|Broadcast area||Omaha, Nebraska|
|Translator(s)||104.9 K285ET (Kiron, IA)|
|First air date||1966|
|Callsign meaning||K Grace Bible Institute (original owners)|
|Owner||University of Northwestern - St. Paul|
KGBI-FM (100.7 FM) is a radio station broadcasting a Contemporary Christian format. Licensed to Omaha, Nebraska, United States, the station serves the Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska area. The station is owned and operated by the University of Northwestern - St. Paul. KGBI's studios are located on Burt Street (near North 120th Street and Dodge Road) in West Omaha, while its transmitter is located at the Omaha master antenna farm at North 72nd Street and Crown Point.
Grace Bible Institute began operation in 1943 in Omaha, Nebraska as an extension of Oklahoma Bible Academy in Meno, Oklahoma. Both institutions were affiliated with the General Mennonite Conference, and the addition of an Omaha school was intended to give a boost to enrollment by being based in a larger city with more employment opportunities for its students.
One of the outreaches of Grace that began during the early 1950s was a weekly radio program. The school had been offered free air time on KOIL radio in Omaha, and on February 3, 1952, "Grace Notes" began to air. The half-hour weekly program was prepared by students with the help of the Grace music department. In 1953 this program moved to KFAB, a 50,000 watt clear-channel station with a much larger coverage area. Additionally, the program was carried on stations in other states, where there were alumni who were willing to help underwrite the costs of broadcasting.
During the 1960s, Grace's president was Waldo Harder. With the support of students and the faculty, he began to campaign for an FM radio station that would be operated by Grace Bible Institute, to reach Omaha and the surrounding area with Bible teaching and inspirational music. Between 1963 and 1965, preparations were made to make the station possible, including the necessary FCC license and the city of Omaha for permits. Ward Childerston, a 1954 Grace alumnus, was hired as station manager. Built entirely with donations, KGBI-FM began broadcasting on May 17, 1966 from a station and antenna based on the Grace campus. It broadcast with a power of 30,000 watts, and the original broadcast day ran only from 3 pm to 10 pm. By October 1, 1966, the schedule had expanded to seventeen hours daily, and by January 1, 1969 the daily broadcast schedule ran from 6 am to midnight.
The original on-campus tower was 165 feet (50 m) in height. And, Ward Childerston reported that it was a 250W station, and that men were hearing the station through their electric razors. In 1973 KGBI-FM moved its tower to a new site fifteen miles (24 km) southwest of Omaha. The new 499-foot (152 m) tower allowed the station to broadcast a 100,000 watt signal in full stereo.
As much as the taller tower had allowed KGBI-FM to extend its coverage area, by the late 1980s it was showing its age. After sixteen years of use and weather-related damage (it was struck by lightning more than once), a new tower was needed. This change was made more necessary by a new FCC mandate, which had then made it a requirement that all class C stations broadcast from at least a 1,200-foot (370 m) tower, or risk being reclassified and potentially lose access to their current coverage area. The new 1,200-foot (370 m) tower was brought into service on June 1, 1990, and expanded the coverage area to as far as 120 miles (190 km) away. The broadcast was also expanded by an hour, to run from 6 am to 1 am daily.
Grace Bible Institute itself continued to grow and expand. In 1976, the name was changed to Grace College of the Bible, to reflect its full status as a four-year institution of higher learning. The radio station also began a further expansion at this time. In May, 1976, the Board of Directors approved purchase of radio station KROA-FM in Doniphan, Nebraska (between Grand Island and Hastings. With a 100,000 watt signal, KROA reached much of central Nebraska. The transfer of operations took effect in 1977, and much of the programming of KGBI-FM in Omaha was mirrored on KROA-FM.
By January 1979, it became possible to expand the programming of KGBI-FM to a full 24-hours-per-day.
On March 31, 2014 KGBI-FM rebranded as "100.7 The Fish".
Change of ownership
As a non-profit outreach of Grace University, KGBI-FM supported itself with an annual on air fund raiser they referred to as a "share-a-thon". This continued to annually more than meet the financial needs of the station. By late 2004, however, an opportunity arose for Grace to sell KGBI-FM to Salem Communications, which would make available to the University a significant amount of funding for other purposes. In January 2005 the transfer of ownership took effect, and the station began broadcasting Salem's "FISH" format of Contemporary Christian music, with none of the former teaching programs that played on the station.
To balance this, in January 2005, Salem also purchased KCRO 660 am, another Christian broadcasting station in Omaha. KCRO, privately owned and commercial, rather than non-profit, had also programmed a mix of music and teaching programs, but had focused more heavily on the teaching programs, and also leaned heavily towards Pentecostal or charismatic preachers. With the ownership of two stations in the Omaha area, Salem moved many of the most popular teaching programs from the old KGBI-FM format to KCRO, and eliminated any remaining music programming. This change mirrored the direction of radio in general during the last decade of the twentieth century, with music playing predominately on stereo FM stations, and talk-type of programming playing on AM stations. KCRO focused on talk programming, and KGBI-FM focused on music.
At the time of the sale of KGBI-FM, the Grand Island operation of KROA-FM transferred ownership to a new organization, Mission Nebraska, which currently links to translator stations that cover much of the state.
The original programming of KGBI-FM included inspirational music and programming. In the mid-1970s, typical programs included "Haven Of Rest," "Back to the Bible," and "NightSounds with Bill Pearce." Over the next twenty years, as Contemporary Christian music increased in popularity, KGBI gradually changed its format to include more CCM, and less of the older style of music it had played for many years.
By the 1990s, KGBI-FM played a combination of Christian music and teaching programs such as the venerable "Back to the Bible," "Focus on the Family," and "Insight For Living with Chuck Swindoll," until Salem purchased KGBI-FM, moving most of the teaching to KCRO 660 AM, and focusing KGBI-FM on music.
Radio air personality Matt Rings served weekday evenings from 1987 to 1989, and helped the transition from vinyl albums to CD music format during this time.
Duties for DJ's at KGBI were reading news, weather, and introducing songs and on-air teaching. But, evening duties also required setting up the reel-to-reel tapes and TRS-80 computer for the fully automated programming overnight until morning. Matt was the first KGBI "DJ" to play U2 at the station, on his final evening as his last song choice with the track "October" in 1989. Typically DJ's were limited in song choices, with most Christian albums at the station library having individual songs "nixed" (or off-limits) by the station program director from being played on-air.
- "KGBI-FM Facility Record". United States Federal Communications Commission, audio division.
- Kuhlmann, Paul (1980). The Story Of Grace. Omaha, Nebraska: Grace College Of The Bible, Inc. p. 122.
- Berry, Harold J. (1992). Committed To The Vision: 50 Years By The Grace Of God. Omaha, Nebraska: Grace College Of The Bible, Inc. pp. 58, 62, 82.
- Kuhlmann, Paul (1980). The Story Of Grace. pp. 150–151.
- Kuhlmann, Paul (1980). The Story Of Grace. p. 166.
- Kuhlmann, Paul (1980). The Story Of Grace. Omaha, Nebraska: Grace College Of The Bible, Inc. pp. 166–167.
- Berry, Harold J. (1992). Committed To The Vision: 50 Years By The Grace Of God. Omaha, Nebraska: Grace College Of The Bible, Inc. p. 71.
- KGBI Omaha Gets Hooked to a Fish