What started as a two-week engagement for local radio turned into something much more for Rochet Callender.
Three years later, Callender sees her role as program director at Southern Gospel radio stations KPAE-FM 91.5 and WPAE-FM 89.7 as a calling.
“It’s absolutely a ministry,” said Callender, a member of Milldale Baptist Church, which shares a campus with the Sound Radio studio at 11950 Milldale Road in Zachary. “If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t be there. It’s a lot of work and it’s very rewarding. But it’s something you really have to pray for and not make quick decisions because that you want it to be in line with what the Lord wants to happen.”
Callender, 60, said the stations are comprised mostly of volunteers who merge their talents with the sole purpose of reaching souls for Christ and carrying on Jesus’ command to “feed my sheep” as found in John 21. :16.
“I think this is a very important moment,” she said. “We are seeing greater moral decline than ever before. Obviously we have to make a change, and that change would happen with Jesus Christ. That’s what we’re promoting, that’s salvation through Jesus Christ.”
The ability to reach people for Christ far exceeds the varied challenges that come with the radio industry, Callender said.
“It’s overwhelming at times, but it’s a huge blessing,” she said.
A particular challenge arose last year with transmitter problems at the KPAE Tower in Erwinville and the WPAE Tower in Centerville, Mississippi. The towers were only able to run about 50%, Callender said.
“They weren’t completely off, but they were at a lower power,” she said. “Just the idea that people can’t hear – especially those who may not be used to the internet (streaming service). … It’s just not acceptable.”
The situation lasted nearly a year with the towers finally replaced and back at full power just before Easter. The Erwinville tower broadcasts at 10,000 watts and stands 164 feet tall. The 489-foot WPAE tower broadcasts at 84,000 watts. Callendar said stations can reach Gonzales, Hammond, Opelousas and as far as Natchez, Mississippi.
Sound Radio was founded on September 30, 1985, under the leadership of Williard and Arlene Kennedy to present “educational programs that uphold the sound doctrines of Scripture and play the pure sound of Christian music”. It started with the KPAE tower in Erwinville. WPAE Tower was added to Centerville in 1996.
Robert Hall, 78, was a longtime listener before joining the station last year to help with sales, promotions and communications.
“I feel like it’s a bit of a call for me,” said Hall, a member of Live Oak Methodist Church in Denham Springs. “It’s about what we can do to promote Christianity. I want the gospel to spread. When I say gospel, I mean the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
Sound Radio listeners can expect preaching and teaching from local pastors and local programming as well as fine Southern Gospel music. Local ministers include Dennis Terry of Milldale Baptist and Mark Crosby of Live Oak Methodist. The station also airs “Washington Watch” by Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, ordained minister and former Louisiana state representative. Some prominent national ministers include Tony Evans, Charles Stanley and David Jeremiah.
Callender said the station is looking to add more local ministers to the lineup.
In taking on the administrative role at the station, Callender has relied on the youthful help of her son Carlton, who is the senior technician and assistant program director.
Carlton Callender, who has a degree in sound engineering, said he had no intention of getting into radio. He has been in church music ministry for 10 years and embraces the larger opportunity to help advance the gospel.
“I learned a lot of things that I didn’t think I learned anywhere else. I’m glad I came,” the 24-year-old, a member of Live Oak Baptist Church, told Watson.
Sound Radio has scheduled free appreciation concerts at 7 p.m. Sept. 16 at Grove Baptist Church, 21949 La. 444 Bayou Barbary, Livingston; and 7 p.m. Nov. 12 at New Heights Baptist Church, 5140 Miss. 98 West, in Summit, Mississippi.
For the full Sound Radio programming schedule or other information, call (225) 681-5906, visit www.soundradio.live or email [email protected]