United Christian Broadcasters

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United Christian Broadcasters
Industry Broadcasting
Founded Christchurch, New Zealand (1960s (1960s))
Headquarters Auckland, New Zealand
Key people Hal Short (President)
Website International

United Christian Broadcasters (UCB) is an international Christian broadcasting and media group. Through affiliates in twenty five countries, it operates radio and television stations and publishes and broadcasts Bob Gass's free daily devotionals The Word for You Today and word4u2day. It was founded by Richard Berry in the early 1960s in Christchurch, New Zealand and UCB International is headquartered in Auckland.[1] In July 2010, UCB TV partnered with the mobile TV and video on demand network Yamgo to launch the world's first ever live Christian mobile TV channel.[2] UCB TV is a product of UCB in the United Kingdom.


The group was started in New Zealand by Richard Berry. In the early 1960s, the Christchurch evangelical was inspired by Ecuadorian Christian short-wave radio station HCJB, and by the Biblical passages of Matthew 7:7, Matthew 19:26 and John 14:12, to develop a plan for Christian broadcasting in New Zealand. Private radio was neither a reality nor a possibility at the time, and many people were sceptical of his plan. However, with a friend from the Salvation Army Berry started a studio in the garage of his Banbury Street home. This studio was initially called Banbury Recordings Incorporated and later became Gospel Radio Fellowship; it was a small evangelical ministry which believed in the value of prayer and recorded preaching.

In the mid-1960s the group started preparing to begin broadcasting in New Zealand. Radio Hauraki had begun illegally broadcasting as a pirate station, and a government unable to enforce its regulations on the industry was forced to allow private broadcasting. Gospel Radio Fellowship used an old church building on Glenfield Crescent, Christchurch to set up new studios and a transmitter. The station failed to obtain a license in 1972 as Gospel Radio Fellowship, because the Broadcasting Authority believed there was not public interest in such a station, and that the station lacked professional staff and finance. The group changed their name to Radio Rhema and gained the endorsement of Pat Robertson, but still failed to obtain a license in 1974.

The station did obtain licenses for a one-day broadcast in Christchurch in November 1974, Petone in October 1975 and Christchurch for 10 days over Christmas in 1976. It had funding to employ Berry and twenty other staff by 1974. At a hearing for a full license in 1978, after the three broadcasts, it had 7,235 members and 48,433 other supporters, as well as endorsement from churches and community groups. The application was successful and Radio Rhema, since relaunched as New Zealand's Rhema, was officially launched by then Prime Minister Rob Muldoon in November 1976. Muldoon described the evangelical faith that inspired Rhema was "a faith that moves mountains". By 1980 Christchurch station obtained an 18-hours-per-day license and had thirty five full-time and ten part-time workers; by 1982 it had gained a license in Wellington and had property and six staff in Auckland.

In subsequent years the Rhema station group expanded throughout New Zealand, and the Rhema model was used to establish UCB affiliates in Australia, the United Kingdom, other Commonwealth countries, and beyond.

The Word for You Today[edit]

The Word For You Today is a free, daily devotional written by Bob Gass and distributed internationally by United Christian Broadcasters as a daily radio programme, as website content, as an email newsletter and as quarterly print editions. One million copies of the United Kingdom and Ireland print edition are distributed each quarter to hospitals, rest homes, care facilities and UCB supporters. Other regional editions are distributed to subscribers, churches and Christian organisations in other parts of the world.

Bob Gass has described the devotionals as "a kick start for cold mornings, when you don't feel like reading your Bible or find it a bit dry". He started writing The Word for Today devotional readings in 1992 as various inspirations he had received in forty years of being involved in Christian leadership and from the Biblical principles instilled in him by his mother. After positive response in the United States, he offered international rights to the devotionals to United Christian Broadcasters CEO Gareth Littler, with a successful first print run of 3500 copies in 1994 being distributed to UCB supporters in the United Kingdom.

