7 July 2006

FAITH CHRISTIAN CENTER BUYS WRIB; CHURCH KO'S R. I. PIONEER RELIGIOUS & FOREIGN LANGUAGE PROGRAMS AS STATION PLUNGES INTO DARKNESS Our beloved radio station today was officially given "dark" status as the new owners, Seekonk, Ma. mega-church Faith Christian Center completed their purchase of WRIB and unexpectedly pulled the plug at 12:30 PM. Several foreign language programs who had office space in the building were set to scrambling to remove music and personal effects before they were declared to be "trespassers" by the new ownership. While some people were aware of the impending sale, they had been assured by the church that they would be given a 30 day notice, but were informed at the last minute that on the advice of church attorneys WRIB would be shut down and closed indefinitely while new owners constructed new studios. And NONE would be invited back for the future grand re-opening. This meant that many long time broadcasters were unceremoniously shown the door with no chance of even saying "goodbye" to their loyal listeners. The Armenian Radio Hour had been on the air since 1947, actually signing on when WRIB first began operations in the old Narragansett Hotel in Providence. Hoping to celebrate their 60th anniversary next year, director and founder Russell Gasparian simply vanishes from the airwaves. The Voice of Italy, founded in 1951 was given no opportunity to say "arrivederci". And while Spanish language programming practically dominates local airwaves now, the pioneer Spanish show "La Inconfundible" heard on WRIB since 1973 was the first Hispanic voice ever heard on Rhode Island radio or TV. Now, just a memory. Portuguese listeners have lost "Radio Dinos" without so much as a good-bye. Religious programs faired equally poorly. "The Victory Hour" (1960), "Thru The Bible (1972) and Father John Randal's "Spirit & The Word" (1984) have all been deep sixed. Heavily weighted in favor of Catholic programming, (reflecting the state's large Catholic population) many of the station's religious programs knew their time was nearly up based on the religious leanings of Faith Christian Center, but no one could imagine that the end would be so incredibly sudden. Simply put, the lack of compassion by a so-called Christian church almost defies belief. Rallies and demonstrations are now reportedly in the works. This show of solidarity amongst the former foreign language program directors will doubtless cause Faith Christian Center some small amount of consternation, if not outright embarrassment. As of this writing, WRIB sits dark and quiet. We were not a station that everybody knew about, yet we like to think that we were beloved by those who did...a friendly connection to the home from whence so many of our hard working immigrants came. And WRIB was also a "home" to those who worked there. WRIB was a special place.... and now it's nothing. Perhaps one day Faith Christian Center will grow tired of preaching to the choir, and perhaps one day WRIB will once again belong to the people of Rhode Island. But only one thing is certain..... someday all this will belong to the meek. Imagine that!

R 364
97-H 6998
Passed in House
Jun. 12, 1997

H O U S E???R E S O L U T I O N


WHEREAS, " Heritage, culture, tradition; Armenians are proud of it and wherever Armenian songs are heard, there Armenia lives..." These moving words introducing the Armenian Radio Hour have been spoken by Russell Razmig Gasparian hundreds of times and have been heard by thousands of enthusiastic listeners for the past fifty years. One of the longest-running ethnic broadcasts in the nation, this remarkable program has been, and continues to be, a beacon for news, music and current events for the Armenian-American community in Rhode Island and the southern New England area; and

WHEREAS, The Armenian Radio Hour began when independent radio was in its infancy and was broadcast from WRIB located in the former Narragansett Hotel in downtown Providence. Fifty years since its humble beginnings in 1947 this program is now broadcast "live" every Sunday morning to a listening audience of more than 65,000 people; and

WHEREAS, The splendid accomplishments of the Armenian Radio Hour led to its being inducted into the Museum of Television and Radio in New York last December 18, 1996. A tape of the entire 50th anniversary program, to be broadcast on June 15, 1997, will become a permanent part of the museum; and

WHEREAS, Since its inception, the voice of the Armenian Radio Hour has been Russell Razmig Gasparian. Without any formal training in radio broadcasting, he soon enjoyed a large following and aired his show from various local radio stations. His fine efforts have earned him the plaudits of various community, religious, social, and charitable groups. He has been honored by the Armenian Martyrs Memorial Committee, been given the "Keys to the City" of Providence, received the 1991 Medal of St. Sahagian and St. Mesrob, and was named "Armenian of the Year" in 1992; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That this House of Representatives of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations is hereby pleased and proud to join the thousands of admirers of the Armenian Radio Hour in celebrating the program's 50th anniversary. Dedicated to preserving the rich Armenian heritage and culture, the Armenian Radio Hour is a labor of love which continues to serve the Armenian people of Rhode Island and southern New England. May it continue to provide this magnificent service for many, many years to come. As the Armenian Radio Hour's traditional closing remarks make clear, "Making you happy makes me happy."; and be it further

RESOLVED, That the Secretary of State be and he hereby is authorized and directed to transmit a duly certified copy of this resolution to the producer and host of the Armenian Radio Hour, Russell Razmig Gasparian, on behalf of everyone who has ever been a part of this excellent program.

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