The history of Positive 89.3 isn't about one person or even a few. It's about God spurring thousands of believers to be a part of His ministry in reaching New England and the world through Jesus Christ. Here's another chapter in Positive 89.3's amazing history. In January of 1984, God began planting the seeds for what would become Positive 89.3. Founders Thom Starkey and Jim Butt, along with 20 other Believers, came together to form what was originally Maine-ly Music Ministries, later to become Downeast Christian Communications. The group initially launched a cable access program aimed at gathering support for a radio station. Seven years of prayer, patience, sacrifice and determination would see this small but dedicated group through, as they waited for their vision to become reality. Their faith over the years of bi-monthly bake sales, the loss of the original tower location, and running out of funds, allowed us to share the message of God's hope with thousands today.
Ever tried to pour cement in January – in Maine? Impossible, right? Not if you need to raise a tower for God. In January 1993, in the midst of a period of record cold, the temperature turned a balmy 60, just in time to pour the cement for Positive 89.3's original tower on Bailey Island. This was just one of many miracles God performed to insure Positive 89.3 would sign-on before the construction permit expired. Just getting the property to put the tower on was a miracle. After losing a site 500 feet away, a Christian couple nearby was approached and the request was emphatically refused. Less than 24 hours later, the woman was on the phone insisting that God had told her they were to do this. The board held a final prayer session when the money had dried up and the permit for the station was going to be lost. The next day, a check for $10,000 was received, insuring the project would move forward.
Finally, in July of 1993, Positive 89.3 signed on the air. The station wasn't able to broadcast 24 hours initially. For months, dozens of volunteers helped take turns coming in to sign the station off. Short of funds, Positive 89.3 held its first Sharathon in October of 1993, seeking to raise 40,000 dollars. It was a very emotional early victory for the board and volunteers who had given so much to bring Christian music to the airwaves of southern Maine. Sacrifices were still being made however, as the studio would go through the winter of 1993-94 with space heaters as the only source of warmth. It wouldn't be until the following winter that a heating system was donated and installed by a team of listeners.
Early on, it became apparent to the board and staff that the original 91.9 frequency wasn't covering the area they had hoped. The signal barely reached greater Portland, the largest population base in Maine and didn't reach much, if any, of York County. In 1994, dozens of volunteers took to the streets and roads throughout southern Maine to count houses as part of the application process for the vacant frequency at 89.3 fm. That same year, Positive 89.3 launched its first major area of community outreach, concert promotion. Positive 89.3 would welcome Greg Long and 5 other artists in '94 and 1995. Positive 89.3's concert ministry continues to be one of the station's most effective means of reaching out with the good news of Jesus Christ.
After a disappointing spring Sharathon in 1997, many thought the station might not survive. But, God continued to move us forward! Positive 89.3 was given an opportunity to sell its existing frequency to another Christian ministry. Meanwhile, the door opened, allowing the ministry to secure a new frequency, 89.3 FM, which would be more effective in covering a broader area, including greater Portland and York County. A new morning team re-energized Positive 89.3's sound, and, by fall, listeners were buzzing with anticipation for the new frequency. Late on Saturday, November 29, 1997, Positive 89.3 began airing at 89.3 fm. A state map was posted in the office, with pins added for new communities that had never heard Positive 89.3 before the transition. The ministry had truly been given a fresh start!
The late 90's brought an ice storm, three times more listeners, an expanded staff, tens of thousands of concert goers at the many concerts Positive 89.3 sponsored, a power boost, Positive 89.3 broadcasting globally on the internet, extensive broadcasts tied to the Luis Palau crusade, full coverage of the first New England visit of Promise Keepers, the birth of ministry initiatives like Can the Van, Pint for Life, Positive 89.3 nights, Family Day in the Park, and free-will spots for hundreds of area churches and ministries. Listener support enabled Positive 89.3 to grow in other important ways as well: like the addition of a new computer system, upgrading studio equipment, the installation of air conditioning, health insurance for the staff, and a station van. Most importantly, the increased signal strength allowed our new listeners to hear of Christ's love while others recommitted their lives to Him.
Through the highs and lows of those early years, the board, staff and volunteers held to the belief that this was God's station and He would use it to glorify Himself. As Positive 89.3 launched into a new millennium for ministry, we welcomed unprecedented numbers of people to witness Maine's first Christian concert prior to a professional sporting event, when Aaron Benward appeared before a Portland Pirates hockey game. The four-day sell-out of Mark Schultz's March 2001 concert led to Positive 89.3's first multi-concert event, with over 1900 people attending the back-to-back shows. After eight years as a network affiliate, Positive 89.3 finally had a local team of broadcast professionals on the air.
