Suffolk radio listeners soon may be tuning in to WORJ-LP, Worship Jesus Radio.
The Federal Communications Commission recently granted a license for the new Low Power FM radio station to The Master’s House Church on Pruden Boulevard.
It was one of 1,150 licenses granted nationally to nonprofits this year. Two other Hampton Roads organizations received new licenses: St. Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Hampton and Juneteenth Virginia of Portsmouth.
Pastors Princella and Maurice Johnson believe a radio station can capitalize on Princella’s broadcasting background and help them better execute the church’s myriad community outreach efforts.
Princella Johnson is a former Army broadcaster and media relations specialist who entered ministry in 1991. Maurice Johnson is a 20-year Navy veteran who joined the calling in 1999. The couple was married in 2004 and founded The Master’s House Church, a nondenominational, multi-ethnic ministry, in 2006. The church has been housed in several locations, most recently in an industrial strip mall at 3537 Pruden Blvd.
Despite its modest membership, which the Johnsons described only as “small,” the church undertakes ambitious community outreach services and projects including: HIV/AIDS education and prevention; pregnancy prevention for teens; Y2K Academy youth mentoring; food giveaway program in partnership with Panera Bread; Suited for Success clothing closet for men; Y2K Dadz Responsible Fatherhood Initiative funded through a $25,000 federal grant; fall school supply giveaway; and court-ordered parenting classes.
“The love of Christ goes beyond the four walls of the church,” Princella said. “Even though we are a church, we see ourselves as a vital part of the community.”
And now, after years of serving community needs, The Master’s House hopes Suffolk will reciprocate. The church can’t build a radio tower at its current location because the space is leased.
“We’re hoping to get someone to donate a space where we can integrate everything we do and where we can construct a tower,” Princella said.
The tower location must be in or near downtown in order to meet licensing stipulations. The Johnsons also were told construction is contingent upon approval of a conditional use permit by the city. Construction must be completed by August 2015 unless the FCC grants an extension.
The Low Power FM radio service was created by the FCC in 2000. Low Power stations are authorized for noncommercial educational broadcasting only and operate with 100 watts or less, with 100-foot antennas. They can broadcast to a radius of about 3.5 miles and are not protected from interference from other classes of FM stations, according to the FCC.
The Johnsons envision the station as a community resource with a variety of programming – news, Christian broadcasts, educational programs, music, and military outreach – as well as opportunities for students from local schools to learn about broadcasting.
“We want to partner with the city and the schools to offer opportunities to students and really give the community a stake in the operation of the station,” Princella said. “We’d love to get retired veterans and teachers involved.”
Station sponsors will be able to connect with the public not just via the radio, but through the integration of various platforms, including mobile texting, social media, instant messaging and voice messaging, Princella said.
The church is having a public information forum about the proposed station and sponsorship opportunities Thursday to answer questions and get feedback from community stakeholders.
“A radio ministry will help us take our message out to the community rather than expect them to come to us,” Princella said. “We hope people will rally around us and help us achieve this goal. This radio station would be a great asset to the city.”
Lia Russell, 222-5562, firstname.lastname@example.org