Latest on the possible sale of KFUO-FM

Here’s the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Lutheran Church votes to continue KFUO sale talks

KFUO-FM hasn’t been sold — yet.

The Kirkwood-based Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod announced Friday afternoon that its board of directors has voted to continue negotiations to sell KFUO 99.1 FM. As previously reported, the presumptive buyer is Gateway Creative Broadcasting, the parent corporation of Christian contemporary rock station Joy FM.

And here’s the official LCMS word on the matter.

Directors proceed on KFUO, endorse malaria project

By Roland Lovstad

A special committee and the chief financial officer have been authorized by the LCMS Board of Directors to continue with multiple negotiations toward the possible sale of KFUO-FM.

Meeting Aug. 20-21 in St. Louis the Board also endorsed the Synod’s participation in the Lutheran Malaria Initiative and heard reports that the 2008-09 fiscal year ended June 30 with a positive balance.

In acting on the KFUO-FM matter, the Board adopted the following:

* “Resolved, that special counsel in conjunction with the chief financial officer proceed with the multiple negotiations reported to the Board in executive sessions, and be it further

* “Resolved, that the KFUO Committee of the Board be hereby instructed to continue to investigate the uninterrupted broadcast of the 99.1 classical format in the St. Louis market; and be it finally

* “Resolved, that the KFUO Committee of the Board be hereby authorized by the Board and empowered to determine in its absolute and sole discretion if and when the corporation shall enter into an asset purchase agreement for the sale of KFUO-FM and upon what terms and conditions approximating those reported to the Board and to cause same to be done without further action by the Board.”


Comments

Latest on the possible sale of KFUO-FM — 13 Comments

  1. ” continue to investigate the uninterrupted broadcast of the 99.1 classical format ”

    What does this mean? Play on words in Luther’s question unintended. A reference to the possibility that the classical format could be interrupted before a sale?

    Corporate sly-speak to make it look as though continued operation of the station as a classical music medium would be part of the sale terms?

    Who would ever buy – as in, “believe” – the second? That just isn’t how the world works. After I buy something, it’s mine to do with as I please. Well, I can see an exception: a building protected by some national historic trust’s laws.

    But a band on the radio waves? If I were a prospective buyer, and knew my seller were motivated (which Synod, Inc., obviously is), I might agree to a very temporary phase-out of the classical programs, at most.

    I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing that it’s easier to sell air time on a CCM-format station than on a classical, at this point. If CCM radio is a buyer’s business, it makes no sense that the seller would presume to dictate that the sale would include restrictions as to the broadcast format.

    And what did Jerry Kieschnick do with the Circle of Friends’ $800,000 donation, again??? Did any of it go to Classic 99? Was it understood that it should have?

    You know who else has no financial accountability to its members? The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (The Mormons), that’s who. OK, my rant is ended. Go in peace.

  2. I’m surprised the LCMS execs didn’t go the CCM route with 99.1 KFUO FM themselves. CCM meets their theological goals and is apparently profitable. I suppose they are content enough to do that with KFUO AM.

  3. …that the KFUO Committee of the Board be hereby instructed to continue to investigate the uninterrupted broadcast of the 99.1 classical format in the St. Louis market…

    In the LCMS, when a board promises to “investigate” or “study” something, it usually means that they’ve already made up their minds, but don’t want to admit it yet.

    Regarding sale of the 99.1 signal, the sentence is meaningless unless: 1) the BOD is planning to make retaining the present format a condition of the sale –which is impossible, or 2) the BOD is planning to sell the signal to investors from the St. Louis arts community, in which case they know that the buyer is going to retain the present format. But the arts folks are only offering $8 million, and it would be fiscally irresponsible for the BOD to consider any bid lower than the $18 million they already have on the table from Joy FM.

    The problem with retaining the classical format is that classical music doesn’t make money in terrestrial radio. That is why there are fewer than two dozen commercial classical stations in the US.

    I suspect the statement is pure PR, to dampen the reaction of the St. Louis arts folks to the inevitability of the sale.

    In any case, it looks like the BOD is finally waking up the financial realities at LCMS Inc.

    TW

  4. 18 million is no-brainer sell it! Now! Additionally, if we could get any money for the AM station sell it too.

  5. And who gets to decide what becomes of the $18M??? This is not merely a decision on the sale but whose agenda the proceeds will fund… And where will the parameters of that discussion take place? Behind the closed doors of an executive session, most likely.

  6. (1) Don’t sell the station until Matt Harrison gets elected as synodical president. Do you really want the money from the sales in effect to go to the Ablaze! program? If a station doesn’t have to keep the classical format after it buys the station, the synod’s board of directors don’t have to say for what they will use the money. Selling off property and broadcasting rights in order to pay off debts is more costly than the dollar figure alone indicates.

    (2) To put it mildly, there isn’t much interest in the Lutheran confessions amongst the staff of KFUO-FM. As I have advocated formally with one or two others, the station manager, program director and “talent” should have their employment discontinued, knowing full well that there are consequences to such actions.

    I make this statement soberly. I have served as a student engineer at KFUO radio during my seminary days and I served a 3-year term on the Board for Communications Services. It can also be demonstrated in print by the two-types of Christmas announcements they have sent out to their supporters: one is a version that mentions Christ, the other looks identical but makes absolutely no reference to Christ whatsoever.

    A fundamental change is needed. The selling of the station is just a symptom of a MUCH more serious problem.

  7. That the higher bid comes from a CCM station certainly adds insult to injury for the classical music fans (many of them Lutheran) of St. Louis. I can only imagine how Dr. Siemon-Netto feels about this!

    Still, the leadership of the Synod has been called to exercise stewardship over assets that we inherited from prior generations. To accept a far lower bid in order to keep classical on the air in St. Louis is not proper for a national church body with a global scope.

    Pr. Brandos brings up a good point. Can we trust the leadership to exercise good stewardship over the funds received? I have no problem seeing those funds dedicated to paying off old debts (particularly to human care and missions). I would be horrified to see them spent on another ill-advised fad like Ablaze!

    But the longer we wait, the less the asset is worth. I think we should sell to the highest bidder.

  8. $8 million in cash might in the end be more real money than $18 million in a token payment and financing guaranteed by lcms inc.
    But if the unwritten motive is to get CCM on KFUO it might be “worth it” to current leadership. Given past performance, this is entirely possible.

    Any money resulting from this has already been wasted.

  9. I’m surprised the LCMS execs didn’t go the CCM route with 99.1 KFUO FM themselves. CCM meets their theological goals…

    Easy answer: they’d lose their present donor base w/o attracting “JOY’s” givers (however many that may be).

  10. (1) Don’t sell the station until Matt Harrison gets elected as synodical president. Do you really want the money from the sales in effect to go to the Ablaze! program?

    Of course not…but, how much will this asset be worth in 2022, when Matt Harrison is finally elected?

    EJG (something about chicken counting comes faintly to my remembrance)

  11. Joel,

    The sale of a radio license takes time. It is likely that the transaction won’t be completed until after 2010.

    TW

  12. if they don’tget their license til 2010 then we I pray will have GOOD CHRISTIAN CHRISTMAS music as well as Reformation and Advent music for 2009!!!!!

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