WJBK: After 24 Years, Jesus Be Kind!

On October 24, 1948, television station WJBK began broadcasting to the Detroit Metro area as a Dumont Network affiliate, owned by George B. Storer.  In 1949, WJBK was the first station in Michigan to produce live telecasts of Detroit Lions and Detroit Tigers games.  In 1952, Dumont Network went out of business and the station became a CBS affiliate; in 1994, it switched again to broadcast as a Fox Network station.

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.

Congratulations to the station’s staff and management– and best wishes for many more years.

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