My drives up and down the interstate afford me ample time to think, ponder a variety of subjects, and listen to the radio (and alternately, books on CD). During these chunks of time, I occasionally wonder why Maine as a state continues to languish economically, culturally (with the exception of Portland, primarily), and whether a new administration in Augusta will make any significant difference.
Once I drift north of Augusta and begin to lose the southern Maine radio stations, there isn’t much for variety on the FM side of things. Jim Rome’s national sports talk show can be picked up via WJJB-96.3, aka, The Big Jab, an FM blowtorch with a signal that travels up and down the I-95 corridor. I can only handle so much of Romey, however, as his schtick tends to irritate in large quantities, at least according to my tastes. There is public radio, and MPBN, which I do listen to semi-regularly, and actually caught this interesting piece tonight on my way home, about Lewiston, home base for the work that I do.
Since my schedule this week has been extremely hectic, I haven’t been able to find the 15 minutes, or so required to squeeze a trip to the Maine State Library in on my lunch break, or passing through Augusta on my way home. Hence, I haven’t been able to pick up an interesting book to listen to. As a result, I’ve had to imbibe more bad radio than I prefer.
Interestingly, I discovered something today I had never noticed before—mid-Maine has a significant number of Xian radio stations. I’m not quite sure why this is. Is this part of Maine in the throes of a religious revival that I’m not aware of? Do the residents of Augusta, Waterville, and Fairfield have a greater propensity for the rock knock-offs of bands/artists with names like Newsboys, Addison Road, Tobymac, and Kutlass?
These were all artists that I heard on some station called K-Love, located at 102.1 (WKVZ) on the FM dial, and originating out of Bangor.
According to K-Love’s information pack (which you are required to download in order to access), they don’t play commercials (because they know their listeners don’t want them), are “positive and encouraging,” and they can “help you make a difference.”
Actually, K-Love’s information pack left me nonplussed, and unimpressed--basically, it contains little substantive information about the station.
I only listened to K-Love for about 15-20 minutes in truth, and scanned the website briefly, but my experience with Xianity prompts me to take a stab at pegging this station as catering to a segment of so-called believers that I’ve run into that I define as “consumerist Christians.” They have both feet firmly planted “in the world” of American consumerism, and their faith places a sanitized veneer over an overly materialistic approach to life. They tend to equate being a good Xian with being a Republican, see Sarah Palin as someone to admire (her new book is being distributed to Xian book stores via mega-religious publisher, Zondervan), are by-and-large anti-abortion, and probably support the Yes on 1 position on Maine’s upcoming, and overly divisive gay rights referendum.
Another station specializing in watered-down rock with spiritually-oriented lyrics is 99.3, WWWA, which the FCC indicates is based in Winslow and is affiliated with the Worship Radio Network.
From the station’s website, which like K-Love’s, again provides very little beyond generic information about WWWA, or the WRN; I did learn, however, that “all radio stations at Worship Radio Network are non-profit, 501c3, non-commercial radio stations. Most radio commercial radio stations rely on sell ads to make a profit. We ask you to invest in the station financially so we can bring you more of what YOU want without all the clutter.”
If you prefer Bible teaching to music, you can pull in 99.5, which is listed as WJCX, and apparently emanates from Pittsfield. This station is affiliated with the Calvary Chapel churches, and featured a variety of scripture-based teaching programs each time I tuned in.
Calvary Chapel is a non-denominational church, which claims ties to evangelicalism. They were founded in 1965 in Southern California. The original Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa was pastored by Chuck Smith, operating as a cross-cultural missions organization that bridged the "generation gap" that existed during the Vietnam War period. Calvary Chapel became a hub for the Jesus People movement that was prevalent at the time, particularly on the west coast.
Calvary Chapel pioneered a less formal and contemporary approach in its worship and public meetings. For example, it did outreaches on the beach and baptisms in the Pacific Ocean. Much of Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) has it roots in Calvary Chapel worship music. Additionally, Calvary Chapel features a “rolling commentary” style of preaching, centered on the biblical text each sermon is based upon. Their style of worship, and emphasis on contemporary styles of worship music makes me think they are very similar to the Vineyard Churches, which can be found dotting Maine’s landscape in Lewiston, Mechanic Falls, Westbrook, and a few other communities.
I’m not quite sure what this concentration of Xianity means north of Augusta. I did find it a bit odd, but then again, I don’t find much about organized religion beneficial, or personally edifying. Others may have a different take on this than I do.