The Immanuel Broadcasting Network, with primary studios in Cartersville but with a signal that covers much of Northwest Georgia, Northeast Alabama and Southeast Tennessee, has tweaked its format to respond to a new generation of Christian radio audience.
“We’re trying to get with our day and time,” said Joe Frank Harris Jr., chairman of the IBN board. “We’ve got to have really good music.”
Now branded as “The Message,” the network, perhaps ironically, will include less of what Harris referred to a “preachy” time with greater emphasis on contemporary Christian music.
“We’re kind of hitting the reset button on our music and trying to be a little more intentional in providing what I would consider to be real quality Christian music that’s available nowadays,” said IBN President Neil Hopper. “There are so many new artists out there right now like Kari Jobe, the Planetshakers, Francesca Battistelli and others with a fresh new sound in Christian music.”
The network went on the air as WCCV in May 1983 in Cartersville. The primary signal in the Rome area is located at 91.7 on the FM dial. The network grew as as a series of translator stations tapped into the WCCV signal on different low-power frequencies across the region. IBN is currently heard on 11 stations ranging from the base signal in Cartersville, to stations in Canton, Chatsworth, Dalton, Ellijay, Lithia Springs, Ringgold and Woodstock in Georgia to Piedmont and Fort Payne in Alabama and a lone signal in Chattanooga.
“We decided it was a good thing to break from the past and go straight in and rebrand it as The Message for You,” Harris said. “It’s kind of a big change.”
Harris explained that modern radio listeners, as they scan the dial, have a very short period of time to grab someone’s attention.
“We’ll still put on the Michael Yusef’s and Focus on the Family, which really got me into this, but then you can only talk on that clock about two minutes or people will turn you out,” Harris said.
Hopper said the initial response to the format change, which occurred last week, has been well received by the audience.
“We’re trying to be more relevant, connecting with our people and asking for their opinions, asking them to text us and so forth,” Hopper said.