Another PR disaster?

I’ve mentioned before my agnosticism on the matter of selling KFUO-FM. I am swayable to arguments on both sides.

Still, from a public relations standpoint, who in the world thought that the way to announce the decision to sell KFUO was best handled this way?

The story, featured in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, is well written and fair, but the LCMS comes off looking horrific. The only people who come off reasonable are Synod Treasurer Tom Kuchta (proponent of selling) and St. Louis Symphony Orchestra president Fred Bronstein (opponent of selling).

The secrecy surrounding the decision is astounding. The reporter breaks the news that the Board of Directors recently appointed a special committee with the authority to sell KFUO-FM. First I’ve heard of that. That committee is acting in “near-secrecy” according to the report. They aren’t even sharing their terms of what they’d require with a group of potential buyers. The potential buyers, a group of major donors to the station, are livid and wondering what happened to the $800,000 they raised in the last two years. How amateurish!

The news also reports that if the station had been sold last year, it might have gotten $24 million. Now it’s value is under $10 million. They’re reportedly hoping to get $20 million. The board, it seems, can’t even get the timing right.

Everyone involved in the secret committee — from the chairman to LCMS President Kieschnick — are refusing repeated requests for interviews. The board chairman did take an interview but brushed off all responsibility to the smaller group.

Just from a public relations standpoint, this whole thing is being handled horribly. To have the members of the LCMS — and members of congregations — find this news out not from our Synodical President but, rather, the mainstream media is just a disaster.

When are Kieschnick and the other leaders going to get their act together? It’s just embarrassing.


Another PR disaster? — 12 Comments

  1. If they sell, I expect it will all go down the black hole that is Ablaze!(TM).

  2. Mollie,

    I’m definitely not an agnostic on this one.

    In fact, on this one, LCMS President Kieschnick and the LCMS BOD are right— even if they are handling it with their typical ineptitude and lack of transparency.

    Classic 99 (KFUO-FM) should be sold.

    From almost ten years experience as staff pastor at KFUO, I have become convinced that as long as KFUO FM remains in LCMS hands, it will continue to dominate every budget, staffing, and development priority at the KFUO organiztion.

    The result? The Gospel proclamation on KFUO AM will remain the lowest priority at KFUO Radio.

    If people really value the Gospel legacy of Walter A. Maier, they will support the sale of KFUO FM.


  3. So let’s say they sell the FM, Todd. How will that improve the AM (budget, staffing, development priority, programming, etc.)?

    The money from the sale (if it is done in the year-and-a-half left under Kieschnick) would just be burned up in Ablaze!

  4. Charlie,

    If they sell it, management will not be able to shift budget, staffing, development priorities to the FM station. They would be forced to finally, after decades, get behind the KFUO AM.

    The money from the sale is already spent. After all, Synod Inc. has to repay the $14 million-plus of designated donations it has borrowed to pay bills. There won’t be anything left over for Ablaze!, or anything else.

    Charlie, let me ask you: What should LCMS Inc. sell? A Seminary? A University? Something will be sold. Would you hesitate to sell Classic 99 if that were the choice? Because it is.

    Yo might say, if we just hold out until 2010, we’ll have a different leadership and the money will flow again. Don’t count on it.


  5. If that really is our only alternative, then by all means make the best deal possible and sell the station. But do it publicly so that all member congregations know what is going on.

    “After all, Synod Inc. has to repay the $14 million-plus of designated donations it has borrowed to pay bills.”

    Why are they required to repay the loan? Is there a firm repayment due date on the loan? Who holds them responsible for the repayment? Is there accountability?

    Inc. often makes the rules as they go along don’t they?

  6. Kevin,

    You wrote: “Why are they required to repay the loan? Is there a firm repayment due date on the loan? Who holds them responsible for the repayment? Is there accountability? LCMS Inc. often makes the rules as they go along don’t they?”

    Yes, LCMS Inc. often makes up the rules as it goes along. In fact, I have recently learned that such is far more common than I thought.

    However, the money has been borrowed from designated gifts –gifts given to the LCMS for a specific purpose (like disaster relief donations to LCMS World Relief).

    Now, I suppose LCMS Inc. could leave those borrowed designated gifts unreimbursed indefinitely, while they may be needed for their original purpose (the purpose for which donors gave them), so that LCMS Inc. could continue to prop up a pop-classical music station that loses money.

    But would it make any sense for a church body to do that?


  7. Does the state of Missouri have anything to say about a non-profit corporation using designated gifts for other purposes? Just wondering.

  8. Cindy,

    It’s not illegal. But the Church should live by a higher standard than what’s illegal, right?


  9. Pastor Wilken, So true. I’m just looking for a way to force Inc. to do the right thing—but this admin.doesn’t know the first thing about that. One would think that as Christians Inc. would act with more integrity. I would like to see their feet held to the fire, just once. So turn them over to the state.

  10. Shut down the heretical KFUO.

    I regularly listen online while at work, and greatly enjoy the music they program, yet I still say “Shut down the heretical KFUO”.
    Sunday, March 29, the show “Sing for Joy” (listen here ) caught my attention. The announcer who begins and ends the show with the sponsor list, topic for the show, and introduces the host (Pastor Bruce Benson) identified herself as “Pastor Jennifer Koenig” (? last name spelling) at the end of the show.
    So, at the very least an unseasoned listener may think we (the LCMS) are hypocrites since it appears that the LCMS (host station/owner of KFUO) supports women as pastors. KFUO may not spread the Gospel effectively (at all?), but if they are allowed to say that they are affiliated with the LCMS, they MUST NOT CONTRADICT ANY BIBLICAL TRUTH! If they do contradict anything in the Bible, the offending show must be removed, or the station shut down (or sold).

    Shut down the heretical KFUO.

    In Christ crucified,

  11. Cindy (#9) – the only “fire” to which the feet of the current management of LCMS, Inc. and its Districts is the vote that its members have this year in District Conventions and next year in the Synodical Convention. We need to winsomely spread the word and get out the vote!

  12. The secrecy disturbs me greatly. I can understand the desire to keep these matters secret. Yet all members of synod have a right to know what is going on, so that they can have their say in the matter. The sale will not solve the financial difficulties, but the station will be lost forever. Why not look at the reasons for the financial problems and rectify them rather than selling the station.

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