready to surrender everything to the God who created me and committed my life to Him.”
He became a sponge for Christian teaching. He read the Bible cover to cover and over the next several months he was wondering what God wanted him to do with his life. The music that he was playing every day on KFRC was Fleetwood Mac, Billy Joel, the Rolling Stones, etc. He wondered perhaps if there might be any Christian music that sounded as good as this music? The answer of course was that there certainly were other contemporary Christian songs. He soon discovered Keith Green, Phil Keaggy, 2nd chapter of Acts, Chuck Girard, The Imperials and many others. A few months later, the thought came to him… “What would a “Christian KFRC” sound like? Could you have a radio station with the same level of professionalism and excellent sound that KFRC had but was a Christian music station? (With major-market level disc jockeys that talked normal, not “Christian-ese” and didn’t sound holier than thou?”) So, in late 1978, the vision for a particular type of contemporary Christian music radio station was born. Outlined right there on a yellow pad. That vision became the start of the K-LOVE Radio Network.
Right around that time, Bob Dylan released his new album “Slow Train Coming”, along with the song “Gotta Serve Somebody” which BOB played on KFRC! Wow! The seed that was planted began to grow!
Bob tells the story like this…
I began sharing the vision I had for a “Christian KFRC” with others. We set up meetings in San Francisco at a small café called Our Fathers House. Jon Robberson and Joe Micheals were at some of the early meetings. God brought people to me who shared and affirmed the vision. Together, David Gilmour, Dave Laube and I formed a new nonprofit organization called Christian Media Ministries (CMM) in 1979. The purpose of this new ministry was to use contemporary media, specifically radio, to take the gospel and God’s truth out into the mainstream.
We went church to church talking to pastors about this new ministry, but that was a bit discouraging. Many pastors wanted nothing to do with that new so-called contemporary Christian music with the Devils beat! The very idea of a Christian radio station that would mainly play music and not be filled with 30 minute teaching programs sounded like a recipe for disaster to many of them. We were told many times it would never work. No one would ever support it financially.
One of the 1st things we did, perhaps in response to the negativity, was to organize the prayer team…to keep praying that God would move and make it all happen! CMM even brought Chuck Colson to the famous Moscone Center in San Francisco to speak and bring attention to this new Christian music radio project.
In 1981 we heard about a small low power FM educational station that would be sold at a bankruptcy auction in Santa Rosa California. We sent representatives to the auction and put in a successful bid of around $60,000. Many people contributed financially to make that happen mainly with smaller gifts. But ironically the largest gift that allowed us to purchase the station came from a man who was a beer distributor! We hired Ashton Hardy as our FCC attorney and he advised us to form a new nonprofit organization under a different name that better suited what we were trying to do. So, Christian Media Ministries became the Educational Media Foundation and moved the headquarters to Santa Rosa, CA.
At 6AM on October 15, 1982, KCLB-FM signed on in Santa Rosa, CA…and the first song was “Praise The Lord” by The Imperials. And they shared the new station slogan, too: “The Positive Alternative!”
EMF also began putting on Christian concerts as a way to spread the word about the new station project. John Fisher, Pam Mark Hall and Chuck Girard were a few of the artists that were featured in those early days. (Pam and her young daughter Emily even stayed overnight with Bob’s family in Santa Rosa back in those days.) Other concerts included The Archers, The Imperials, Steve Camp, Paul Clark, Brush Arbor, and others. Bob recollects, “The Imperials had just put on a fantastic concert and with the crowd still applauding, the group assembled at the front of the stage and sang, “Not to Us O Lord”. And I thought, “Yes! A great reminder of who is supposed to get the praise for all of this!”
Money was so tight in the beginning, but more people began joining the team. (Most of them were volunteers since there was no money for salaries.) One of EMF’s 1st volunteers was Nyoka Brooks who volunteered to oversee promotions and communications, putting out a monthly newsletter, putting on concerts and events, and an annual auction. She was also a gifted voice talent who was often heard on the air. Also, early on, David Daubenspeck came aboard as the first Director of Ministry and Operations. David managed the Volunteer Team of board operators, office and promotions staff, and the Prayer Team.
At one point the rent payment of $1,000 was due by 5p but they didn’t have it! It was about 4:45 in the afternoon and into the office walks a guy who says something like, “I have no idea what’s going on, but I was driving and I heard God tell me that I needed to come into the station and donate a thousand dollars to you! So, here ya go!” He left the money on the front desk and walked out. No one knew his name! But Bob and the small team were in awe of what had just happened and what God had done for this little blip of a radio station.
Bob also remembers that he attended his first industry gathering in 1980, in Dallas, TX. There weren’t many CCM stations on in 1980 and even fewer that were mostly music. But, he wanted to get a feel for where the industry was, and who else might be there that might be thinking along the same lines. He was pleased to find out there were several, including Jon Rivers, Brad Burkhart, and another guy who would become a good friend over the years, Rick Tarrant. In the coming years, the annual NCRS (National Christian Radio Seminar) was held, and back in those days, KLOVE and Air1 were among the stations that would broadcast “live from Nashville!” Bob still has kept his giant 22-ounce Word Records beer mug from an NCRS event.
Even though KCLB started very small, one of the earliest prayer requests was for signal expansion. They continually petitioned God to enlarge their outreach! And, they worked hard on making sure that the ministry foundation was solid.