Positive 89.3 saw two very different events shape the ministry in the second half of 2001. In late May, we launched our "Summer of Compassion". To our human eyes, we felt raising 200 Compassion sponsors would be commendable. Little did we know how short-sighted we were. As we wound up our celebration in late August, we were humbled to see 608 children sponsored by members of the Positive 89.3 family. We were just beginning to switch gears from summer to fall, when the events of September 11th caught us all off guard. In a matter of moments, the staff of Positive 89.3 was responding, providing regular news updates, spiritual insights from local church leaders, and information on area church services. Subsequent days saw the airwaves opened for your reactions, as well as the reactions of local and national Christian leaders. Many listeners shared how God used Positive 89.3 to provide them with strength during this time of great uncertainty.
Sharpening our vision could easily be Positive 89.3's theme for 2002. A revision of the mission statement proclaimed our purpose "to seek and save the lost, strengthen the Christian church, and glorify God." Lunch for a Bunch successfully gave evidence of this refined mission in action. More than just a fun radio contest, Lunch for a Bunch enabled Positive 89.3 personalities to visit municipal offices, engineering firms, contractors, schools, medical practices, and corporate headquarters, sharing an unexpected meal and, in many cases, the Gospel. The ongoing building renovations gave the staff ample opportunity to plan for our growth, and, with the completion of the first phase, allowed us to increase our effectiveness in serving our listeners. A strong, consistent team solidified events like our record-breaking Pint for Life blood drives, our second successful Compassion campaign, and the history-making Come Together Tour with Third Day, with nearly 5000 in attendance.
The Positive Radio Network was committed to ministry long before Positive 89.3 took to the airwaves. Local families were the beneficiaries of food and Christmas gifts for several years, while the ministry was still a cable broadcast ministry. Through its history, hundreds of churches and ministries have received free airtime through our Community Calendar, as well as our customized, free-will donation spots. Positive 89.3 has also initiated several of our own ministry efforts. Can the Van, in cooperation with the Salvation Army, feeds hundreds of families each Fall. Our Pint For Life events partner us with the Red Cross and the Auburn and Maine Malls each year, with record-setting results. Our past Toy Drives have assisted area crisis pregnancy centers and discipleship homes in their ministry to single and unwed mothers. Through the years, Positive 89.3 has raised tens of thousands of dollars for families in crisis. Our efforts have not only met needs locally, we've also provided listeners with an opportunity to reach our world through blankets for those in Rwandan refugee camps, provided toiletries to the fatherless in Belize, and share the Gospel with an unreached people group in China. Over the past several years, we've partnered with Compassion International to see more than 1500 children receive sponsorship in third world countries.
Positive 89 Three and concerts. It's a combination that has seen tens of thousands of Maine and New Hampshire listeners enjoy the music and ministry of some of the finest national Christian artists right here in northern New England. In April 1994, less than a year after signing on the air, Positive 89.3 welcomed Geoff Moore and the Distance, along with a crowd of over 1700, to Portland City Hall Auditorium. David Meece, Mark Lowry, Steve Camp and Ray Boltz would all make appearance before the year ended. The following year, Rich Mullins and Greg Long would both appear at South Portland Church of the Nazarene.
After a two year hiatus, Positive 89.3 returned to concert promotion with a sold-out Avalon performance, followed by a full house for Greg Long, then another sold-out event with 4HIM. The past several years have brought dozens of artists, including the A Tour with Avalon, Anointed and Nichole Nordeman, Ginny Owens, Ken Davis, Rebecca St. James, Mark Schultz, Joy Williams, Third Day, Tait and the Paul Colman Trio, Chris Tomlin the history-making appearance by Michael W. Smith and Mercy Me, the All Things New Tour with Steven Curtis Chapman and Casting Crowns, a very successful Barlow Girl concert, culminating with the Indescribable Tour kicking off in Portland at the Cumberland County Civic Center featuring Chris Tomlin's first headliner tour along with his friends Matt Redman and Louie Giglio. Positive 89.3 continues our commitment to provide northern New England with live, national-caliber Christian music.
