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 then 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 – and a new ministry was born. We thought that this ministry would be a part of what the bible calls the “end time harvest”. So in 1994 we created, “Harvest Ministries”.
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. 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 (Ottawa went on the air just a few months before us). 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 bursting 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 September 13, 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 and station #2 KFM 103.5 signed on the air.
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. Our 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 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 new Sudbury location continued as the ministry centre took 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 our new radio personality’s “Our Pal Cal & Our Crony Tonty” 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 Iroquois 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 all at once!
During KFM’s fall Sharathon of 2016, KFM applied for stations in Sault Ste. Marie, Sundridge, New Liskeard, Kapuskasing, Spring Bay, and Iroquois Falls.
Applying for 6 new stations at once certainly got the attention of the enemy, and there were a few major battles to be fought. KFM endured two of the most intense battles ever in our history.
During this battle, it was revealed that one of the biggest broadcasters in Canada was interested in a “hostile” takeover. But once again, 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 (station #7 for those who are counting) went on the air in October 2017 and celebrated their grand opening with 75 Pastors, church representatives and business people gathered at the Delta Hotel. The mayor cut the official ribbon, and our beautiful studio on Northern Avenue was put into operation.
The team in Sundridge were also working hard getting their tower and transmission system in place, and by November of 2017 the final pieces were put in place for Sundridge Christian Radio and station #8 signed on-the-air!
Once again, history was made. It took KFM 3 years to go from one station to two stations, and 10 years to go to 3 stations. In 2017, we built 2 stations in just 1 year, and installed towers in 2 other communities (Spring Bay and Iroquois Falls) in preparation of two more stations.
2018 began with a flurry of activity. Our Timmins team with Tony & Cal went into action getting things ready setting up station #9 in Iroquois Falls, while our team also were installing the equipment at our new tower site at station #10 in Spring Bay.
Our Sault team put together our first ever “KFM Gala” event and in April we gathered with nearly 300 people for our first ever comedy night fundraiser. Timmins also put on their largest open house event.
The summer of 2018 saw us move our Timmins operation from a tower that was being torn down to a brand new hill top site with the help of a huge donation from a local mining company.
We also has the great thrill of building a new station in Englehart. This was a sweet moment, as there was a man who had become a monthly partner with us 10 years earlier – in hopes that we would one day come to his area!
It took us a little while to get Englehart on the air – but in summer of 2019 (after a technical amendment for the size of our antenna) we threw the switch and station #11 went on the air!
Also in that year, our team at KFM made a huge decision in the way it operates and in the way it conducts Sharathons. For 20 years we had open houses, live music, and food for the hundreds of guests who would visit. But we shifted from this to a Sharathon model with no guests – and no open house – and no more food and festivities. Many thought this was a very strange decision… but there was something on the horizon God was preparing us for.
In 2020, as we made our way to Kapuskasing for the grand opening of station #12. We woke up that morning to a bitter snow storm that closed the local schools. That was also the morning that the government announced it was starting to take action against a new pandemic in our country… Covid 19! We gathered in a local A&W and celebrated with some pretty hearty folks the opening of our new Kapuskasing station!
As we went into Sharathon 2020 (our first pandemic Sharathon) God had already prepared us for a Sharathon with no huge gatherings, no food, and no special music. Just our normal programming with a little talk between songs about the stations financial needs. It was very strange – but the Lord had prepared us.
The next year was a difficult one for so many as we all endured this covid pandemic. We were faced with the challenge of several of our staff having to work from home. Thankfully, the Lord had prepared us for this by having us install a virtual console at our Sudbury location. This new technology would enable our team to be on the air from home – and sound like they are in the studio!
After 4 years of hard work, in the summer of 2021 we made our way to New Liskeard and installed the new transmitter and other gear. We went through a 3-week testing period, and rejoiced together as station #13 finally went On The Air!
KFM is now able to reach about ½ million people. With 13 radio stations on the air, we know that over 10,000 people tune in every day! It’s amazing to think that KFM reaches more people in 1 day than any church event in the history of Northern Ontario.
During the global covid pandemic, KFM began to transform from a ministry with listeners and partners… to a radio “family”. With more people looking for hope than ever before, our partners realized that this is so much more than just “supporting” a radio ministry… it’s the faithful coming together just like a family would in times of trouble in order to throw a lifeline to the harmed, the hurting, and the hopeless.
