When Chuck Lay—better known to radio listeners as Buddy Holiday—launched KSBJ more than 40 years ago, he had no idea the Houston-based radio station would become the nation’s largest Christian radio station in terms of audience.

“Back then, there was no Spotify or Pandora—music was not as easy to come by as it is today,” said Joe Paulo, president and CEO of Hope Media Group. “So the dream and the vision was, ‘Can we just have an FM radio station that can provide great, high-quality Christian music to people 24 hours a day?’ And that was really the genesis of KSBJ back in 1982.”

The framework

Today, KSBJ is one of several radio stations housed under the umbrella of Hope Media Group. Based in Humble, the nonprofit multiplatform media organization has expanded across state lines to include both local and national radio stations in English and Spanish. Additionally, the organization produces digital content, including a network of podcasts, and hosts a variety of events and concerts throughout the year.

“Because we’re nonprofit and we operate noncommercial radio stations, we cannot sell commercial air time like most radio stations do, so we depend on donations,” Paulo said. “Only about 5% of our audience actually financially supports the organization, so when you think about all that’s taking place, and it’s being done by a relatively small group of people, it’s really remarkable. It really speaks to the generosity of Texans and, specifically, Houstonians.”

The media group includes:
  • KSBJ: a Houston-based, Houston-focused Christian radio station
  • WayFM: a network of Christian radio stations in 29 markets across the country, including in Texas, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Colorado
  • Vida Unida: a Christian radio station for Spanish listeners that broadcasts in Houston, Miami and New York City
  • NGEN: a digital-only Christian pop and hip-hop radio station geared toward younger listeners
  • WAY LOUD: a digital-only Christian rock station
  • Hope Nation: A digital platform where Hope Media Group houses its podcast network, short videos, articles and short-form Bible studies
  • Hope Events: Home Media Group’s concert and events department
  • God Listens: Hope Media Group’s prayer app, which is also utilized by churches and other Christian radio stations
The impact

In addition to providing Christian music, Paulo said Hope Media Group also partners with other nonprofits both locally and globally to give back and support others. Throughout the year, Hope Media Group hosts “The World’s Biggest Baby Shower” to collect supplies for crisis pregnancy centers; provides Christmas gifts for foster children through Be A Resource, or BEAR; and works to end poverty globally through its partnership with Compassion United.

“Our mission is to engage people to love Jesus, serve others and spread hope. That ‘serve others’ part is where we really want to mobilize our audiences to do good, to make the community a better place to live and raise a family," Paulo said.

During severe weather events and other local emergencies, Hope Media Group also partners with nonprofits God’s Pit Crew and Convoy of Hope to provide immediate assistance to those in need.

“We have also really ramped up our ability to provide weather coverage. People may not think of KSBJ as a weather station, but we take that very seriously because—especially in the Houston area—that can be the difference between life and death with some of the severe weather events that we face.”

Stay tuned

In late 2023, Hope Media Group broke ground on its new global headquarters, which is set to anchor Valley Ranch’s entertainment district upon opening in April 2025. The New Caney facility will house roughly half of Hope Media Group’s approximately 200 employees, Paulo said.

“We really need a facility that’s designed for not only current-day media but the media that’s going to take us to the future, because the facility we’re in now was really geared around a single radio station, ... and Hope Media Group is now a lot more than just a single radio station,” he said.

The project is part of a $30 million capital campaign that will also allow the nonprofit to expand its reach for Spanish listeners and ramp up its digital media footprint, Paulo said. As of mid-June, the organization was about $5 million from reaching its goal.