Following requests and planning, a contemporary youth version, The Word 4U 2Day, was introduced in August 2003 in conjunction with Manchester Christian youth ministry The Message Trust. About 250,000 copies of the United Kingdom and Ireland print edition are distributed quarterly. The version is distributed by UCB youth stations as a radio programme and website content.[3]

UCB United Kingdom[edit]

Broadcast area United Kingdom
Frequency DAB, Sky Digital, Internet, Mobile
First air date Founded 1986
Format Talk
Christian Music
Owner United Christian Broadcasters ltd
Webcast UCB Radio Streams
Website UCB

UCB in the United Kingdom is a registered charity and the country's largest Christian media company.[4] It aims to broadcast quality Christian radio programming, provide practical and insightful Christian television, and act as a support ministry for Christians. In pursuit of this it operates broadcast networks, publishes The Word For Today and word4u2day, operates the prayer support call centre UCB Prayerline and provides accredited industry training.[5] The company is based in Stoke-on-Trent.

UCB got its initial broadcasts via Manx Radio in the Isle of Man, although this gave limited geographical reach and only during the unsociable hours of 10pm until 2am, it did allow the station to bypass some of the UK's broadcasting laws and commence transmission earlier in the company's lifetime than would have otherwise been possible.[6]

UCB Media broadcasts Christian radio nationally on DAB, Sky Digital and Virgin Media platforms, and internationally through internet streaming. Alternative music station UCB Extra, Bible reading station UCB Bible and local station UCB Ireland are all streamed online.

UCB UK[edit]

National network UCB UK is available on DAB, Sky 0125, Virgin 914, online and via free iPhone app as well as a web app. UCB UK is broadcast nationally across the UK through formats of entertainment, the latest Christian music, news and current affairs, as well as thought-provoking interviews and discussions. Presenters include Deanna Fletcher and Craig Wakeling (breakfast), Paul Hammond (mornings), Jess Cook (afternoons), Mike Rimmer (drive), Juls Martin (evenings), Catherine Hassall (weekends), Dudley Anderson (weekends). Programmes include UCB Unsigned, The Weekly Christian Music Chart with Steve Best, 20 the Countdown Magazine, Just Thinking with Ravi Zacharias, In Touch with Charles Stanley, Insight for Living with Chuck Swindoll, Different Perspective with Bernie Dymet, Precious Word of Truth with James McConnell, and Word For Today with Bob Gass.

UCB Inspirational[edit]

Christian teaching and easy listening music network, UCB Inspirational is available on DAB, Sky 0136 online and via free iPhone app. Presenters include Anne Henderson (breakfast), Ruth O'Reilly-Smith (afternoons), Craig Wakeling (drive), Trevor Kirk (evenings), David Piper (overnights), Jo Langley (weekends), Carl Finnan (weekends). Programmes include Foundations 21, Hymns of Faith, Deovox, Gospel Greats, Worship Without Words, Faith 4 Today, 66/40 with Chuck Missler, Unlocking the Bible, and Insight 4 Living.

UCB Gospel[edit]

Playing a selection of gospel music from the UK, US, Africa and the Caribbean, the UCB Gospel network is available on DAB, Sky 0135 online and via free iPhone app.

UCB Extra[edit]

Originally launched as 'UCB The Word' in 2003 'UCB Extra' was relaunched in 2013 as an alternative music station playing an upbeat and eclectic mix of Rock, Urban and electronic music from Christian bands and artists. The station also features specialist music shows such as 'Rock On' two hours of hard rock and metal and 'Beats' an hour of dance and electronica. UCB Extra is available online at www.ucb.co.uk/extra or on mobile devices via UCB and third party apps.

UCB TV[edit]

Christian television station UCB TV is available via the Eutelsat 28A satellite on Sky Digital channel 584 and online. UCB TV is the world's first ever live Christian mobile TV channel following its launch on the Yamgo mobile TV network on 6 July 2010. Programmes include Bayside TV, Hillsong TV, Edges with Mal Fletcher, Turning Point with David Jeremiah, Living Truth, Hope City TV, Way of the Master and Dreams for Living. Music programmes include the Gaither Gospel Series, UKCMC, Hillsong and Planetshakers.

UCB Media hosts a large and rapidly growing online community on Facebook,Twitter, YouTube and Vimeo. The word4u2day publication is also on Facebook and available as a daily podcast.