We all get together each day listening to the radio, communicating on social media, encouraging each other, and hopefully experiencing a little joy along the way.
It’s hard to believe that 2022 is our 25th year on the air. This year our ministry centre celebrated its 75 thousandth phone call. Imagine, KFM has prayed for 75,000 people! We are so grateful for our KFM “family” for making all this possible. All the towers, the transmitters, and the testimonies… it’s all because people like you have become a part of our family – and share positive and encouraging programming with people all over the north.
The summer of 2022 was the busiest ever for KFM. We kicked things off with an exciting Sharathon, followed by our first ever Northern Ontario Tour!
Dean, John, and Andrew (the Breakfast Club) along with Our Buddy Bill jumped into the “Big Brown Bus” (Bill & Brenda’s Motor Home) and kicked off the tour in Sundridge. An amazing crowd showed up at the water front to join us in celebrating KFM’s 25th year on the air! We got to meet so many wonderful people and give away some fun prizes. We continued from there onto Mattawa and North Bay. The next day we began by broadcasting LIVE from the Motorhome as we travelled up highway 11 to New Liskeard. We discovered halfway up that the highway was closed due to a car-jacking! The highway was closed in BOTH directions for several hours as the police laid down 5 different spike belts! So how would we get through? Well, the bible says that the “Lord will make a way when there seems to be no way”.
Guess what… the Lord sent a police car up to visit us – who gave us a PRIVATE ESCORT through the middle of the road closure so we could get through to New Liskeard!
After that, we were off to Engleheart & Iroquois Falls. Following that, we visited Timmins and Kapuskasing. The longest (and most scenic) drive came next as we drove from Kapuskasing over to Wawa and down along Lake Superior. We were truly overwhelmed at Gods creation.
Have you ever worked on a project where you had to build or create something? When you were done, you sat down and admired your work? I can’t help but imagine how God created the great Lakes, the mountains, the scenic shores and beautiful blue waters of Northern Ontario – and how when He was done He sat down on the shore, and just sat there admiring His work. (the bible does say that after He created something that “he saw that it was good”!)
Okay… time to leave the shores of Lake Superior – and continue the drive down to Sault Ste. Marie where we literally pitched our tent beside the Delta Hotel on the Saint Mary’s River.
Next, we were off to Elliot Lake, where we saw another miracle. God brought a women to where we were set up, who needed a touch from Him – and after some wonderful ministry – she gave her heart to Jesus!
Continuing the waterside experience – next we were off to downtown Little Current on the shores of Manitoulin Island where we once again set up by the dock on the bay!
And finally the last stop on our Summer 2022 tour – we landed in Sudbury.
Right after this monumental trip filled with amazing experiences and meeting the KFM family all over the North… lightning season came and attacked 3 of our tower sites knocking us off the air!
Right as we were celebrating 25 years of Christian Radio in Sudbury… Bam! Our transmitter took a hit and we went off the air for 6 days! It was the first time in history our Sudbury station was off the air for more than a few hours.
On the 7th day, we were able to piece together a small temporary transmitter to at least get Sudbury back on the air with a low power signal. We then set off to replace the antennas in Kapuskasing and Spring Bay – the other 2 places that took a hit.
The antenna purchases drained what was left in our equipment budget, and we were staring at the biggest purchase in our history in order to replace the huge Sudbury Transmitter!
We found ourselves in a very delicate situation, we were only days away from our Sharathon. This event helps us raise the budget for the next 6 months… and we need every penny! BUT… we also needed a new transmitter for Sudbury. How on earth can we do both of these at the same time?
Despite the setbacks and low power coverage, we went into our 25th anniversary Sharathon believing and trusting the Lord to raise the budget – AND – raise the money for a new transmitter for Sudbury.
Under normal circumstances, this would seem like climbing Mount Everest! But after 25 years of seeing God do extraordinary and amazing things, we had a quiet confidence that somehow and someway, He would see this through and deliver an absolute miracle.
The call came in, and we were filled with excitement and gratefulness as every need that the network had was met. Once again, He proved Himself (not that He needs to) to be the God of More Than Enough!
It’s a pretty big job to replace a transmitter that is the size of a fridge… but we got it ordered, and it will be installed in January.
We finished off 2022 by returning to the centre of Sudbury at Science North, and during the final scene of the Living Nativity presentation put on by All Nations Church – we lit up the sky with fireworks to celebrate the birth of Jesus!
We truly can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store for 2023!