2003 marked a milestone in the life of Positive 89.3, as we celebrated ten years broadcasting to Maine, New Hampshire and, through the Internet, to every corner of the globe. Music continues to be the staple of our ministry efforts, both on air and live. Hundreds turned out to enjoy our first New Hampshire concerts with Nichole Nordeman, Ginny Owens and downhere. Of course, Michael W. Smith and Mercy Me will rank as one of the most memorable nights of worship in Positive 89.3 history. Throughout 2003 we were also WoWed By Your Talent, found out why Your Mom Rules, and, even relieved your cabin fever. If that weren't enough, we sent hundreds of siblings in foster care out to a Sea Dogs game, and shared a first-hand look at life in a Tanzanian slum. We really enjoyed the completion of our second phase of renovations here at Positive 89.3 – especially the new studios! Together, we have seen many lives touched over the years. We look forward to all that lies ahead for the ministry of Positive 89.3 and for our listeners, both near and far.
In the winter of 2003, an idea to provide Christmas gifts to foster children caught the interest of hundreds of Positive 89.3 listeners. A short two weeks saw an overwhelming 1400 gifts pour in from across southern Maine, truly making it a Christmas to Care. Changing lives has always been the cornerstone of the ministry of Positive 89.3. Each person in our sold-out previews of the Passion of the Christ was impacted by the incredible reality of Jesus' love and sacrifice. A six-year dream became a reality when God provided for a morning show in March of 2004. The Ready to Fly Tour in Lewiston was not just an incredible concert; 25 lives were changed forever, as individuals accepted Christ's love into their hearts. At the start of our second decade, Positive 89.3 continued to broadcast 24 hours a day to southern Maine and New Hampshire, and began steps to expand our coverage area into Massachusetts.
Radical and Renovation are two words that will always be synonymous with the second half of 2004. The largest giveaway in Positive 89.3 history took place when Positive 89.3 staff and volunteers came together to bless a family by radically renovating their bedroom. God had also done a radical renovation within the ministry of Positive 89.3, enabling staff to learn to lead like Jesus. We put a new morning show in place, and after months of planning, The Zone premiered September 2004 on Saturday Nights, reaching out to youth with positive Christian rock music. The building renovations allowed youth groups to visit and hang out in The Zone, and hear the message of Christ. As part of our commitment to spread Christ's Love to Maine, New Hampshire and to the world, the Positive 89.3 board and staff continued to pray and plan for a future signal expansion into areas without Christian radio. Countless trips to tower sites in Massachusetts and New Hampshire became necessary to locate a potential future site for an expanded signal, as frequencies were tested and partnerships developed. Through all the renovations, God has continued to work through the ministry of Positive 89.3, allowing countless individuals to experience the most Radical Renovation of all - welcoming Jesus Christ into their heart.
The early part of 2005 saw a 2 year dream become a reality as Positive 89 Three got the news we'd been waiting to hear, we would soon be able to expand our coverage into Massachusetts and New Hampshire. With the purchase of translator signals, efforts began to "raise the tower" and broadcast the Love of Christ into New England Communities that have never experienced the impact of Christian radio. Hundreds of man hours and countless prayers will be needed to raise the funds necessary to construct the towers and get the signals operational, but for a station started with bake sales and prayer, God will provide the necessary miracles to allow this dream to become a reality. Christmas 2004 saw amazing dreams realized as you shared the true meaning of Christmas with families in our local community and across the country. Your love reached across the miles and touched a family that had lost one son to muscular dystrophy, and was loosing another to the same dreaded illness, as funds were provided to fulfill their Christmas Wish, a gravestone for their sons' burial site. Your generosity also paid the remaining balance on the burial plot so that both brothers could be laid to rest side by side. 2005 saw another dream become a reality, for the first time in station history, Positive 89 Three received a Dove Award Nomination. We prepared for a missions trip to Ecuador, and continued efforts to achieve the greatest dream of all, God working through the ministry of Positive 89 Three to change lives for eternity.
