WFUR Christian Radio - "His" Story

WFUR has been proclaiming the good news in song and word for many decades.
1. THE BACKSTORY
WILLIAM KUIPER, FOUNDER OF WFUR CHRISTAIN RADIO, WAS BORN AND RAISED IN GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN. HIS FATHER OWNED A CLOTHING STORE ON GRANDVILLE AVENUE. BILL WORKED AT HIS FATHERS STORE. AFTER WORK HE OFTEN PLAYED VARIOUS SPORTS. OF THOSE, HIS FAVORITE WAS BASKETBALL. ALTHOUGH HE ATTENDED CHURCH, BILL HAD NEVER MADE A PUBLIC COMMITMENT TO CHRIST. WHEN HE WAS 33, HIS FATHER SUGGESTED THAT IF HE PUT HALF AS MUCH EFFORT INTO THE LORDS’ WORK AS HE DID INTO SPORTS, HE COULD REALLY BE SOMETHING. ABOUT THE SAME TIME AN ELDER APPROACHED BILL , WONDERING WHY HE HAD NOT MADE HIS PROFESSION. AFTER A SHORT TIME OF THOUGHT , BILL APPEARED BEFORE THE CHURCH COUNCIL. HE PROFESSED HIS FATIH AND DETERMIND TO DO WHATEVER THE LORD WANTED HIM TO DO. FROM THEN ON, HE ALWAYS SAID YES WHEN ASKED TO DO ANY CHRISTIAN ENDEVOUR.
2. THE SMALL START
SEVERAL YEARS LATER A LOCAL RADIO PROGRAM CALLED THE “HOUR OF PRAISE” WAS FLOUNDERING. THE “HOUR OF PRAISE” DID LIVE REMOTE BROADCAST FROM AREA CHURCHES, FEATURING A HYMNSING AND A MESSAGE. ITS’ FINANCES WERE EXHAUSTED . WHEN ASKED HOW MUCH HE WOULD CHARGE TO TAKE IT OVER , BILL SAID “NOTHING”. HE HAD THE JOB! OVER THE NEXT DECADE, BILL KUIPER ORGANIZED THE WEEKLY BROADCAST, PURCHASED THE AIR TIME AND HOSTED THE HYMNSINGS. THE OFFERINGS WERE ALWAYS ENOUGH TO COVER THE COST OF AIR TIME. THE ONE PROBLEM HE HAD WAS WITH THE RADIO STATIONS. IF THEY FOUND SOMEONE WHO WOULD PAY A LITTLE MORE FOR A GIVEN TIME SLOT THE “HOUR OF PRAISE” WOULD BE CANCELLED. THEN BILL WOULD HAVE TO FIND ANOTHER STATION TO AIR THE PROGRAM.
3. THE BIG CHALLENGE
WFUR –AM 1570 WAS PUT ON THE AIR BY A GROUP OF WWII VETERANS IN 1947. IT WAS PRIMARILY A SECULAR RADIO STATION.AS SUCH, WFUR WAS NOT DOING VERY WELL. BILL KUIPER BOUGHT AIR TIME FOR THE “HOUR OF PRAISE “ ON WFUR. AFTER A WHILE, THE OWNERS SUGGESTED TO BILL MAYBE HE SHOULD BUY WFUR. AFTER BEING STUNNED BY THE IDEA (BILL WAS STILL RUNNING THE CLOTHING STORE) HE CONSIDERED THE POSSIBILITY. HE PRAYED ABOUT IT AND FELT LED TO PURCHASE WFUR. HIS IDEA WAS A NON-DENOMINATIONAL CHRISTIAN RADIO STATION. IT WOULD BE SUPPORTED BY CHRISTIAN ADVERTISERS. LISTENERS COULD HELP BY DOING THEIR NORMAL SHOPPING AT THE ADVERTISERS BUSINESS. BILL BELIVED THE TITHE SHOULD GO TO THE CHURCH OR MISSION PROJECTS----NOT A RADIO STATION.
THE PRICE ASKED FOR WFUR WAS AN ASTRONOMICAL ONE FOR BILL KUIPER. $50,000. HE WOULD NEED HELP. HE WENT TO AREA CHURCHES TRYING TO DRUM UP SOME INTEREST AND INVESTORS. MOSTLY HIS PRESENTATION WAS MET WITH SILENCE. SOMETIMES A FEW WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT WERE OFFERED. HE WAS NEARLY READY TO GIVE UP ONE NIGHT AT A JENISON AREA CHURCH. DISCOURAGED… AFTER ANOTHER LUKE WARM RECEPTION. HE WENT AND SHUT HIMSELF IN A CLOSET. BILL PRAYED. HE PRAYED AS TO WHETHER THE RADIO IDEA WAS THE LORDS WILL FOR HIM. WHAT DID THE LORD WANT HIM TO DO?
