The History of Your Network of Praise
Reaching Families, Changing Lives
Members of the original Board of Directors - groundbreaking at the KXEI tower site - fall, 1982
What began as a simple discussion over lunch, God has turned into a network of Christian radio stations across a 5-state region in the United States, an international broadcasting ministry serving Africa, and a ministry through which He has provided medical care, food, evangelistic work, and more in many places throughout the world!
In 1979, insurance agent Marvin Calahan and oilman Wayland Elenburg had a lunch meeting to discuss insurance. But, somehow, the talk soon turned to Christian radio and the need for a station to serve Havre, and the hi-line region of Montana.
On August 6, 1980, Marvin and Wayland and a local CPA, Jerry Waltari, signed & filed the papers creating Hi-Line Radio Fellowship, Inc., a non-profit ministry which would be dedicated to building a Christian radio station in Havre! These three men acknowledged that they did not have the knowledge, the people needed, or the money to build a station...but, they had a calling from God and so they went forward by faith, trusting God to fill in the blanks!
And, He did!
Over the next few years several more people got involved as board members, donors, volunteers. One of them, Ed Matter, was to become Hi-Line Radio Fellowship's first (and only!) employee in 1982, tasked with the enormous job of raising funds, finding a studio location, tower site, potential staff members, and all of the other details that would have to be worked out.
On July 28, 1983, at 6:00am, KXEI 95.1FM in Havre signed on as "Your Channel of Praise", with the National Anthem and a recitation of The Lord's Prayer by those assembled in the small office and studio located in the back of Havre's Christian bookstore! The new radio station was on the air 18 hours per day with outstanding Christian teaching programs and music, along with local news, weather and other information.
KXEI was on the air...and the people loved it!
Just weeks later, on August 28, 1983, a woman walked through the door...Lois S. Ramberg...and told Ed she would like to become an announcer at KXEI. Though Lois already had plenty to do as a farmer & rancher, on that day she began her ministry at KXEI. Noone knew back then how many ways God would use Lois in her new role! Her love for the Lord and people, her dedication, and generosity have been used by God to help establish and build the ministry. Lois remains the longest serving employee of KXEI / Your Network of Praise today!
During the 1980's people in other communities on the hi-line asked if it would be possible to be able to air KXEI in their cities, and that led to the first of many FM translators being built. Glasgow and Cut Bank went on around 1985, as well as a translator in Great Falls.
In 1989, a group from Helena approached Ed Matter and asked for help in building a station there. It soon become apparent that instead of just mentoring the Helena group, KXEI was to operate a station there and simulcast its programming on the Helena station. But, funds were very tight and no FCC licenses were available at the time. God moved, though, and soon a local secular radio company offered to loan KXEI an AM radio station! This would enable KXEI to go on the air in Helena with no start-up costs, to significantly increase the number of people it was reaching, and to be able to receive donations which could be saved up to build its own station eventually!
On June 3, 1991, KVCM AM680 signed on at 6:00am with a prayer by KXEI's Program Director, Paul Rangen, and the ministry of KXEI / KVCM - "Your Channels of Praise" was up and running!
Two years later, the Lord provided an FM license in Helena, and KVCM 103.1FM debuted in early August, 1993!
A major development came about in 1994, when KXEI was given the opportunity to uplink its programming onto satellite, enabling Your Channels of Praise to feed its programming anywhere in the northwestern US that it could obtain an FCC license for a station. KGFC in Great Falls debuted in 1996, KPLG in Plains the following year, and a few more translators were added in Montana...enough that by the end of the 1990's it was decided to change the ministry's name from Your Channels of Praise to Your Network of Praise (YNOP)!
Then, in 2003, came the first open door to begin broadcasting in another state when the American Family Association asked YNOP to take over KAXG in Gillette, Wyoming, as well as an FCC license for a new station in Sheridan. Soon, a third Wyoming location went on the air when YNOP had the opportunity to build a new translator in Rock Springs.
After 25 years of leading YNOP, Ed Matter retired as General Manager and Roger Lonnquist assumed that role on November 1, 2006. Roger had been a YNOP volunteer and board member since 1989, and had been on staff since 1999.
