More bad press on the KFUO-FM sale

A St. Louis site has a post up titled “Why So Secretive About The KFUO-FM Sale?” I don’t know much about the specifics of the sale, but this site raises some questions about the viability of the proposed buyer:

Very reliable sources say the board of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod will announce the sale of KFUO-FM sometime in October. Why, you may wonder, is everything being done so quietly? After all, no information has been forthcoming on this since word came out the church was pursuing a rather irresponsible (from a business perspective) deal with a group that already has a couple Christian music stations in the market but doesn’t have enough money to buy KFUO-FM.

Could it be that the board of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod underestimated the flack they’d catch from angry listeners? I don’t think so. It doesn’t appear the LCMS board cares what the listeners think.

Maybe they were taken by surprise by the anger that welled up within the church itself. That’s more likely. In fact, it’s possible a couple of very influential folks within the LCMS have let the board members know the push by two of them to sell the station and finance the sale was as stupid as it appeared. In fact, the purported buyer didn’t have access to enough money to pay the amount it had bid. Red flag, anyone?

So why would the board of the LCMS even do something that appears to be so irresponsible? Maybe they believe a powerhouse FM commercial station with a classical format doesn’t have much value. I guess they haven’t heard about WCRB in Boston. They play classical music at 99.5 and they’ve just announced a sale for $14 million. It’s a debt-for-equity swap with public broadcaster WGBH. There’s no need to go into specifics. The point is, an imaginative, knowledgeable management group (even a not-for-profit group) can do this sort of thing right.

Meanwhile, most members of the Lutheran Church are completely unaware of the business that is being conducted involving assets owned by the synod – assets that have been supported by money the church members gave to the synod. They’re going to be very surprised and angry when this deal involving their money is announced.

Don’t expect to hear much about the KFUO-FM sale. A couple board members with singed tail feathers may want to keep this out of the papers.


More bad press on the KFUO-FM sale — 14 Comments

  1. Perhaps the best course would be to sell the AM station and keep the FM station for classical and classical Christian music…ran by people who know Christian outreach and radio: like, the ‘Lutheran Public Radio’ people?

  2. Let’s sell all of the assets of LCMS Inc. minus the seminaries, return the money to the congregations and see how they decide to restructure this synod.


    “Thank you for your ongoing support of Boston’s Classical Station, 99.5 WCRB…. and for your support of our streaming audio online. We have temporarily discontinued our streaming program. However, we are working hard to bring this service back to you as soon as possible! If you are in the Boston area, please tune in to 99.5 FM to continue listening. If you would like to be notified when we resume streaming our audio over the internet, please send an email to [email protected] and we will let you know when we’re back online with our classical music.

    Thanks again for your continued support of WCRB!”

  4. My theory is that lcms inc. would give the station away to get the kind of “entertainment” programming and ‘reformed’ services on the air that dovetail with their “model” missions. They don’t quite dare to do it themselves yet, (and don’t know how) but give them another election and it will be done.

    The station that brought you the Lutheran Hour will be bringing you Joel Osteen…or a clone of him.
    The ostriches who couldn’t/wouldn’t believe anything was wrong in synod will probably find an excuse for that, too.

  5. Let me see if I am still correct on this issue:

    1. They are selling the FM station only (the non-Christian, classical music station).

    2. They are not selling the AM station (which used to be the home of Issues, Etc.)

    If I am correct on this, I say sell it. LCMS, Inc. has no business owning a radio station unless it’s programming overtly Lutheran. I like classical music but it is not the Synod’s role to provide this service.

    That said, it should be sold intelligently.

  6. It may be that the St. Louis market is too small a media market to support a commercial classical music station. Even L.A./Orange County can’t support one. When I first came to the area in 1970, there was a commercial classical music station, KFAC, and several non-commercial FM stations that broadcast classical music much of the time. Now the only classical music station is non-commercial KUSC.

    I think selling KFUO-FM is a good idea.

    (I used to listen to classical music a lot when I was younger, but now listen mostly to talk radio on AM and podcasts.)

    Stan Slonkosky

  7. I rather doubt that Austin, Texas, is bigger than St. Louis but we have KMFA, a classical music station.
    Yes we have a university (several, various sizes and faiths) but so does St Louis.
    BTW, when I called in a pledge this a.m., they hit me for an additional amount for a web presence. Haven’t looked into that yet, but if it’s up and running, the noontime Bach Cantata is on Tuesday. They will be doing the Magnificat, if memory serves me.

  8. When I first looked at this, I wondered who “Frank” was and whether his comments on the “Arch City Chronicle” site were really legitimate.

    But it appears that the Classical Music correspondent, Sarah Bryan Miller of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has picked this up:

    “Frank” is identified as Frank Absher, a “radio insider.” (When I was a student engineer at KFUO back in the 80’s, I think there was a part-time engineer there by the name of Frank, but I that’s a long time ago and I don’t know if there would be any connection.)

  9. Minnesota Public Radio has a network of classical music stations around the state. Almost anywhere in the state of Minnesota you can listen over the airwaves to classical music 24 hours a day. It sounds like this is a rarity in the country. Minnesota Public radio also has a network of public radio stations that concentrate more on news, though tending to be of the liberal variety. National news and programming is from National Public Radio.

    Oh, and by the way, these stations are available for listening over streaming audio:

    Rob Franck
    Duluth, MN

  10. Rev. Brondos,

    Frank Absher is a former radio personality / news guy / etc., who after years in smaller markets, spent time at powerhouse KMOX 1120 in St. Louis before going to a local university as a teacher.

    He now runs his website as a “labor of love” with the mission to be ‘the premier website of the history of St. Louis broadcast radio. Our website includes articles on subjects from the city’s first on-air personalities to recent events which have permanently shaped the local radio scene.’

    He is indeed a “radio insider” and I imagine his interest in Classic 99 stems from the fact that it’s the last station in the market to play classical (UM-St. Louis’s KWMU stopped any significant classical play years ago), as well as the fairly unusual scenario of a churchbody owning such a station.

    His abbreviated CV at doesn’t list KFUO and I don’t know that he would’ve worked as an engineer. IIRC, he was more an on-air type.

  11. Thanks, Walther-insider. A few years ago, there had been another organization looking into starting another classical format broadcast in the St. Louis market. I guess that never came about.

    KFUO is a station with quite a history. My memory doesn’t serve me adequately, but I think that it was one of the first if not THE first radio station west of the Mississippi to broadcast at 100,000 watts. It was a real leader.

    But time and time again, the LCMS has missed the boat in the area of technology and communications – and mixed with what some of us consider (1) a rather dubious management record and (2) the synodical-stewardship-clear-cutting-the-forest-schemes like Fanning the Flame/Ablaze!, and (3) a failure to maintain the distinctive character of confessional Lutheran theology, the station finds itself in dire straits.

    I wish KFUO could be what it should be, but then I wish that for many things in the LCMS. As it is, it may be a microcosmic indicator of a synod incurvatus in se.

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