FROM PROMISE TO FULFILLMENT, Part 2.
“God causes all things to work together for good”
This is the start of the story of Engineer F. M. Perry’s involvement with the construction and start-up of operations of The World Christian Broadcasting Corporation’s international short wave radio station KNLS at Anchor Point, Alaska.
June 1979 -
F. M. Perry, Consulting Telecommunications Engineer, in the Foreign Service, U. S. Department of State, retired from the Foreign Service in June 1979. F. M. knew nothing at that time of the existence of The World Christian Broadcasting Corporation or its plans to broadcast the gospel of Christ.
November, 1979 -
Land at Anchor Point (71.35 acres) was purchased by World Christian Broadcasting Corporation for possible use in establishing an international shortwave broadcasting station..
February 1980 -
At a chance meeting of old friends, Robert E. Scott and F. M. Perry, at the ACU lectureship in Abilene, Mr. Scott mentioned that he would be contacting F. M. shortly in connection with a new endeavor in which he had become active. He said he could not discuss it as yet but it entailed an opportunity to serve the Lord.
May 1980 -
Robert E. Scott accepted Presidency of World Christian Broadcasting Corporation.
June 1980 -
Robert Scott outlined in open letter to the brotherhood on June 4, 1980 a plan to start construction by May 1981 of a shortwave radio broadcasting station at the Anchor Point, Alaska site. He started immediate work to raise funds, to prepare to go to the FCC for a broadcast station license, and to take detailed action to get necessary work underway. This was the first definite news that F. M. had ever read about World Christian Broadcasting.
Concerning the history of WCBC to this point, Bob wrote:
“WCBC is a non-profit enterprise. It was incorporated in 1976 in Texas with Ken Ferguson, an Arizona broadcaster, as Chairman of the Board of Directors. Dr. Lowell Perry, Professor of Mass Communication at ACU, was the first president. Tragically, Ken and Lowell were killed in a plane crash in March 1977 on the Island of Martinique, along with Hal Frazier. They were seeking a site upon which to build an international short wave radio station for WCBC.
“Another founding Board member, Charles Whittle, became the next Chairman of the Board. Whittle is an elder in the church in Natick, Massachusetts and is an executive of the Zayre Corporation in Boston. The next president of WCBC was Dr. B. E. Davis, Professor of Mass Communication at ACU. He serves actively now as a member of the Board and is Chairman of the Executive Committee.
“Other members of the Board are: Maurice Hall, a former missionary to France and Vietnam, now preaching in Whittier, California; Ed Bailey, a former missionary to Italy, now teaching Mass Communication at the University of Nebraska; Dr. George Bridges, a dentist in Lawton, Oklahoma, who is active in broadcasting; Gayle Crowe, a preacher in Chatham, New Jersey; Pat McMahon, an elder in Anchorage, Alaska; Cline Paden, an elder in the Sunset church in Lubbock, Texas; and, John Fisk, a preacher in Akron, Ohio, fluent in Russian and an experienced broadcaster.”
In a copy of the open letter sent to F. M. Perry of Strasburg, Virginia, Bob asked F. M. to become an active member of a Board of Advisors to the Corporation. F. M. replied by letter:
“Your letter concerning World Christian Broadcasting Corporation has aroused my excitement. I’ll be happy to serve on the Board of Advisors and I wish to offer my services especially in the area of technical planning and implementation of the shortwave stations. I retired from government service a few months ago in favor of self employment. Since I have some retirement income to sustain my wife and me, I would be willing to work for the corporation for little or no remuneration other than expenses.
“I am a radio systems engineer with experience in designing and constructing somewhat similar radio systems in remote parts of the world. My resume of experience is attached so that you may evaluate my potential for assistance to the effort.
“Charlotte and I decided some years ago to take early retirement so that we might be available for more extensive use in the Lord’s service while we still have good health and physical vitality. Since our income decreased rather drastically after leaving government service, we sold our house in Reston, Virginia and moved to our summer cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Since then we have been quite happily engaged in winterizing the cabin, visiting old home sites in upstate New York, and visiting Texas to attend the ACU lectureship (the first time we have been able to attend such a lectureship.) I am now serving as an elder at the Front Royal, Virginia congregation and spending part time writing teaching material (on Romans, Hebrews, and on the subject of the “whole man,” “spirit and soul and body.”) We feel that for the past few month we have been resting in the Lord and waiting patiently for Him to show us avenues of further service. Perhaps He would have us assist you with World Christian Broadcasting Corporation.
“My wife and I are planning a trip to Alaska this summer to visit my sister who lives in Anchorage and to visit sites on the Richardson Highway at which I worked during the War in 1942 - 1943. During those years I took part in an “expedition” to transport to Alaska and to build an entire military base on a wilderness site near where the present community of Glennallen has grown up. We also expect to do some sight seeing along the Kenai Peninsula. I would be happy to do anything I can to further the Alaska station installation while I am there if you so desire. I certainly would like to look at and study the property that has been purchased.”
