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John Stortz

John grew up in Western New York, just north of Buffalo. His interest in radio began at about age four when he wanted to know how all those people could fit inside a floor model Zenith. His was one of the last families to buy a TV and when it did arrive, his dad turned the radio cabinet into kindling wood for the coal furnace and mounted the electronics on a shelf in the basement.

That old Zenith had shortwave bands which introduced the inquisitive youngster to the amazing world of international broadcasting and missionary radio station HCJB in Quito, Ecuador. It was HCJB that inspired him to move into his life's calling as an Christian radio engineer. A heart condition slowed him down during his teenage years and doctor’s orders forced him to take a year off from school. But eventually, he regained his strength and completed an AAS degree in electronics.

After doing TV repair for about six months, John got a job as the only electronics tech in a deep-sea diving research group at Union Carbide. When the company moved him to the New York City area, he got to visit Trans World Radio in Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles and help with their 500kw AM transmitter. That’s where he decided to go into Christian broadcasting. After leaving Union Carbide, he graduated from Houghton College with a BS in communications and got his FCC First Phone.

Not long afterwards, a friend’s parents, who spent their winters in St Petersburg, happened to mention WKES to him. Station GM Bill Caldwell responded to a letter he wrote and invited him down to take a look at the operation. Liking what he saw, the engineering enthusiast accepted a position in September 1977 as a board operator, with only a suggestion of “occasional assistant” to the chief engineer. After almost three years, he was becoming a “bored” board op and was about to look around for something else when the chief engineer suddenly quit and he was promoted to the position.  

Today (2011), John finds his work as WKES’ chief engineer to be a privilege with great reward, and sums it up by saying, “We are not here just to make money, but to change lives and give our listeners hope for a better future.”

Station History

1977 - 1980 Other Tampa Bay Area Stations (Board Operator)
1980 - 2011 Other Tampa Bay Area Stations (Engineering)

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