WJSM Radio had its start many years ago by a man with a dream for South Central Pennsylvania to have its own Christian Radio Station. He was Kenneth W. Ferry of Martinsburg, who owned a trucking firm, and while driving heard a more Northern Christian Station, WPHB in Phillipsburg, founded by Rev. William Emert.
Mr. Ferry thought that the Martinsburg area needed a station like that and began by filing an application for an AM station in the early 1960′s. After several applications and amendments to those applications, the FCC granted a construction permit for an FM station instead.
WJSM-FM pioneered FM Christian Broadcasting with its first regular scheduled broadcast on April 19th, 1965. Back in the 1960′s, FM broadcast frequencies were virtually unknown, or hardly used and fewer people yet had FM receivers.
WJSM-AM finally came on the air on February 27, 1968. The LORD obviously had better plans for WJSM as licenses were issued for both a daylight AM station and an unlimited Class A FM station. The FM band finally became more popular by the early 1980′s, and listenership grew.
One of the most often asked questions is: “What do the call letters stand for?’ Originally, WJSM stood for “Witness” and three Latin words, “Jesus, Savior, Munday”. Thus, WITNESS, JESUS SAVIOR (of the) WORLD. We came up with a new logo in the late 1990′s, and had a theme song written for WJSM. WJSM = Wonderful Jesus Savior Master.
The WJSM studios were first located adjacent to the founders home in North Woodbury Township, Blair County. Ken Ferry worked long hours along with his wife, Margaret, who worked hard and long hours as office manager and feeding the staff with some of the best food in the world.
The Ferry’s owned the stations for 10 years. They were sold in 1975 to two part-time employees interested in seeing Christian Radio remain in South Central Pennsylvania. They were Sherwood B. Hawley of Bedford and Larry S. Walters of Hollidaysburg. Mr. Ferry passed away shortly after the stations were sold. WJSM Radio pioneered in broadcasting “FOCUS ON THE FAMILY”. WJSM was one of the first 20 stations nationwide to broadcast the “Focus On The Family” program founded by Dr. James Dobson in 1977. The program started as a 25 minute weekly broadcast.
WJSM operated from a small three room apartment on South Locust Street in Martinsburg from 1976 until 1982. Offices and studio’s were then moved adjacent to the home of one of the owners, Larry Walters, approximately three miles east of Martinsburg.
The stations pioneered the use of satellite delivered programs by joining the Satellite Radio Network in the early 80′s. A network which delivered programs via satellite instead of on reel to reel tapes. This network was ahead of its time and folded several years later. Satellite programming is a major source of programming for most Christian Radio stations today.
WJSM-FM brought the first 24 hour a day Christian programming to our section of the state in the early 1980′s. There were no Christian Stations broadcasting during the night time hours and this service was very well received. It seems that our programming was very effective in bringing some peace of mind to those who were troubled and could not sleep. God’s Word in music works in wonderful ways anytime of the day, but especially during the quiet, sometimes lonely, hours of the night.
The WJSM Stations were sold in 1989 to Martinsburg Broadcasting, Inc. from Sherwood Hawley and Larry Walters. Larry Walters was the President of the corporation, and remains as its President to date. Sherwood passed away on July 27th, 1993.
In 1994, the WJSM Broadcast Center was constructed along Rebecca Furnace Road in Huston Township, Martinsburg. The Broadcast Center houses the WJSM main studio, two full production studios, an engineering department, an audio library, offices, with a conference and meeting room on the lower level.
It all began with a promise in 1965. WJSM – the little station with a big dream -made a solemn promise to its small audience. “Come over and help us, and WJSM will always be a Christian station.” They did and the station and audience grew! WJSM now has the most loyal and largest audience ever listening today. And it all started with a promise. A promise WJSM has kept since 1965.