When the old transmitter finally went out at his radio station last Memorial Day, Jerry Hutchinson knew it was time to take action to save what he had worked so hard to build.
KHCA-FM 95.3, or, as most locals know it, Angel95, is a contemporary Christian radio station aimed at Kansans, particularly college and high school-aged people, according to Jerry, who has been running the station since it first opened in 1990. His son, Daniel Hutchinson, and nephew, Matt Brown, also work for the station. Daniel, assistant manager, and Brown, sales director and production manager, both said they grew up in the radio business and now love coming to work every day.
“Since [Jerry] was always up here working on this place, I got to know the business a little and was interested,” Brown said, as he spun back and forth non-chalantly in his office chair, shoulder-length blond hair following him slowly and then settling as he stopped and grinned. Brown, senior in business management and ethics at Manhattan Christian College, is also rhythm guitar player for local Christian band Cloverton, which recently released its first CD.
Now, Daniel, whose genuine interest in people and kind smile resemble his father’s, and Matt are putting their love for the station to the test by helping raise support for a new transmitter. Jerry, who recently celebrated his 40th year in radio, explained when the old transmitter stopped working, Angel95 lost touch with most of its audience past a 40-mile range, but with new equipment, it will be able to service people further away, reaching between Topeka and Lawrence.
The station will be sponsoring a Listener Appreciation Day from 3-10 p.m. on Friday in the University Christian Church parking lot at the corner of Claflin Road and Browning Avenue to raise support to buy a new transmitter. The event will run like a carnival, with activities for children and adults of all ages to enjoy, Jerry said. There will be bounce houses for children, an obstacle course for adults, carnival games, live local bands and a silent auction featuring items like massages, auto services, CDs and many others. Also, at 5:15 and 8 p.m., there will be a showing of the Christian film, “Can We Talk?” about a young man struggling to overcome his past and learning to put his faith in God, Matt said. The film is directed by Doug Thompson, a resident of Abilene, Kan.
“If you’re looking for a fun, cheap alternative to Country Stampede, I would definitely encourage them to come check us out,” Daniel said.
The station’s office, located at 103 N. Third St., Suite A, is not what visitors might expect at a contemporary radio station. One large, high-ceilinged room is separated into four by a thick, wooden divider, and countless old music posters, many with scrawled signatures, are tacked and taped to the walls, from several decades and artists. The office is a throwback to its earlier years, with vintage, vinyl couches and yellowed photos, comic strips and newspaper clippings scattered around as decorations.
Though the station employs about five people, Jerry, Daniel and Brown are the only full-time guys who work there most days, and it shows. Each has his own personality, but all have a subtle energy, talking quickly, with bursts of laughter in-between. They are gentlemen, and interested in people’s stories, often stopping what they’re doing to ask questions and make visitors feel at home.
“This is not your typical workplace, it’s a pretty relaxed environment,” Matt said. “And it might not always seem like it, but a lot of work does get done around here.”
Several offices and two studios, all lined with foam to help with acoustics and sound accuracy, house the equipment the staff uses to run the station and send out their music to Manhattan and surrounding areas. Angel95 offers listeners a wide-range of music, from contemporary to hard-rock, Daniel said.
“We’ve found that a lot of people who aren’t even Christians listen to us,” he said. “I think it’s just so positive, you can always be encouraged by the music.”
Unfortunately, many of these people are not being reached, Jerry said, because of Angel95’s broken transmitter. The transmitter, which is responsible for sending out the station’s signal to its audience’s radios, was more than 20 years old and will cost Angel95 $35,000 to replace.
“On our own, we will never be able to pay for this, but we know that God will take care of it all,” Brown said.
And it’s this kind of unwavering faith that all three men said has guided the station to the success it has now. Brown said they pray together during most meetings and lean on each other during work and as family.
“We are just three guys, helping each other through the struggles of what it is to be a guy,” Brown said. “And hopefully we can share some of that with our audience, Christians and non-Christians.”
Brown and Daniel said it’s important to the station to not only get the station back up to reaching as many people as possible with a new transmitter, but to share their message of Christ’s love.
“This is something we want to start doing every year,” Matt said. “Not just because of the transmitter.”
1. LISTENER APPRECIATION DAY
-University Christian Church parking lot, 2800 Claflin Rd.
There will be a carnival featuring bounce houses, scavenger hunts, live music, a silent auction and more, and there will be activities for all ages. Money raised at the event will go to purchase a new transmitter for the local Christian station.
2. If you are interested in getting involved with Listener Appreciation Day or with Angel95, contact the staff at email@example.com, and for more information about the station and it’s broadcast schedule and concert line-up, check out its Web site, angel95fm.com, or it’s Facebook.com fan page.
3. For college-age listeners, tune in every night from 9 p.m. – 2 a.m. for Angel95’s “Late-Night Mix,” featuring Christian rock/alternative music from popular musicians as well as many up-and-coming local artists.