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Cross Rhythms radio began in May 1983 as a half hour programme on Plymouth Sound, an Independent Local Radio station (ILR commercial) in Devon. Chris Cole began the programme (then called ‘The Solid Rock of Jesus Christ’) with 25 albums among which, were:
Mark Williamson Band
The Station's Chief Engineer’s comment at the time was "great idea, like the music, problem is there won’t be enough albums."
The music at the time had come out of the Jesus Movement of the late ‘60’s and ‘70’s. As Chris says, "back in ’83 the radio programme was really promoting records that had in the main been produced in America, although there were the pioneers in the UK who I was also able to profile, like Bryn Haworth, Adrian Snell, Martyn Joseph and Barratt Band."
So what was Chris’ presenting style back then? "reading scripture between records" he says, "but that was to ensure that the church saw that Christian music and the radio show were linked to the Word of God and that it wasn’t just a fad. The contemporary nature and culturally relevant use of CCM was a shock to many in the church in the UK at the time. It was important that in endeavouring to reach the next generation we weren't rebelling against the old order."
It was a real act of God how Chris began The Solid Rock of Jesus Christ.
Bob Hussell, the head of the station (which was one of the earliest and most influential ILR stations) was a visionary, seeing something in the programme that the Religious committee didn’t. It was Bob's challenge to the committee about their poor ratings and the threat of being axed, that gave Chris the opportunity to develop Christian programming.
And so followed 10 years of giving up every weekend to do the show, with much religious opposition from those who could not understand that God could use contemporary music to carry His word.
The Solid Rock of Jesus Christ became The Cross Rhythms Experience in 1992, and syndication of the Cross Rhythms Experience began in 1993.
Then in 1996 a strategic alliance took shape. Cross Rhythms birthed a youth station for UCB (United Christian Broadcasters), which officially launched 24 hours a day on Sky Digital in July 1998 at the Cross Rhythms festival.
After 5 years of working in close relationship with the then MD of UCB Gareth Littler, a decision was taken by both charities (UCB and Cross Rhythms) to explore to either merge the two charities or to disengage. It was felt that the decision to disengage was the right one so that this would enable both ministries to fulfill their original vision and calling. With space a problem too with both ministries expanding, this change in relationship then resulted in Cross Rhythms Radio Station with the other Cross Rhythms ministries purchasing Conway House (the ex BBC Radio Stoke building) in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent.
In September 2001, Cross Rhythms found out that we had been awarded an FM licence to broadcast across Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme as one of 15 of the government's new Access Community radio pilot stations. Amazingly, at the same time we received the award, God was also working in the local churches across Stoke and Newcastle. That month, an unadvertised prayer meeting attracted 300-400 people to pray for the city. Subsequent prayer gatherings each month have drawn between 400 and 700 people for prayer and repentance. This came on the back of a nationwide survey that very month which ranked Stoke-on-Trent as 376th out of 376 as the 'worst place to live in England & Wales'.
Possibly the recognition of the physical and spiritual need in the city has connected with local church, which has also helped create an openness from the church to the more contemporary nature of Cross Rhythms radio. Whilst the church has not necessarily understood our contemporary expression, they have not been resistant to us but have been very supportive.
Cross Rhythms moved into our new home, Conway House in July 2002 having begun broadcasting on 101.8FM across North Staffordshire in February of the same year. This licence was initially a one year pilot scheme and Cross Rhythms City Radio was the first Community radio station to get on air. Since finishing that first year, three extensions were given, the third of which ended in June 2005. This station is also rebroadcast on the Internet.
Having started with 25 albums and the comment "great idea, like the music, problem is there won’t be enough albums," as of 2004 Christian music has seen such phenomenal growth that the Cross Rhythms radio CD library now boasts inexcess of 9,000 albums.
Where is Cross Rhythms Radio going now? Check out our Vision pages.
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