UCB Prayerline and Forces Prayerline[edit]

UCB provide a confidential telephone service called UCB Prayerline with trained Christian volunteers who pray for callers' issues over the telephone.[7] The service is supported by churches from across the United Kingdom, manned 7 days a week and receives around 100,000 calls per year.[8] A parallel service, the Forces Prayerline, was started in Germany in 2005 and extended to the UK on 6 Nov 2008 at St Clement Danes Church, London, on the occasion of the annual Armed Forces Day of Prayer. This service supports servicemen, servicewomen and their families at home and abroad.[9][10]

UCB New Zealand[edit]

New Zealand's Rhema
Southern Star
Life fm
Shine TV
Broadcast area New Zealand
First air date 1978, 1997, 1997, 2004
Format Rhema: talk radio
S Star: CCM
Life fm: Christian CHR
Shine: Christian TV
Class Terrestrial/Internet
Owner Rhema Broadcasting Group

UCB New Zealand, operating as Rhema Broadcasting Group, is New Zealand's largest Christian media organisation, broadcasting four radio networks and a television station, and publishing the quarterly The Word for You Today devotional publication, from the Rhema Broadcasting Centre on Upper Queen Street in the central Auckland suburb of Newton. UCB previously owned, but never utilised, a network of UHF stations now used by Prime Television New Zealand.

New Zealand's Rhema[edit]

The group's main network, New Zealand's Rhema, is an evangelical Christian talk and music radio network started in 1978. Its week-day line-up includes Aaron Ironside (breakfast), Peter Shaw (mornings), Diane Campbell (afternoons), Alan Lee (drive-time) and Rosemary Jane (nights). Pre-recorded daily preaching from Joyce Meyer, James Dobson, Jeff Lucas, Tak Bhana, Berni Dymet, Chuck Swindoll and Chuck Missler is broadcast daily. UCB correspondents Steve Johnson (United States), Ruth Price (Australia), Jeff Fountain (Europe) and James Totton (Asia) and commentators Paul Sanders, Sarah Field, Kris Baines, Steve Taylor and Nick Tuitasi appear on the network breakfast each week.

Rhema, which take its name from the Biblical word rhema, is the founding network of United Christian Broadcasters. The initial programme/station manager, John McNeil, laid the groundwork for what became the network's relaxed talk and music format, in which a limited number of teaching programmes are intermingled with music, news and interviews and donation requests are limited to an annual "Rhemathon" campaign drive. Anna Wilkinson was the first breakfast announcer, Bob McCroskrie hosted the breakfast programme between 1997 to 2006 before leaving to set up lobby group Family First New Zealand, and Tim Sisarich presented the morning programme before becoming Executive Director of Focus on the Family New Zealand.[11]

Southern Star[edit]

Southern Star plays classic contemporary Christian music and hymns. Southern Star programming is broadcast on stations in rural centres, and on AM Network stations when Parliament is not sitting. The Southern Star Breakfast (06:00 to 09:00) with Dudley Scantlebury includes teachings from Derek Prince at 06:45 and Max McLean at 07:10. Glen Stephenson (09:00–14:00), Rosemary Jane (14:00–19:00) and Ross Browne (19:00–24:00) round off the weekday line-up. Saturdays are hosted by Dudley Scantlebury, Rosemary Jane and Andrew Urquhart, while Sundays are hosted by Glen Stephenson, Andrew Urquhart and Ross Browne. Former announcers include Cathy Jenke (1997–2003), John Cordery (2003), Brian Ferguson (2000–2003), Rachel Thomas (2001–2003), James Totton (2004–2005) and Rob Holding (2004–2005).

The Word[edit]

The Word is a trial radio network that broadcasts a continuous pre-recorded, automated, uninterrupted programme of spoken Bible readings[12] on former Southern Star frequencies in Hamilton (567AM) and Invercargill (1026AM) after Southern Star moved to newly formed AM Network frequencies.[13] Since being set up in 2006, it has expanded to Dunedin on 1377 AM and Te Anau on 88.4 FM and 107.0 FM.[14]

Life fm[edit]

Life fm is a Christian contemporary hit radio network which sponsors the Parachute Music Festival. Life FM started 14:00 March 6, 1993 on 99.3 FM in Christchurch to the sound of U2 "In The Name of Love" as a station broadcasting a mix of Christian and secular music, but it closed 18:00 Friday 11 July 1997 after the frequency lease with More FM expired. It was restarted in Auckland, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty shortly after as a 100% Christian network and has since expanded to frequencies across the country. Listener contributions, mostly raised during an annual Life Support Drive, make up 80% of the network's budget. The Morning Wake-Up breakfast show is hosted by Clinton Randell & Bjorn Brickell; weekday announcers include Holly (daytime), Asher (afternoons) and Dan and George (nights); The Best of the MWU & Life FM Remix are broadcast on Saturdays; The River (worship music), The Forum (talkback) with George Penk (previously the Green Room with Frank Ritchie) and Underground (Christian hardcore) are broadcast commercial-free on Sundays.

