‘It’s all about the message (of Jesus Christ), and the message is in the music,’ nothing else matters much on this radio station, says Steve Koranda.
The station is called Heaven 97.7 and while it plays music practically all day, it’s not necessarily there to entertain its audience. As a mater of fact, 97.7 has a focused, two-tiered reason for being – to glorify God and to encourage His people- that’s it.
‘That’s the whole premise of the radio station; that’s all we’re about. We’re not about numbers, we’re not about money. We’re not about any of those things,’ says Steve, host of the station’s morning show.
There are no stars at 97.7, he said.
‘We try to stay out of the way and let Jesus do what He wants.’
The station is primarily a music station that keeps its teaching segments relatively short.
From Monday to Friday, a licensed Christian counsellor, April Lewis from Healing Waters, comes on at 9am, for a few minutes, and that says Steve, has become quite a popular feature.
People tune their dials to 97.7 because the station promotes positivity and provides an uplifting and safe environment.
Particularly after Hurricane Ivan hit Grand Cayman in September people in all the stress and in all the strain they’ve been under, need something solid to hold on to, he said. For this reason, ‘(the station’s message) that Jesus is real, is alive and is in control, is a very positive source of comfort and strength and hope for people.’
In Steve’s opinion, a lot of people in Grand Cayman need hope now. ‘They need something to hang on to because everything got blown away or washed away.’
Christians are the main target audience of the radio station, especially since they are the ones who call in to Steve’s morning show with requests and words of encouragement.
‘And not just my show,’ says Steve, ‘but on all the others, we’re blessed to have so many great volunteers, who come in and do special things for us. Many week nights, and most of the weekends we have volunteers doing wonderful things here and they really give a nice local flavour to the radio station.’
Steve is careful to point out that although the station targets the Christian community in Grand Cayman, evangelism is a natural outcome of what is done there.
God at work
‘It’s actually a shock to people, but (evangelism) happens all on its own. When God’s at work, doing what He wants to do, the result is so attractive that people come to it. They’ll stand on the outside and look for a while until they finally say ‘I want that,’ then they’ll talk to their pastor or their priest or their friend next door who they know is a believer.’
Ninety-seven Point Seven is a great evangelism tool, Steve said. But, he insists, the biggest tool is the people of God, through whom He’s doing what He wants; ‘when God’s at work it’s a very attractive thing and it naturally draws people in.’
The nation’s only Christian radio station was off the air for only three and a half days after Ivan came and left, but it seemed that even 84 hours was too long for some people.
‘Immediately we hit the air, operating at greatly reduced power. We started getting all kinds of telephone calls from people saying thank you; I need this, I really need this.’
In a sense the station flaunts the relationship it sees itself as having with God. It calls itself Heaven 97.
‘One of the things that is true about God is that He never takes something away from you without giving you something better,’ Steve said. ‘We lost everything in the storm. The radio station was under water. I came in waist-deep water and saw our control board and all that stuff under water and I thought ‘oh Lord how are we ever going to get this thing (are we going to get it) back’?’
But the good news is the Board of Directors determined to not only have Heaven 97 better than it was prior to the storm, but to form another station.
The new station is to be called Gospel 88.7.
Heaven 97 covers all of Grand Cayman with the transmitters which are located here, but transmitters on Cayman Brac allow for broadcast to that island and to Little Cayman.
Music played on the Morning Show is a microcosm of music played throughout the day. There is a mix of Traditional Christian, Contemporary Christian, Gospel Reggae and Urban Gospel.
‘We want to present a quality product that people can relate to,’ he said.
‘That quality product always has the message of Jesus and the message of God’s love, mercy and grace.’