Jesus in the air: the surprising meaning of Detroit's WJBK

Folks in Detroit may already know this, but it was news to me.  The TV station is marking an anniversary today, and Kathy Schiffer gets the scoop:

Not a huge fan of television, I would say “Who cares?” except for a little tidbit I heard on WWJ’s radio news this morning.  According to FCC regulations, call letters for stations east of the Mississippi begin with the letter “W” and those west of the Mississippi begin with “K.”  Every station’s call letters stand for something:  Chicago’s WGN, owned by the Chicago Tribune, stands for “World’s Greatest Newspaper”).  The university-owned station of West Virginia University in Morgantown is called WWVU.

But today I heard that the call letters of WJBK—which were certainly chosen by the founders—stand for “Jesus Be Kind.”

In its early days, WJBK had its studios in the Masonic Temple in Detroit.  After several moves, the station now broadcasts from its present location on West Nine Mile Road, a few miles down the street from my house.

In the late 1960s, WJBK aired sci-fi and horror films on Saturday afternoons, with host Sr. Graves Ghastly, a lovable if unlikely vampire played by Lawson J. Deming.  And for twenty-five years beginning in the early 1970s, WJBK produced a 15-minute nationally-syndicated religious lecture program called “With This Ring.” Father Raymond Schlinkert, the show’s host, offered advice to married couples about marriage and family life.

Thanks for the tidbit, Kathy!

Check out more at her engaging blog: Seasons of Grace.

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2 responses to “Jesus in the air: the surprising meaning of Detroit's WJBK”

  1. I knew about the east and west of the Mississippi letter distinction, but I didn’t know that the other letters also stand for something. With that in mind, I think I’ve figured out what some of our major TV stations stand for.

    NBC – Nothing But Crass
    CBS – Certainly Base Stuff
    ABC – Anything But Conservative

    (I’m kidding. ;))

  2. I’m a little skeptical about the requirement that they stand for something. But I remember reading the W/K distinction some time back when I looked into it.

    Interestingly enough, there are certain exceptions, such as WACO in Waco, TX. Some of these make sense, and some seem to be just anomalies, like KFIZ in Wisconsin.

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