After decades of disturbing absence from the airwaves, and years of powerful prayer, our government opened the door to Christian Broadcasting in 1993. A few months later while preparing a Christian float for a local Christmas Parade, Wayne Wendorf told Curtis Belcher about Christian television, and that Sudbury should apply for a station. Curtis replied that Wayne should go for it. Wayne said that he was too busy, and that Curtis should build it. Curtis said “OK”. Curtis met with local businessman Marcel Gratton and police officer Michael Cruickshank and shared the idea with the men. It was then that Marcel gave the first financial gift towards Christian broadcasting in Northern Ontario.
In 1995, Curtis Belcher met with officials from TBN, the largest Christian Television network in the world, and secured $10,000 in funding towards the broadcasting project.
Three other men in Sudbury were also keen on the idea of Christian television, and they rallied together with Curtis to begin praying. James Kennedy, Louis Depatie, and Albert Berube met with Curtis weekly, and prayed for Sudbury’s station. They applied for a Charitable number and believed that this ministry would be a part of what the bible calls the “end time harvest”. Thus, “Harvest Ministries” was born. Meanwhile, TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network) helped fund several other applicants across the country, and a total of 12 cities from coast to coast applied for a television license. Only one city was awarded a license, the Miracle Channel in Lethbridge, Alberta. Sudbury along with 11 others was turned down.
In 1996, the Lord led Curtis & Shelley Belcher to Christian radio. They put together an application for a station in Sudbury, and the group continued to pray. On a beautiful June 6th, in 1997, James Kennedy was sitting in Curtis’ small office in the Eaton Building on Notre Dame Street in Sudbury when just after 10am the fax machine started up, and out came a license for a Christian Radio Station!
We shouted so loud that a businessman down the hallway in another office asked us what all the commotion was about. We walked over to his office and told him the good news. We then shared the gospel with him, and he gave his heart to Jesus!
In late September of 1997, CJTK went on the air as a low power, non-commercial station, becoming the 6th Christian Station in all of Canada. The station had an original budget of $12,000 per year – and was run out of Curtis Belcher’s Income Tax Office.
Curtis & Shelley Belcher were the founders of this little ministry, and Curtis became the first (and only for a short while) DJ on the station! Some say that he was one of the pioneers of “multi tasking”. He would be serving his Income Tax clients one minute, and then excuse himself to the other side of the one-room office he had rented, to change the cd that was playing on the radio station! A simple 5 foot high, blue office divider was all that “separated” the tax business from the radio station. It may have been one of the most humble radio operations in Canada… but it was busting with potential!
Within 12 months of operation, the station moved across the hallway of the office building to a twelve-hundred square foot office with its’ own sound-proof studio!
God continued to bless the station, and we hired our first employee! During that year of 1998, the station ran on the backs of 30 volunteers with a heart for God and a passion for Christian radio. We even had 4 volunteer receptionists.
On September 23, 1999, CJTK became the first Christian station to be granted a power increase, and go from low-power status, to a full power class “A” station broadcasting at just over 1,000 watts.
In January of 2000, we purchased our first building. For 3 very busy months, Justin Legault led a team of volunteers in a $100,000 renovation project of the new “northern headquarters” of the ministry.
A rapid season of growth continued, as CJTK expanded its’ ministry to cover North Bay as well. On July 7, 2000, the CRTC made CJTK Canada’s first Christian radio “network”. Bringing Christian radio to the Gateway city was only accomplished because of the incredible support of the local North Bay Pastors and churches.
Realizing that there were a great deal of Christian businesses and special church events that needed to be properly advertised, CJTK applied for a “commercial license”. On November 22, 2001, the CRTC awarded CJTK a commercial license – making it the only Christian radio station in the country to be given permission to change from a non-commercial station to that of commercial status. We now had the freedom to run professionally produced spots on the air.
Another turning point in the ministry came in 2001 as CJTK became the first and only radio ministry in Canada to develop a “Prayer Ministry Centre”. A team of prayer warriors who took turns at the station answering calls from people who needed prayer.
