After three years of waiting for permission from the Polish government, HCJB World Radio's local partner, Radio CCM, went on the air in the city of Cieszyn last month.
"The station is in full operation," said CCM Radio Director Henryk Krol. "Not only can the station be heard in the city, but throughout the area and across the border in the Czech Republic where many Poles live."
According to HCJB, this brings the number of stations in the Radio CCM network in southern Poland to five, joining Oswiecim (Auschwitz), Ustron, Bielsko-Biala and Gliwice. Although Cieszyn only has a population of about 40,000, the five stations combined are within hearing range of some 3 million people. Listenership surveys indicate that about 10 percent of residents tune in to Radio CCM at least weekly.
Krzysztof Budzisz, chairman of the Radio CCM board who visited HCJB World Radio's international headquarters in Colorado Springs earlier this month, said the antenna for the Cieszyn station is mounted on the tower of a local Lutheran church-the tallest church in the city. "The priest gave us permission to erect the antenna at no charge.”
Budzisz said much of the programming aired on the network, especially during the day, is "pre-evangelistic," aimed at a non-evangelical audience as 89 percent of Poles are Catholic. "We have a lot of short programs interspersed with words of encouragement and Bible verses that many drivers listen to," he explained. The evening programming is designed more for an evangelical audience with an emphasis on Christian music, preaching and Bible-teaching programs.
Krol said the network's mission is to "introduce people to the knowledge of the gospel and pray that they will respond to the Holy Spirit. People who are spiritually indifferent are our main target. We are a friendly voice, giving local information, playing good music and airing programs that give a personal approach to faith. Nearly 99 percent of our listeners are Catholic."
HCJB World Radio played a key role in encouraging CCM, formed in 1975 during the communist era, to add broadcasting to its outreach of recording and distributing Christian music. The media ministry began applying for radio licenses in 1995, and the first station went on the air in Auschwitz in 1999.
Radio CCM has applied to put a sixth station in Chorzów, a city of 120,000. Plans are also being made to link all stations in the network via satellite whenever finances and government approvals are in place.