After 27 years, FEBC shutting down Saipan station for good

Posted on Aug 23 2011

Far East Broadcasting Co., a non-profit, non-denominational missionary organization that broadcasts the gospel of Jesus Christ to many parts of Asia, will decommission its radio station on Saipan by the end of the year, after 27 years of broadcasting on island.

Bob Springer, FEBC general manager, attributed their decision to government deregulation and advances in communications technology that he said have significantly reduced the demand for shortwave broadcasting.

Shortwave broadcasting is a long distance broadcasting mechanism that allows a radio station to broadcast up to 4,000 miles.

“In the last two and a half years, FEBC has studied the trends in technology in the audience listening habits and the conclusion of this exhaustive study has been we should cease broadcast from Saipan while continuing shortwave broadcast from our facilities in the Philippines,” Springer said.

Founded in 1945, FEBC began with a vision of starting a radio station in China and constructing programming studios in Shanghai. But with the Nationalist government’s concern about the Communist takeover, FEBC wasn’t given a license to operate a station there.

“That was sought in the Philippines, have to get property, get a license to broadcast from the Philippines into China,” said Springer. “The first station went on the air just three months before China fell to the Communists and it’s been broadcasting to China ever since.”

With the ministry’s rapid growth, FEBC started broadcasting from Okinawa to China in 1957 and Korea in1971.

In 1975, FEBC initially came to Saipan “to explore the possibilities of building a station here.” In 1978, FEBC created KSAI to serve the Commonwealth.

“While we were operating KSAI in those early years, negotiations went on for land to build a shortwave station and in 1981, a lease was signed in the Marpi area to build the station where we’re located,” said Springer, adding that FEBC officially went on air in 1984 with four transmitters broadcasting to Russia, China, and Southeast Asia.

At the height of its broadcasting efforts, FEBC broadcasted to about 15 different countries in 24 different languages and dialects, including that of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and the Ukraine.

Springer disclosed that they receive tens of thousands of letters every month from people responding to the gospel they broadcast.

Having lived on Saipan “longer than anywhere else that I’ve ever lived,” Springer said he feels sorry to go.

“While we’ve enjoyed the 27 years that we’ve been able to operate here on Saipan, the government and the commercial side of things here on Saipan has been very good to us and we’ve appreciated that… But we can see the time and we know that that’s the thing we need to do,” added Springer.

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