Oregon Conference TV Stations to offer Spanish & English Programming
By Rachel Scribner
Beginning in early 2016, the Oregon Conference will air 24-hour television programming in English and Spanish. The channels, 36.3 (English) and 36.4 (Spanish), will initially broadcast Hope Channel and Esperanza TV, with later plans including filming more local programming to create channels that speak to non-Christian Portlanders in a more local-friendly style.
Bringing Hope Channel to Portland was only a dream for Oregon Conference president Al Reimche when channel 36 came up for sale five years ago. At the time, 36 was an out-of-use analog channel. The seller offered a low price to 3ABN’s affiliate network, Better Life TV. Better Life was eager to move into the Portland area, but purchasing another channel proved too expensive.
That’s when Reimche stepped in. With support from the North American Division (NAD), the Oregon Conference purchased channel 36. The generous seller even helped license the channel for digital TV, meaning that, among other things, the conference could now have several channels: 36.1, 36.2, 36.3 and 36.4.
Reimche invited Better Life to begin broadcasting immediately, and in October of 2010, channel 36.1 went on the air. The network has since added Better Health TV on channel 36.2.
But Reimche still wanted to see the Hope Channel on Portland screens. And as the conference media program grew, so did his dream. Finally, in spring of 2014, the Oregon Conference Media Center became an affiliate of the Hope Channel and announced plans to release English and Spanish channels with locally-made programs in the future.
Now, after years of preparation under Communications director Gary McLain and Media Center director JC Muñoz, the channels are almost ready. “Our dream is that, as of January, we will be on the air full-time,” Reimche told the conference media board this month.
Reimche stresses that locally-made content is the key to reaching unchurched Portlanders. Once the channels are up and running, the media team will focus on creating those local programs. Reimche hopes church members will understand when the shows aren’t familiar or church-like. “The Portland area is unique,” Reimche says. “Being the most unchurched area in the US, it takes special programming to enter the market…preaching is not necessarily going to reach them.”
“I have a feeling if we create content for the Portland area people, it’s going to go way beyond Portland,” McLain says. “It’s going to reach other areas that are similar.”
Producing the quality and quantity of shows necessary to reach a secular audience is a daunting task, but Reimche, McLain, and Muñoz all believe God has a part to play. “We are dreaming with little here. We know it’s going to be difficult,” Muñoz told the board, “but we believe God can bless us, so we are starting.”
“I know I pray about it every day,” McLain says. “I’ve been amazed by what we have been able to accomplish so far, and I think that’s because of God’s hand in it, definitely.”