Shine TV[edit]


Shine TV is a Christian television channel broadcast on Sky TV channel 111, Christchurch UHF 56, Nelson UHF 44, Telstra Clear Digital TV and Freeview Channel 25. It has produced and broadcast weekend newsmagazine Nzone Focus with Allan Lee since 2009; it produced and broadcast daily newscast Nzone Tonight with Rachel Thomas, Asher Bastion, Andrew Curtis, Brooke Dobson and Allan Lee in 2007 and 2008; and it produced and broadcast current affairs programme Nzone with Tim Sisarich and Bob McCroskrie from 2004 to 2007 before the presenters went on to set up Focus on the Family New Zealand and Family First New Zealand respectively.

UCB Australia[edit]

UCB Australia was featured in the Andrew Denton documentary film God on My Side, publishes The Word for Today and word4U2day, coordinates the PrayForMe prayer ministry and provides mailorder Christian resource service UCB Direct. However, the core operation of UCB Australia is the nationwide Vision Radio Network, previously called Vision FM. UCB's motto is "Connecting Faith to Life" and the radio network aims to make Christian Radio available for every Australian as a means to that end. As at the close of 2008, Vision operated on over 360 licences, including low powered services in metropolitan suburbs and rural towns. It also operated some higher powered services in some regional areas and in Western Melbourne on 1611 AM. By the end of 2010, Vision had expanded to over 460 relay stations, mainly LPON licences (low power open narrowcast) but also including Adelaide 1611 AM. Vision's talk and music programming is aimed at "unpacking" what it means to follow Jesus Christ in an understandable way.

Vision Radio Network[edit]

Vision began broadcasting from small studios in Springwood, Brisbane, Australia on 1 February 1999. A few years later they moved into larger premises in nearby Underwood to better provide a 24-hour 7-day broadcast to some 300+ relay stations across the nation, plus listeners on the Internet and via satellite. UCB Australia has been able to acquire around 500 high- and low-powered open narrowcast licenses and has quickly gone about the task of setting up a national network of relay stations across Australia, from the largest cities to regional centres and tiny isolated towns in the bush. Many small to medium sized country towns in Australia have benefited from the cost-effective approach of using low-powered FM transmitters. Although typically only one to ten watts, they usually give quite adequate residential coverage in small towns, depending on the antenna height above local terrain. The setup cost is very achievable for most communities and the ongoing cost is minimal due to low maintenance equipment with low power consumption – some even use solar power in remote areas.

In the twelve months following March 2001 a rapid expansion began, seeing the number of relay stations 'on-air' triple from around 30 to 90. Also in April 2001, UCB Australia introduced Australia's first nation-wide news service from a Christian perspective – UCB News. UCB News is heard across the Vision Radio Network, as well as being accessed by a growing number of community stations who don't have the resources to produce their own news content. During 2003 UCB had opportunity to secure its first high powered open narrowcast licences, which were soon put on air. The network quickly reached 150 relay stations by the end of 2003, and in the following year would see its first foray into AM radio sites in Shepparton, Bunbury and Kalgoorlie. Just prior to Christmas 2004 a further 17 High Powered licences were secured to be on air the following year. Vision's 200th relay station was powered up on Australia Day 2005 at the Central Australian town of Yulara – right next to Uluru (Ayers Rock). Yarrawonga in Victoria had the honour of station number 300 in late 2007 and a significant development occurred in late 2008 with the unexpected acquisition of a medium powered AM service in Melbourne (1611AM).