4. GOD WILL MAKE A WAY
AFTER HIS PRAYER, THAT NIGHT, BILL MET AN AREA FARMER WHO QUERIED AS TO HOW THINGS WERE GOING. BILL SAID “FRANKELY NOT VERY WELL AT ALL.” HE ONLY HAD $500 IN COMMITMENTS SO FAR. THE FARMER SAID”PUT ME DOWN FOR SEVEN” BILL THANKED HIM NOT ASKING FOR CLARIFFICATION. THE NEXT MONDAY THEY MET AT THE CORNER OF 28TH STREET AND BURLINGAME. THE FARMER GAVE BILL A HANDFUL OF CHECKS AND CASH TOTALLING $7,000! THIS ENCOURAGED AND ENERGIZED BILL. SOME TIME LATER THE FARMER DISCLOSED THAT HE AND HIS WIFE HAD PLANNED TO GIVE ONLY $700. HE JUST DID NOT KNOW WHY HE GAVE SO MUCH MORE? BILL REMEMBERING HIS EARNEST CLOSET PRAYER, SAID RIGHT AWAY “I DO”! FUNDS CAME IN EASIER AFTER THAT START. BILL STILL HAD TO SELL HIS HOUSE AND THE CLOTHING STORE TO COVER THE REMAIDER. AT FIRST, WFUR WAS LOSING $1,500 A MONTH(1950 DOLLARS), THE STAFF WERE MOUTHY AND MOST PEOPLE SAID IT WOULD SURLEY FAIL.
5. CHRISTIAN RADIO IS ON THE AIR
AT FIRST, IT WAS DIFFICULT. TO SAVE MONEY STAFFING WAS REDUCED. THAT WAS NOT ENOUGH. BILL KUIPERS’ SON MET A MAN, WHO WAS INVOLED IN SALES, AND HE WAS VERY IMPRESSED WITH HIM. HOWEVER,HE DID NOT GET HIS NAME. WITH ONLY SKETCHY INFORMATION TO GO ON ,BILL SEARCHED TILL HE FOUND HIM AND INDEED, WITHIN A FEW MONTHS SALES WERE UP. WFUR WAS FINANCIALLY SOLVENT.
EVENTUALLY BILLS’ SON, WHO HAD HELPED HIM OUT WITH A LOAN FOR THE DESPOSIT ON WFUR, CAME TO WORK AT WFUR. IN 1960 WFUR-FM 102.9 WAS CONSTUCTED. ALSO WKPR-AM 1420 IN KALAMAZOO WENT ON THE AIR. ADDITIONAL STATIONS WERE ADDED IN MUSKEGON AND DOWAGIAC.
6. CHANGING TIMES
IN JUNE OF 1978 WFUR FOUNDER BILL KUIPER WENT HOME TO HIS LORD. WFUR AM/ FM AND WKPR AM ARE STILL OPERATED BY THE KUIPER FAMILY. THROUGH THE YEARS THERE HAS BEEN LOTS OF CHANGE. EQUIPMENT, STAFF,PROGRAMS AND MOST NOTICIBLY MUSIC. THROUGH IT ALL THERE HAS CONSISTENTLY BEEN THE MESSAGE OF SALVATION IN JESUS. THE FURNITURE CITY BROADCASTING CORPORATION CURRENTLY PROGRAMS THREE WEST MICHIGAN RADIO STATIONS. THE WFUR CALL LETTERS CAME FROM THE WORD FURNITURE . GRAND RAPIDS USED TO BE KNOWN FOR THAT.
WFUR-AM 1570 (1000 WATTS) COVERS AN AREA OF 30 MILES IN ALL DIRECTIONS AND IS ON 24HOURS A DAY. ITS PROGRAMING IS A MIX OF TRADITIONAL/CLASSIC CHRISTIAN MUSIC AND A BROAD SELECTION OF CHRISTIAN TEACHING PROGRAMS. WFUR-FM 102.9 (50.000 WATTS) COVERS 90 MILES OUT IN ALL DIRECTIONS FROM GRAND RAPIDS. PROVIDING 24 HOUR SERVICE. IT FEATURES SELECT CHRISTIAN TEACHING PROGRAMS AND A FAIRLY WIDE SELECTION OF TODAYS CONTEMPORARY CHRISTAIN MUSIC. WKPR 1440 (2700 WATTS) IN KALAMZOO COVER 40 MILES OUT IN ALL DIRECTIONS. WKPR IS ON EACH DAY 6AM TIL SUNSET. IT OFFERS TEACHING PROGRAMS AND MUSIC RANGING FROM TRADIONAL HYMNS TO CHRISTAIN CLASSICS AND NEWER CONTEMPORARY HITS.
 

WFUR is located at 399 Garfield Rd., Grand Rapids, MI 49504 • Studio Line: 616-451-9387 • Main Office: 616-451-9387