Like thousands of others before him, Volody Nesteruk brought his family to Spokane from the Ukraine.
Now Nesteruk, a Seventh-day Adventist pastor, wants to do something for his ministry and the city’s growing population of Russian speakers by starting the state’s first Russian-language television channel.
Piggybacking on an open channel of Spokane’s He’s Alive Television, a Seventh-day Adventist network, the new channel is airing at 39.3 on the UHF dial. Called the Open Book Channel, it offers religious-themed programs and recorded church services, as well as cooking and exercise shows and children’s programming, Nesteruk said.
“We will be able to provide a wide range of programming for our Russian families here in Spokane,” he said. “We’re trying to make our channel interesting for people who have no religious affiliation.”
There are an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 Russian speakers in Spokane, and that population has been growing rapidly since the 1990s.
“The Russian programming will be like a little touch of home for them,” Nesteruk said.
Nesteruk is a pastor of the Slavic Adventist Church, which meets for Russian-language services at the Linwood Seventh-day Adventist Church. He moved here in 2004 with his wife and three children and has been using television as a part of his ministry for several years.
Most recently, recordings of his services have aired on a local He’s Alive channel four times a week, as well as on a channel in Europe and Russia. When the He’s Alive station went through a technological upgrade recently, it opened up room for the Russian-language channel.
Nesteruk said it’s the only one he knows of in the state, though there is a Russian-language radio station in the Seattle area.
The channel has begun airing programs, and Nesteruk has scheduled a grand opening ceremony for next Saturday at 3:30 at the Linwood Seventh-day Adventist Church, 6525 N. Monroe St. It is not available on cable, but Nesteruk said he’s interested in that possibility down the road.
Nesteruk said that the goal of the channel is to appeal to all Russian speakers, though a lot of the programming will have a religious bent.
“We are here to share the gospel,” he said. “We are grateful God has given us this privilege to minister to our Russian-speaking families in a special way.”