UCB Philippines[edit]

In Makati, Philippines, United Christian Broadcasters operates internet radio station The Edge Media in partnership with the Asian Seminary of Christian Ministries. The station is an advocate for a Christian worldview and is used as a training ground for students from 15 Asian nations to learn how to open low cost stations in their countries. It plays contemporary Christian music including pop, hip hop, alternative, praise and gospel songs. It plays music from a wide range of Christian artists of various nationalities, including local contemporary Christian artists which fit its format.

The Edge Radio[edit]

Branding Callsign Frequency Power (Watts) Location
The Edge Radio Philippines n/a Internet radio n/a Worldwide
103.1 The Edge Radio Strong South DWMZ 103.1 MHz 5,000 Watts Calendaria / Lucena
90.3 The Edge Radio Dumaguete DYJC 90.3 MHz 5,000 Watts Dumaguete
92.9 The Edge Radio Guihulgnan DY__ 92.9 MHz 5,000 Watts Guihulgnan City, Negros Oriental
97.3 JCFM The Edge Radio Trento DXJC 97.3 MHz 5,000 Watts Trento
104.3 The Edge Radio Davao DXMA 104.3 MHz 5,000 Watts Davao
101.5 The Edge Radio Kidapawan DX__ 101.5 MHz 5,000 Watts Kidapawan
92.7 The Edge Radio Sibugay DX__ 92.7 MHz 5,000 Watts Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay
94.1 The Edge Radio Vigan DWVN 94.1 MHz 5,000 Watts Vigan
91.7 The Edge Radio Tuguegarao DWCN 91.7 MHz 5,000 Watts Tuguegarao
103.1 The Edge Radio Naga DWKM-FM 100.7 MHz 5,000 Watts Naga City
98.8 The Edge Radio Tacloban DYXV 98.3 MHz 5,000 Watts Tacloban
97.5 The Edge Radio Butuan DXMK 97.5 MHz 5,000 Watts Butuan

UCB Canada[edit]

In Ontario, Canada, United Christian Broadcasters' Canadian affiliate operates 6 stations.

Branding Callsign Frequency Power (Watts) Location
UCB 102.3 Belleville CKJJ-FM 92.7 MHz 15,000 Watts Belleville, Ontario
UCB 103.5 Bancroft CKJJ-FM-4 103.5 MHz 250 Watts Bancroft, Ontario
UCB 100.5 Kingston CKJJ-FM-3 100.5 MHz 50 Watts Kingston, Ontario
UCB 99.9 Brockville CKJJ-FM-2 99.9 MHz 50 Watts Brockville, Ontario
UCB 90.7 Cobourg CHJJ-FM 90.7 MHz 250 Watts Cobourg, Ontario
UCB 89.3 Chatham CKGW-FM 89.3 MHz 15,000 Watts Chatham, Ontario


  1. ^ New Zealand's Rhema – History at www.rhema.co.nz. Accessed on 2 Dec 2010.
  2. ^ World’s First Christian Mobile TV Channel Available Globally As Yamgo Launch UCB at yamgo.com. Accessed on 2 Dec 2010.
  3. ^ The Word For Today & Bob Gass at ucb.co.uk. Accessed on 2 May 2009.]
  4. ^ Charity number 299128 at www.charitiesdirect.com. Accessed on 3 May 9.
  5. ^ Customer case study at www.computersoftware.com. Accessed on 2 May 9.
  6. ^ http://www.crossrhythms.co.uk/articles/music/UCB_Cross_Rhythms__A_marriage_made_in_heaven/40689/p1/
  7. ^ About Prayerline at www.ucb.co.uk. Accessed on 28 Jan 2011.
  8. ^ UCB Prayerline at www.carrickfergusbaptist.com. Accessed on 28 Jan 2011.
  9. ^ UCB to launch prayer line for Armed Forces at www.christiantoday.co.uk. Accessed on 28 Jan 2011.
  10. ^ Forces Prayerline Launch in UK at www.rafcom.co.uk. Accessed on 28 Jan 2011.
  11. ^ New Zealand's Rhema-History Part 2 at www.rhema.co.nz. Accessed on 2 Dec 2010.
  12. ^ RBG New Zealand – The Word. at www.rbg.co.nz. Accessed on 2 Dec 2010.
  13. ^ Invercargill and Hamilton at www.theradiovault.net.[dead link]
  14. ^ Bible Radio at www.bibleradio.co.nz. Accessed on 2 Dec 2010.[dead link]

External links[edit]