WCSG Deepens Roots in West Michigan
An inconspicuous beige building that once sat quietly in the southeastern part of Cornerstone University's campus is now teeming with excitement and activity. Located at East Beltline and Bradford Street, the former church is the bustling construction site of the university's most recent renovation—Project 2020. In just a few short months, the building will be the new home for the long-standing Christian radio station WCSG.
WCSG began broadcasting in 1973. An endeavor led by a handful of passionate students of the then Grand Rapids Baptist College and Seminary, WCSG featured easy listening, classical tunes and Bible teaching. The team operated out of a building known fondly by students today as the "blue" gym. Over the next two decades, WCSG would transition to a solely Christian station and become the foundation for many on-air ministries, including His Kids Radio, Mission Network News and WayFM. Today, the station broadcasts family-friendly and commercial-free adult contemporary Christian music and teaching programs.
Nearly 50 years later, listener-funded WCSG is heard by over 180,000 listeners on four frequencies, ranking consistently as one of the top three radio stations in West Michigan. The station is still proudly run by graduates and at present, one half of WCSG employees, including executive director Chris Lemke (B.A. ’84), are former Cornerstone students. The station has long since outgrown its 7,100-square-foot facility, and to maintain current broadcasting volume and expand into other digital outlets outside of traditional radio, it is finally expanding into a bigger, better studio.
The idea of expanding is nothing new, with talk dating back to the early 1990s when then station manager Lee Geysbeek (B.A. ’93) dreamt of a larger, more sophisticated facility.
It wouldn't be until 2017 that a decades-old dream would start becoming a reality. With the go-ahead from CU, the proposed $5.7 million remodel of the former church could finally go public with Project 2020, the station's first-ever capital campaign. In late April 2019, during a week-long radio campaign, listeners of WCSG committed over $1 million toward a new building, bringing funding to 95% after private contributions had reached 80% earlier in the year. The new studio will provide nearly 5,000 square feet of additional space, easily housing dedicated on-air personalities, a greater number of support staff and more advanced technology and equipment.
"The listeners are our team and an integral part of who we are," Lemke says in appreciation for the overwhelming response of the community. "It has been incredible to see how God has favored the whole process."
Since the official groundbreaking in September 2019, Lemke and the entire WCSG staff have anticipated the opportunities the new broadcast studio will offer. For one, going deeper into the community and broadening into different platforms as part of a strategic initiative. On a technical level, the new building will be able to accommodate more digital platforms, expanding into podcasts, streaming and social media, in addition to traditional radio. WCSG also hopes to award students pursuing media careers with scholarships and valuable learning experience at the station. With a greater number of employees overall, WCSG will be able to partner with churches and organizations on a bigger scale and create a larger impact within the community.
"God has given us an incredible gift," says Lemke, who looks forward to what the future holds for WCSG. "We aspire to be the leading media influence in West Michigan, and with the resources to match our staff's skills and passion for listeners, we can see more people come to Jesus."