Plans to launch a nationwide satellite network of contemporary Christian radio stations are under way at Interstate Broadcasting Systems in Orange, owner of Orange-based KYMS and two other radio stations.
Officials at Interstate, a 5-year-old company, hope to start the network by spring or early summer, KYMS-FM (106.3) program director Gem O'Brien said.
KYMS is considered a pioneer in contemporary Christian programming, a music format featuring contemporary pop-and rock-flavored Christian music, performed by such artists as Amy Grant, Donna Summer and the rock group U2.
The new Interstate network will tap KYMS programming and relay it by satellite to affiliate stations, requiring some adjustments in the kind of music the station plays now, O'Brien said.
KYMS is targeted at a predominantly white Orange County audience, so the play list will undergo some changes in that the station will add more black artists as the network expands into urban markets.
"We'll need to add some of the black influences we haven't had," O'Brien said. "On the other hand, it'll mean the softening of some of the local hard-rock bands. We've played some bands that have been real local but not known nationwide, and now we'll have to be a little more selective. The music will have to reflect a nationwide audience."
Interstate has arranged for a satellite to carry its signal, but O'Brien said hook-up dates are still tentative. First to be plugged into the system will be two Interstate-owned stations: KRDS in Phoenix and KLTT in Denver.
Future affiliates will pay a monthly subscription rate, which Interstate has yet to establish, though O'Brien said typical rates for existing satellite networks can run about $1,500 per month.
Interstate is marketing its network idea to radio stations across the country. So far, about 1,200 stations have sent response cards to Interstate expressing interest in the network, O'Brien said.
Satellite networks have found success in such secular radio formats as country, adult contemporary and jazz. There also are networks featuring Christian talk formats, but none featuring a KYMS-style contemporary Christian music format.