KCLB always spotlighted and helped other ministries, too. They teamed up to help the local Santa Rosa Rescue Mission, and they helped many local churches promote their events and outreach. Even the churches that didn’t like what they were doing were promoted. Bob believes that…“Our willingness to use our radio resources to help other ministries played an important part in our early growth!”
In 1986, EMF hired former mainstream DJ, Army vet, and savvy dealmaker Dick Jenkins, to take on station management and the role of President of EMF. Bob and Dick worked side by side for about 6 months, and then Dick completely took the reins. In Bob’s words, “Dick Jenkins came on board at exactly the right time and was exactly what EMF needed in terms of creatively executing the signal expansion plans! Dick’s contributions to EMF cannot be overstated. God used him in a mighty way to accomplish His plans.” Bob moved to Portland and continued to work for EMF as a consultant, while Dick went on to lead the explosive growth of new signals.
In 1988, Bob started a new ORG called “Common Ground Broadcasting” (CGB) and filed an application for 107.5 in Portland. In March of 1991, KDBX-FM signed on the air with the slogan, “Spirit FM.” The on- air team included Joe Michaels, Larry Wayne, Bryan O’Neal, and Bob. And the Management team included Tim Bronleewe, Lee Nielsen, and a non profit ministry called, “Shepherd Northwest.”
In 1994, they learned that another station, KLRD-FM in Southern CA was struggling. About that same time, Salem Communications approached them about buying KDBX. So, after several meetings and a lot of prayer, the decision was made by CGB to sell KDBX and take over operations for KLRD, KXRD, and related translaters. The proceeds from the KDBX sale helped to pay off a number of loans, move the ministry base to Portland, and to maintain the original ministry objectives of Jon and Noonie Fugler…“to reach a younger generation of listeners with a more agressive CHR format along with the admonition to “Be doers of the Word, not just hearers only.” They would opérate under the name Air1.
Even during those Air1 years, Bob continued to work for EMF in various capacities, including as host of the K-LOVE morning show and Network Program Director. He reconnected with his old friend Mike Novak and recruited him to join K-LOVE.
Eventually, Dick Jenkins proposed the idea to merge K-LOVE and Air1 with the benefit to Air1 of quickly expanding into more signals.
After 20+ years with EMF, Bob left in 2002 shortly after receiving a service award for the merger. He devoted his time to his “Gospel Spots” ministry that he had started in 1998. Gospel Spots placed evangelistic TV and radio spots on mainstream secular stations, in movie theaters and newspapers, and also put up evangelistic billboards around the country.
Bob is back now in his home town of Spokane WA. He and his wife own and operate KOOL Oldies 107.1FM. He calls the station a “Museum of Original Rock Music” with over 5,000 songs in the playlist. Lots of Beatles, Beach Boys, Motown, Rolling Stones, etc. KOOL has been on the air for 10 years and Bob is on the air, Monday through Saturday afternoons from 2-6pm. Many of the oldie songs they play are clearly Christian or have a Biblical message. (Here’s a sampling of the Christian message songs: The Impressions have several songs including: “Amen”, “People Get Ready” and others. “Oh Happy Day” was a top 5 hit by the Edwin Hawkins Singers; Laurie London did an old Sunday school song “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands” and it became an international hit, going to #1 on the U.S. mainstream charts in 1958. And other songs on KOOL include “I’ll Take You There” by The Staple Singers; Ferlin Husky’s “Wings Of A Dove”; “Spirit In The Sky” by Norman Greenbaum; Judy Collins “Amazing Grace”; “The Lord’s Prayer” by Sister Janet Mead; “Are You Ready?”by Pacific Gas & Electric; “Put Your Hand In The Hand” by Ocean; Bob Dylan, “Gotta Serve Somebody”; and “Jesus Is Just Alright” by The Doobie Brothers.) The audience definitely notices and they get many comments about these songs. Bob says that you can, and should do ministry wherever you are. The old adage “bloom where you’re planted” applies. https://kool1071.com/
He’s also launched a new teaching ministry called “Bible Question Man” which will go live in late 2022. @biblequestionman.com @BQM.FYI
Bob says this…”I’ve learned that it’s too easy to become a ‘professional Christian’ You’re working every day around other believers, listening to Christian music, talking about Christian features, etc. But at the end of the day, did you personally get closer to God? Don’t mistake being in Christian ministry with your own personal seeking after God’s truth and deepening your relationship with Him?”
He says, “It was a blessing to me that I had the opportunity to bring so many great people into Christian radio, many of them for the first time out of secular radio. They all know who they are and so I’ll take this chance to say it was a genuine pleasure bringing them into Christian ministry and getting a chance to work closely with them.”
A few thoughts from Bob
“Hey CCM Radio …I have always believed that you have HUGE potential… to impact not only individuals and families, but cities, states and even our entire country for good. And now, as it appears to be getting darker and darker out there, I believe it’s even more crucial to make sure that the CCM ministry light is truly shining clear and bright to help dispel the darkness. I don’t know if we’re getting near the end, only the Father knows for sure. But whether we are or aren’t, make sure the truths you present each day are God’s Truths. Do your research in the Scriptures. Be strong and courageous! To God be the glory for the great things He has done. I’m praying for you.”
Who is a CCM Radio Pioneer that should be featured in a future article? Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Faron Dice has been in Christian Music Radio for almost 40 years. He is the former Chief Content Officer for WayFM, and currently loves working with radio stations and artists as National Director of Radio and Artist Engagement for OneChild.