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Digital deadline looms for KJEP

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NASHVILLE – A local TV broadcasting station that has been on the airways for approximately 25 years is considering either changing its platform or shutting down altogether.
KJEP, a station that streams church and community related content, is in the process of deciding whether to switch to online-only broadcasting or to close its doors. According to board president Mark Cassady, the dilemma comes after a decrease in the station’s number of viewers due to so many cable customers switching to satellite.
The board is seeking feedback from the community and churches, and so far, according to Cassady, has yet to receive much input.
“The deadline for converting to digital is September 15,” Cassady related. “I feel like we need to make a decision ASAP to give the churches time to figure out what to do. We don’t have a definite date yet, but probably sometime in the next couple of weeks.”
Cassady said the station may close, especially if the churches would prefer to stream their events on their own websites.
KJEP was started by Ethelene and Sam Westbrook. After applying for a license and hitting a dead end, Glen Power and David Blaise teamed up to help. They traveled to Beech Street Baptist Church, which had their own TV station that Gary Underwood was in charge of. Mike Huckabee pastored the church.
After touring their facility, Huckabee and Underwood helped Power and Blaise with the plans to start K-JEP.
“They helped us to get it all started,” Blaise said gratuitously in a recent interview via email.
They formed a board and put the station on the property of Johnny and Ruth Wilson after constructing a small building to be the station’s headquarters and purchasing a dish and the equipment needed.
Blaise noted that, “From the beginning, the station was to be a religious and community project.”
KJEP was affiliated with the Trinity Broadcasting Network and the American Christian Television System. At one time, it was on 14 different cable systems, which lessened as some ceased to exist.
“The Low Power UHF Station was on the Cable Systems and folks within a 30 mile radius could receive the station on their home antennas,” Blaise said.
Over the years, this local station has provided cable customers with up-to-the-minute broadcasts over a wide range of events in the area. The Howard County Children’s Center has used it to air their yearly telethons and during football season, Scrapper fans have been able to tune in and view the games from the comfort of their own homes. Outside the immediate community, other activities, such as the Dierks Pine Tree Festival, have been broadcast.
According to Blaise, all congregations in this area were invited to film their services and broadcast them on the station.
“At one time there was Nashville, First Baptist, Immanuel Baptist, Ridgeway Baptist, Mineral Springs Church of Christ, Free Christian Zion Church of Christ, New Life in Jesus Christ Church, Harvest Time Assembly in Murfreesboro, Nashville First Assembly, Sunset Church of Christ, Ashdown First Baptist and Nashville’s First United Methodist Church,” he explained.
From the beginning, many have donated money to keep KJEP and the Westbrook’s dream afloat. Each year, a telethon was held to raise funds and featured television personalities, such as Dave Woodman, Matt Mosler, Beth Ward and B.J. Sams.
“We even had Tom Lester from Green Acres and Lulu Roman from Hee-Haw and others!” Blaise remarked.
He went on to say, “Through the years, many volunteers served the need of the Television Ministry. We all believed and still believe the Lord led us in this TV Ministry and many lives have been blessed by it.”

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