Blue Mountain Television Celebrates 30 years

February 24, 2020 | Missions and Outreach | Lowell Mann

The day Blue Mountain Television went on the air — April 20, 1990 — began the journey for a station unlikely to be successful by human estimation. Blue Mountain Broadcasting Association, located in College Place, Washington, was not expected to be able to support a television station in the Walla Walla Valley. After all, several attempts at commercial stations in the valley over the years had failed because the audience was just too small to support a commercial-based operation.

However, when local pastor Roger Johnson proposed the idea of a television station, the 13 Seventh-day Adventist churches in the Walla Walla Valley rallied around the idea, sending board member representatives and volunteers and making appeals for funding in their churches. Soon three low-power stations licenses were granted from the Federal Communications Commission — an amazing event, given that the licenses were awarded through a lottery system. Soon, the volunteer board members were looking for someone to manage the station and hired Lynelle Childs Ellis, a recent graduate from Walla Walla College (WWC). Childs served as station manager 1990–1997 and 1999–2005, while Jay Christian Holm managed the station 1997–1999.

The early years at Blue Mountain Television revolved around producing local programming that would serve the valley residents and attract them to the station. Several local programs were developed, including Blue Mountain News (the senior project of WWC student Julie Sanders-Keymer), Valley Viewpoint and The Village Church at Worship. The station also featured 30-minute specials about local events. Blue Mountain Television personnel, including a number of talented interns from Walla Walla College, also created productions of local concerts, special presenters and camp meeting events.

In the early 2000s, station leaders spent time reenvisioning what Blue Mountain Television should look like and how it should reach out to the community. A new logo was created. New station promos and programming put an emphasis on reaching those not directly connected with church. The station became a Hope Channel affiliate, and Nikia Furman, production manager during this era, used his significant creative skills to enhance the credibility of the station and to create an award-winning outdoor adventure reality show called Escape. This show was picked up by several national Christian television networks and was a high point for production at the station.

After 2005, Dan Thesman managed the station and put an emphasis on local news and programming that might interest a broader regional constituency. The next manager was evangelist Kim Kjaer. During the 2010s, under his leadership and vision, the reach of Blue Mountain Television grew to include additional regions of Washington state through cable access and internationally through streaming. Station personnel developed programs that focused on doctrinal teaching and also made plans for a building and studio dedicated solely to the ministry of the station.

In recent years, Lowell Mann, who began his work as a Blue Mountain Televation intern in 2004, has become the station manager and, along with the board of directors, is leading the station through a new visioning process. Volunteers and donors are currently invigorated by the new plans — including a wonderful building recently purchased. This new facility is the first home Blue Mountain Broadcasting Association has owned rather than borrowed or rented.

Once again, station leadership is putting an emphasis on relating with the community and drawing individuals to a hopeful and meaningful life by connecting them with Christ. Daniel Biggs, production manager, is contributing his noteworthy skills by creating programs, such as the Secret Life series, that uplift God’s creation and connect with the broader community. And technological advances are on the horizon too as the station moves to all high definition broadcast.

As Blue Mountain Television celebrates 30 years, opportunities to reveal God’s character of love through new content creation are opening. The future looks bright for Blue Mountain Television.