Hosanna Broadcasting Network set to make the leap to TV

OW Staff | 12/1/2010, 5 p.m.

When Hosanna Broadcasting Network (HBN) officially announces the expansion of its Los Angeles-based Christian cable and satellite-television channel on Dec. 10, it will be another major step toward founder Tersit Asrat's goal of taking the gospel of Jesus Christ to underserved people of the world.

The announcement will be at HBN's annual "Breakfast With the Clergy" at 9:30 a.m. in the LAX Westin Hotel at 5400 W. Century Blvd.

HBN is one of the largest Christian satellite radio networks broadcasting to Africa, as well as other parts of the world. Among its participating ministries is Crenshaw Christian Center, the Los Angeles-based mega-church founded by Apostle Frederick K.C. Price.

HBN TV will seek to include original family, educational and Christian programming.

Pastor Jack Hayford, founder of Church on the Way in Van Nuys, will be the keynote speaker at the breakfast, while Angela Evans and Cheryl Price of Crenshaw Christian Center are the featured guests.

Ethiopia-born Asrat began her business career after graduating from California Polytechnic University in Pomona, with a bachelor's degree in accounting. She soon established Kyros Productions, a multicultural public relations, promotions and marketing company through which she produced national benefit concerts, conventions and festivals for such clients as Volunteers of America, Marlboro cigarettes and Pabst Brewing. From there she entered a partnership with Artesa, a media planning and buying service, catering to the Hispanic, African-American, European and Asian markets.

She also established the Universal Media Group, a full-service marketing company with such clients as Nordstrom, Blue Cross of California and Sumitomo Bank of California. The company reportedly was billing up to $1.3 million annually, after only eight years before it collapsed in 1998.

Although at a low point careerwise, a new job required Asrat to meet with WorldSpace Satellite Company, a satellite radio company, in Washington, D.C., to pitch coverage of a soccer game. The owner wasn't interested in the game, but he saw something in Asrat.

"You're tenacious," he told Asrat. "Why don't you have your own channel?"

"I got excited," she said, "because my agency was closed, and I was looking for new opportunities.

When I told him I didn't have the capital, he offered the first year for free."

And when she wanted Christian programming, the Muslim owner didn't change his answer.

Unfortunately, it would take her seven years of hard-nosed rejections after meetings with reluctant pastors and the selling of her home to eventually raise the seed funds.

Today, she lays claim to being owner of the largest Christian satellite radio network in the United States. HBN's present radio coverage includes Africa and the Middle East, with an option to expand to Asia and Europe. HBN broadcasts 24 hours of free inspirational programming for millions of the underserved people who don't have televisions or computers.

In January, the network will launch HBN-TV broadcasting in the United States and parts of Canada and Mexico.

The theme of the upcoming breakfast is "Make the Choice to Become the Voice of Jesus Christ," said Asrat. Admission is free.