Over the next several years, we worked on growing our budget to handle the new staff we would need to hire to really build an effective radio ministry.
By the year 2003, we began to move several people from a volunteer status to a “paid employee” status. This would help bring some stability and security to the ministry that started with such humble beginnings.
Our North Bay station continued to grow as well, and on May 16, 2005 we received a license from the CRTC to increase the power in North Bay – and build an independent studio so that we could begin to develop some great local programming.
The growth of the station, and bringing the great news of Jesus to people that had never experienced Christian radio before propelled us to build a station on Manitoulin Island. On October 13, 2005, the CRTC gave us our third license – and we built a station in Little Current.
By the time summer of 2006 rolled around, CJTK had 3 full power Class “A” stations on the air, 2 fully equipped studios, and an incredible Internet ministry. This in addition to 11 people on staff, and a host of great volunteers.
It was also time to increase the power at the home base of Sudbury, so we applied for a Class “B” station. This would help us reach all of the newly amalgamated city, and bring us to parts of the area that could not pick us up.
The year 2007 brought CJTK to its 10th anniversary!
The first thing we did to celebrate what God had done was to worship Him. Next, we got busy and built Canada’s first Digital broadcast studio! A completely new studio with the latest digital equipment was built.
On February 19, 2007, the CRTC granted CJTK a license to increase its power to almost 10,000 watts! During the Sharathon of 2007, God’s people gave enough money to cover the increase in power, and we built a brand new broadcast facility.
In May, 2007 we met with the Pastors of Elliot Lake to begin the process of building the new Elliot Lake Christian Radio station – an affiliate of CJTK – and station #4 in the Northern Ontario Network.
August 2007 brought the ministry to a tremendous milestone with the building of our brand new North Bay studio at 1720 Algonquin Road. This location is the busiest intersection in North Bay – and is at the corner of Highway 17 and Highway 11… the corner of the “Gateway to The North”.
2008 was a year of change. Our ministry centre experienced great growth, and it was decided it was time to plan on expansion. Out team set out on a mission to find a new home for the ministry of CJTK. It was during this year that we logged our 10,000th caller to our prayer ministry centre! What great things our God has done!
We capped off 2008 with a great celebration when God delivered our 4th radio station license to us – and we went on the air in Elliot Lake.
KFM now had 4 stations with 3 fully equipped studios – the only network of its kind in all of Canada! 2009 was one of the greatest in our history. CJTK was re-branded and became known everywhere as “KFM”. Being known as “K95” in Sudbury, “K103” in North Bay, “K102” in Elliot Lake and so on was becoming confusing as we had the appearance of multiple brands. We needed to come up with a name that would be common across all of the radio stations in northern Ontario… so after a consultation process “KFM” became our new trademark. On New Year’s Eve, we took possession of a new broadcasting centre in Sudbury for KFM. It was the strongest financial year in our history.
2010 began with the renovations of the new KFM broadcasting centre at 2150 Lasalle Blvd. It took 4 months to complete the renovations to the new centre which not only provided all the space we wanted for growth to the ministry, but also space to host a new Christian bookstore in our new strip mall. As KFM and most ministries learned, 2010 would be a financially challenging year, but KFM’s financial supporters continued to be faithful and kept this ministry alive and well.
In the early part of 2011, major changes began to happen in KFM North Bay. After years of work by volunteers and part-time staff, KFM has now added its first full time station manager and morning host. Dean Belanger, former morning man for the North Bay’s country station, became our first full time station manager in North Bay, and under his leadership, the station quickly grew. Later in 2011, we added our second North Bay employee… Lana Belanger who became our marketing and promotions director. Together, this dynamic duo have grown the ministry into a powerhouse for the Kingdom!
As 2011 wrapped up, KFM experienced another banner year. More and more people from across the North have partnered with KFM realizing the amazing results in impacting lives that God is using this ministry for. Renovations at the Sudbury location continue as the ministry centre takes shape.
