DALLAS (BP)–If you were driving through Dallas 26 years ago, listening to the sounds of KCBI-FM being broadcast from a small Sunday school classroom of First Baptist Church, chances are you’d lose the station before leaving town. With very low power, the original signal didn’t get too far beyond the downtown Dallas area. Today, the station reaches over 200,000 Metroplex listeners each week and has earned national recognition as a leader in Christian broadcasting.
With growth in broadcasting power, size, budget, staff, and ministry impact, KCBI is now ranked among the top Christian music and teaching stations in the nation. In addition to receiving the Radio Station of the Year Award from National Religious Broadcasters on Feb. 19, KCBI has received NRB’s news award, numerous Associated Press awards for news, features, and sports, and Dallas Press Club Katy awards for excellence.
“We are excited when our peers honor us as we seek to honor our Lord,” said Ron Harris, executive vice president and CEO of Criswell Communications. “But ultimately, it is not about awards or recognition, though these can be tools. It is about lifting up Christ before our listeners, that we might know Him and serve Him.”
W. A. Criswell’s vision of a Christian radio station has developed into a major ministry for the evangelical community in North Texas, West Texas, and Southern Oklahoma, encompassing KCBI, KCRN-AM and KCRN-FM of San Angelo and KSYE-FM of the Frederick, Okla. With the number of listeners in the Dallas area doubling in the last decade, the audience for each station of Criswell Communications is on a steady growth pattern and extends to an international presence on the Internet through www.kcbi.org.
“The radio is just filled with all kinds of worldly programs, but rarely, back yonder did you ever hear programs concerning God and the Bible and the inspiration of scripture,” stated Criswell in an interview with KCBI’s Sharon Geiger. “So I just announced that we were going to have a radio station that was dedicated to the Word of the Lord. And the hand of God on that station is an amazing thing to me.”
Harris said, “So often we hear people say that when they listen to KCBI or another Criswell Communications’ radio station, there’s a consistency of theological thought. It is not narrowly defined by denominationalism; it is defined by the truth of God’s Word. And I think so much of that comes out of the heart and the spirit of Dr. Criswell.”
Harris said that Criswell set the example and was willing to stand up when it was not popular to do that and say, “‘This is what God’s Word says. This is what we believe.'” That attitude has been a hallmark for KCBI, Harris added.
The Criswell Communications mission is “using today’s technology to introduce the lost to Christ and to lead believers to share the hope and peace of Jesus with the lost in their world.” Its broadcast ministry recently extended to Hispanic believers in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex via a sub-carrier radio system. Red Hispana de Radio Cristiana (Hispanic Christian Radio Network) is a mutual partnership ministry with CAM International.
KCBI’s ministry to the community has included clothing and food drives, collecting and distributing over 4 million Christian books and Bibles to prison ministries sponsored by First Baptist Church of Dallas, shipping over 25,000 pairs of new shoes and socks to Russian orphans, distributing clothing and vitamins to Cuban churches ministering to the elderly, and providing radios tuned to local Christian stations in Sub-Saharan Africa through a partnership with HCJB Missionary Radio.
Through the purchase of property adjacent to the studio in Arlington, Criswell Communications will secure future needs. Harris hopes to expand the station’s ministry for over one million Spanish-speaking people in the DFW area through programming over special radios, eventually offering a regular broadcast station in Spanish.
“Our overall ministry goals are to share Christ with the lost who listen, and to encourage and strengthen believers in Christ to share Him with all in their sphere of influence,” Harris said. “We will look carefully at each new emerging technology to see how we can best use it to tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.”
Harris added, “KCBI is honored to have the finest staff of broadcast professionals who serve the Lord with the skills He has given. They wholeheartedly give themselves to the job of excellence in broadcasting that honors our Lord Jesus. At the same time, they each see what they do as a ministry opportunity to our community through the exciting tool of Christian radio. Finally, they view their work as an offering to God for his goodness to each of us. It is a joy to be a part of such a team.”