Bob replied in writing:
“”I’m delighted you were willing to accept the invitation to be a member of our Board of Advisors. Most importantly, I rejoice from within at your willingness to have a part in the work of WCBC utilizing your training and experience as an engineer. I am certain there will be many ways in which you can be of enormous value to us as an engineer. Presently our cash flow will require that your services be accepted as a gift, with reimbursement for expenses incurred on our behalf. But at some point, perhaps, those terms can be modified where appropriate.
“It encourages me to know that you and Charlotte have been seeking guidance from God as to how you would be involved in the Kingdom. ... I believe God has been at work fashioning you for just such a time as this.
“Our property is located on the Kenai Peninsula at Anchor Point. The legal description is: 71.35 acres of land composed of the North ½ of the NW 1/4 of Section 18, Township 5 South, Range 14 West, Seward Meridian, Third Judicial District, State of Alaska. [This is the only description we ever had of the newly purchased WCBC property until we had our own survey made.]
“It is also adjacent to the property of Norman Lowell Smith, an elder in a nearby church, and an artist. ... Other persons who would be significant points of contact would be Pat McMahon, an elder and the educational director of the church in Anchorage. Pat is a member of the WCBC Board of Directors. The person in Alaska who has had technical involvement with the Anchor Point project is Dr. Robert D. Hunsucker in Fairbanks. He did some studies for WCBC.
“Our desire is to install a 250 kw transmitter at Anchor Point using a steerable antenna. ... We have permission to use the design for a steerable antenna system which HCJB has built. I understand it has been developed at great cost by USIA, but never constructed [that is, except in prototype at HCJB, Colombia, South America]. ... An analysis has been made on the size of cable we would need to withstand icing at Anchor Point [that is, analysis of change in design from tropical to arctic installation]. My inclination will be to obtain confirmation of the validity of the analysis. When something this large and important is involved, I need a second opinion. How would we go about that?”
This was the “design problem” as first presented to F. M. It set the stage for several months work to finally get the station design that was licensed to be installed at Anchor Point in 1982.
July and August - 1980.
F. M. And Charlotte accelerated the work they were doing to finish the winterizing of their old house (cabin) near Strasbourg, Virginia in order to get away on their long planned vacation trip to Alaska. F. M. also began to make some detailed design plans with Bob Scott for the radio station at Anchor Point. F. M. made the first approximation of a PERT management chart (“Program Evaluation and Review Technique” diagram listing all the tasks involved), useful for guiding the management of the design and construction of a shortwave transmitting station at the Anchor Point, Alaska site.
During this period F. M. was informed of previous work that had been done by Evangelist/Engineer Germaine (Jim) Lockwood who had been considering, before the purchase of the Anchor Point site, the possible use of a different more remote site in Alaska. Jim had been promoting tentative plans for purchasing a 250,000 watt transmitter from a small manufacturing company in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In Mr. Lockwood’s plan the transmitter was to be fired into a mechanically steerable high gain antenna similar to one in use by international broadcast station HCJB in Colombia, South America. The tentative plan called for the antenna, which has a mechanically steerable beam coverage over 120 degrees in azimuth, to be oriented so that it’s beam could be steered due north over the pole into Europe as well as to the northwest and west into Asia (Siberia and China). F. M. learned, however, that the Alaska site had been selected primarily for its nearness to Europe via over-the-north-pole propagation routes. There were great expectations among all concerned for broadcasting directly over the north pole into Europe, something that other international broadcasters were not attempting to do. This was the basis for the planning that Bob Scott mentioned in his initial letter (above) to F. M. Bob Scott, who had just been appointed by the Board of Directors to be President and CEO of the Corporation, wanted some confirmation from another engineer that the tentative planning to purchase the 250,000 watt transmitter and the HCJB steerable antenna was a viable way to proceed.
With this in mind, a decision was made for F. M. to accompany Bob Scott and Jim Lockwood on a quick trip to Cedar Rapids to investigate the possibility of procuring the transmitter there. It was found that the company was no longer in active production but was prepared to guide us in the construction of our own transmitter if we would set up to do our own assembly near the home of the transmitter designer (Mr. Mayre who was partially disabled). We also took the opportunity while in that part of the country to visit the Harris Corporation in Quincy, Illinois, probably the best known manufacturer of high power shortwave radio transmitters in the U. S. at that time.
F. M. advised that assembly of our own transmitter under the direction of the original designer (Mr. Mayre) would probably not be impossible, but it would immediately put the project into a situation where the final cost would be uncertain, problems that might be met were unforeseeable, and the schedule would be questionable. Indeed, it would mean the setting up of a separate project on which the major Anchor Point project would depend and might cause a holdup to the major project. F. M. recommended to Bob Scott and to WCBC to drop the Cedar Rapids company transmitter from consideration and to get cost estimates from the Harris Corporation for one of their production HF transmitters with guaranteed performance and delivery schedule.
(To be continued.)