Reaching out became the theme for the second half of 2005, as the single biggest miracle in our station's extraordinary history became a reality. With the approval of the FCC for our new tower sites in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, The Positive 89.3 officially became a radio network. Soon Positive 89.3 will reach communities that have never experienced Christian Music on their radio dial. With this tremendous expansion came our new name The Positive Radio Network, the acquisition of radio dial frequency 99.9 in Massachusetts, and 95.3 in New Hampshire, a new logo to reflect all three of our dial positions, and the addition of a new morning team. Your Friends in the morning took to the airwaves in July. We reached out with the message of love to Ecuador with our missions trip in July with Zoegirl, and your generosity reached halfway across the country with our rescue effort, Operation Reach Out, to help those in the Gulf Coast devastated by hurricane Katrina. With the purchase and acquisition of our new signals complete, Positive 89.3 has begun the awesome task of raising the funds necessary to begin the construction phase. Positive 99.9 in Massachusetts, and Positive 95.3 in New Hampshire, will be on the air as soon as the funds are raised for construction, enabling us to continue to do What God has called us to...to reach out everyday with the Hope and Love our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Radio veteran Kenny Robinson came on board in 2007, hosting Your Friends In The Morning and handling programming and music duties. 2007 also saw Positive 89.3 host The Newsboys, Kutless and New World Son at the Augusta Civic Center. The concert sold out with nearly 6000 people in attendance. This would turn out to be the biggest concert on that tour, for the Newsboys! Between 2008 and 2011, Positive 89.3 would see our support continue to grow during Pledge Drive. Our budget was increased and we were able to expand in several directions, including getting Positive 99.9 in Haverhill, Massachusetts on the air. Concerts with Brandon Heath, 33 Miles, Rush Of Fools, Jonny Diaz and others, blessed our community. Positive 89.3 sold out the Seaside Pavilion in Old Orchard Beach in 2011, for Mark Schultz in just 4 days!! Positive Acts Of Kindness was launched and listeners have taken up the challenge to touch others around them, with simple acts of kindness...introducing them to the love of Jesus in a whole new way. Listeners have joined us, and Mission Of Mercy, on missions trips to Honduras and Mozambique, reaching around the globe with Positive Acts Of Kindness. We've also seen children sponsored thru the 28 Hours Of Mercy during those trips.
In 2012, we've seen God move thru evenings with Ken Davis, Michael W. Smith and Steven Curtis Chapman, as we've teamed with the Salvation Army. Suzanne Happs joined the staff as General Manager. She joins us from our sister station in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Our signal upgrade was granted by the FCC, in the spring. Equipment was ordered and delivered thru the summer and the work to upgrade the stations signal was completed in October. This increase saw the stations power increase and the antenna moved up higher on our tower. That has allowed Positive 89.3 to now be heard as far north as Augusta and Waterville...Farmington...and eastern and southern New Hampshire. Then, the upgrade came to our signal in Haverhill, MA. That upgrade solidified the signal reaching northern areas of Massachusetts and south-central New Hampshire on Positive 99.9.
2013 saw a bigger and stronger Positive 89.3 and Positive 99.9. With the signal upgrades, there is the potential for 1 million listeners under our signal coverage. The Mission Statement for the ministry was refined, and is "To Impact People For Christ And To Equip Them To Put Their Faith Into Action". Moving forward, we will strive to impact New England, the United States and the World and provide opportunites for you to join us in doing so. About 6000 Forget Me Not Valentines Day cards were created by listeners and distributed in local nursing homes, retirement communities and assisted living centers. Over 3 years, that's about 17,000 people, reminded that they are not forgotten and that they are loved. Together, we enjoyed the reunion of Audio Adrenaline with a concert in Biddeford, helped marriages with the Weekend To Remember and help to introduce the movie Home Run. 2013 is the 20th Anniversary of Positive 89.3. New 20th Anniversary t-shirts were available, and brand new bumper stickers. We welcomed the three founders of the ministry...Tom Starkey, Jim Butt and Steve Whiting...as they shared memories of the miracles the Lord did to get this station going. Our spring Pledge Drive was a leap of faith as we cut the length in half...going to 5 days only! Listeners were up for the challenge as the amount raised in 5 days, was equal to what took 2 weeks, previously. A huge success!! Summer brought some special events to celebrate our 20th Anniversary. We gave you opportunities to join us in ministry thru Positive Acts Of Kindness, our missions trip to the Dominican Republic and child sponsorship thru One Child Matters. We welcomed Laura Story and comedian Jeff Allen to Old Orchard Beach. A special party at Uno, at the Maine Mall saw a huge turnout. The summer and our 20th anniversary wrapped up with Mark Schultz in concert...and we kicked off a BIG change for the ministry. The station became POSITIVE FM with the debut of a new logo, new jingles and imaging on the air, new t-shirts, new bumper stickers and more. The new name better reflects our signals in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. We now look forward to how God is going to use the ministry of Positive FM for the next 20 years!