We brought in 2012 with a major development in Canada’s only radio prayer ministry centre. The team not only prays for people around the clock – but also has opened their doors for one on one ministry to people who come to the ministry centre on Mondays. In the early part of 2012, the prayer ministry centre answered its 40,000th phone call! Imagine, over the last 10 years we have had the honour of praying with over 40,000 people!
In the fall of 2012, we joyfully threw the switch for Station #5 in the KFM radio network, and welcomed Mattawa to the KFM family of stations! Our listeners can now drive for 4 hours from east to west across Northern Ontario and tune in to one of our five stations.
In 2013, God continued to bless the radio ministry, and the mortgage was “paid in full” on the 1.7 million dollar facility. Praise the Lord!
In 2014, KFM established a new prayer ministry centre at it’s North Bay location.
In 2014, KFM’s Prayer Ministry Team reached a huge milestone in Christian Radio ministry history, as it answered the 50,000th phone call for prayer! Also in 2014, KFM built a complete television studio, and broadcasts a weekly live television show on local cable TV. It also broadcasts live television around the world on the Internet!
In 2015, KFM embarked on a huge project to build a new North Bay broadcasting facility. Not only did we build an entire new studio, foyer, and offices, but we also built a new prayer ministry room! This took 4 months to do, and we could not have done it without a great army of local volunteers along with some very special business partners that made it all happen. But the best part of this new ministry centre – is that we built the entire operation in the North Gate Mall! Thousands of people visit the Mall everyday, and we have the joy of sharing Jesus with them.
Normally, that would have been enough building for one year… but the God we serve opened up a door for us to build KFM 105.5 Timmins Christian Radio. This incredible opportunity to reach out to the entire Timmins area was so very exciting. God put together a local management group under the leadership of Tony Linton along with his assistant Cal Vezina. Together, they ran with the vision to bring the gospel to the airwaves of the North. We are now broadcasting from the heart of downtown Timmins, and have already seen the hand of Lord move on this wonderful city.
To cap off 2015, the Lord had KFM help spearhead the development of the CCRA (Canadian Christian Radio Association) the first of its type in Canada. It was the first time that any group of Christian stations ever worked together – and we truly saw the hand of the Lord bless this group of stations from across the country who now have a place to gather and represent the industry to government.
2016 arrived with a great outpouring of support from Timmins which far exceeded our expectations. The church and business leaders told us they wanted a local studio, so in May of 2016, the Lord had us build KFM’s 4th studio! Timmins hosted it’s first LIVE morning show with both Tony and our new radio personality “Our Pal Cal” along with general manager Curtis Belcher.
In the summer of 2016, a new and exciting era of KFM began to unfold. It all started with the wonderful duo of Bill & Brenda from Sault Ste. Marie visiting Sudbury. They ignited a passion for KFM to expand west to the Sault. Just weeks after the decision to expand to the Sault, doors began opening in other places. Our great Timmins team of Tony & Cal opened the door for Iroqouis Falls, Pastor Curtis Gudrie helped shape an application for Sundridge, and The Spring Bay Pentecostal church opened the door for radio in their area! But rather than this being simply the next few stations – it actually was the catalyst to open the door for KFM to apply to the CRTC for 6 new stations before the end of the year!
During KFM’s fall Sharathon of 2016, KFM applied for stations in Sault Ste. Marie, Sundridge, New Liskeard, Kirkland Lake, Spring Bay, and Iroqouis Falls.
Applying for 6 new stations at once certainly got the attention of the enemy, and there were a few battles to be fought… but God gave the victory – and KFM was awarded with 6 new licenses in May of 2017.
Work quickly began on several fronts, as building so many stations at once is something that no one has ever done. But with God’s help, all things were possible. The Sault team were first to raise the money for their new transmitter, and quickly went to work building their brand new studio. KFM 106.5 celebrated their grand opening with 75 Pastors, church representatives and business people gathered at the Delta Hotel. The mayor cut the official ribbon!
God has put together the master plan of reaching into the highways and byways of Northern Ontario – and Christian radio has become a great part of it.
Truly the presence of the Lord rests on this ministry, as we prayerfully prepare for what God has next!