Around that time, YNOP received numerous Construction Permits for translators and stations, and in 2007, a total of 14 new FM signals went on the air! YNOP's long-time Technical Director, Ron Huckeby, spent many long days traversing the states of Montana and Idaho going from one new tower site to the next until all were on the air! Though YNOP continues to add new stations each year, there has never been another year quite like 2007!
In 2009, YNOP leadership felt the Lord's leading to look to the immense unmet physical and spiritual needs around the world, and to ask YNOP listeners to partner with YNOP in meeting whatever needs God set before us. This led to the first-ever Thanksgiving Week Outreach in November, 2009...the Thanksgiving Week Outreach airs annually on the Monday before Thanksgiving, from 6:00am to Noon, and focuses on providing resources to meet human need somewhere in the world. In a typical year YNOP also randomly airs fundraisers for additional outreaches as the Lord directs.
One such outreach, raising funds for medical missions in Tanzania, forged a friendship between YNOP's leadership and Bishop Eliudi Issangya, the founder and President of the International Evangelism Outreach, a multi-faceted ministry based in Tanzania. As Bishop Eliudi shared his dream of having a Christian radio station to reach the people in his part of Tanzania, it became clear that the Lord would have YNOP partner with Bishop Eliudi in establishing the station. On December 3, 2015, New Life Radio 96.7FM began broadcasting in Boma Ng'ombe, Tanzania!
As testimonies poured in from New Life Radio listeners it became evident that there was more to do in Tanzania, and possibly other regions of Africa, and YNOP's staff, leadership, and many listeners began praying for God to open doors to reach more people in Tanzania.
These prayers were answered when on June 1, 2020, YNOP began providing substantial funding to operate Radio Uhai 94.1FM in Tabora, Tanzania. Radio Uhai had begun operation in 2017, but funding was scarce. We praise the Lord for the partnership of YNOP and Uhai Media that now enables Radio Uhai to reach large numbers of people for Christ throughout the Tabora Region of Tanzania!
In 2019 and 2020, YNOP's management and board had been prayerfully considering a major step forward in reaching people throughout Africa with the gospel, and in September, 2020, the board of directors of YNOP voted to go forward with the development of the New Life Africa Satellite Network (NLASN)! This new network launched on May 1, 2021, broadcasts a format of Christian music and teaching programs, of which about 12 hours per day are in Swahili and 12 hours per day will be in English. The format is broadcast across the African continent via satellite, which can be received by anyone with a small satellite dish and inexpensive receiver. The satellite signal reaches 50 countries in Africa, with about one billion people living in them. NLASN is also streamed online and through mobile Apps. Programming is offered free of charge to any radio stations that would like to air it, as well, and within the first several months of operation NLASN picked up about 60 affiliate stations in 15 African nations!
The establishment and operation of the New Life Africa Satellite Network takes a lot of funding, hard work, and some special people to accomplish. God has provided us a wonderful team to operate the network, including our Africa Director, Joseph Kebbie, who joined YNOP / NLASN in early 2021.
As NLASN grew, it became apparent that there was a big need for a second satellite network which could duplicate the ministry of NLASN, but broadcast in the French language. Vie Nouvelle Afrique will debut on Monday, March 28, sharing the message and hope of Jesus with French-speaking Africa! It will broadcast on the powerful Intelsat-20 satellite, which reaches much of Africa, western & central Europe, and more! We praise God for this exciting new ministry opportunity to reach people in many new countries!
As we look back on all that God has accomplished since YNOP's first station began in 1983, we marvel that He has accomplished so much through the work of a small staff and leadership team, supported solely by the financial gifts and prayers of God's people!
Staff members who have served 20 years or more include Ed Matter (founding General Manager), Lois Ramberg (Announcer), Brenda Boyum (Station Manager), Ron Huckeby (Technical Director), Beth Jorgenson (Ministry Relations Assistant), and Roger Lonnquist (Network General Manager). There are others including Paul J. Rangen (Assistant Manager / Announcer), Brian Jackson (Announcer), David Brown (Program Director), Earl Houtz (Ministry Coordinator / Announcer), Nick Tobiason (IT / Announcer), Carlene Prince (Administrative Assistant) and others who have played special roles at YNOP over the years and we are grateful for each one!
As YNOP listeners and staff continue to serve together, God will continue to reach people around the world with His message of hope, love, forgiveness, and salvation...to Him alone be the glory!