KFUO(FM) sale to be delayed?

The Webster-Kirkwood Times has a story saying as much, based largely on an interview with Frank Absher, a broadcast veteran and St. Louis radio historian. Here’s the meat of the story:

In a November interview, Kermit Brashear, an attorney for LCMS, suggested that critics of the sale might be mollified by a provision in the sale contract to continue classical music broadcasts on the station’s HD2 channel. Gateway would lease the high definition frequency 99.1-2HD to LCMS to continue classical music for at least two years.

However, that plan for a lease-back is in violation of FCC rules on licensure. FCC regulations prohibit a seller from reserving the right to use the facilities of the station for any period whatsoever.

Other glitches in the proposed radio station ownership transfer involve the financial viability of the sale, and the issue of whether KFUO was properly offered for sale to all of the potential interested buyers.

“On the issue of financial viability, I have looked at the federal tax returns of Gateway and it has been running deficits in the six-figures for the last two years,” said Absher. “Now, maybe they will come in with a 2009 return that shows they are in the black. That’s yet to be seen.”

Gateway, which operates Joy FM, located at 97.7 FM, has conducted a fund drive and now claims to have more than $1 million in pledges from supporters of Christian radio.

“There has been another complaint issued by the Radio Arts Foundation against the LCMS, and that complaint has some legal validity,” said Absher.

“The complaint says that LCMS made it clear in its dealings that it wanted to keep a Christian owner for the station – and that is clearly discriminatory,” noted Absher. “All offers from legitimate interested buyers must be entertained.”

Later in the story, Brashear says that objections to the station purchase have been trumped up by inaccurate reporting in St. Louis regarding the sale. He defended the sale as having a “viable commercial contract” with a qualified buyer.


KFUO(FM) sale to be delayed? — 75 Comments

  1. Miles,

    What asset would you suggest they sell? Remember, the finances of LCMS Inc. have reached emergency status.


  2. Miles,

    Your wrote, “I tried to write to LCMS Inc. last summer…”

    Why write a letter that can be ignored?

    As I said, you go to church with David Strand; just ask him to address the problem of KFUO’s backward priorities.

    Call Tom Kuchta and ask him to explain how the deal to sell Classic 99 to Gateway is structured. He is a good guy and willing to talk about it.


  3. @Todd Wilken #52

    At this point, for my money, I’m mostly interested in public discussions.
    The gentlemen you mentioned are free to jump in.
    It’s a public matter and should be done and discussed in the open.
    Ours is a strange corporation – where we are not members. There’s no forum for the layman where things are out in the open church-wise but still kept somewhat away from the world. Vital, properly authoritative congregational voter assemblies might be one step back in the right direction on this; lay membership in the synod itself might be radical but worth discussing.
    Your support of this synodical action has been the most problematic for me; you are the one I most need to understand and/or convince.

  4. Miles,

    I don’t understand.

    You’ve asserted that the sale is bogus. But when challenged to call inquire about the actual nature of the sale, you refuse.

    You’ve asserted that the management of KFUO can be changed, but when challenged to speak to the very person who can initiate that change, you refuse.

    Do you want accurate information about the sale or not? Do you want the management at KFUO changed or not?

    Convincing me to oppose the sale (even if it were possible) wouldn’t change anything.


  5. @Todd Wilken #54

    This is a public matter. Whatever they have to say that is worth saying should have already been put out in public. If it has, perhaps you can point me to it. If not, I would not expect a private conversation to be fruitful.

  6. Miles,

    I’m not buying it. If you really want the information and action you say you do, then talk to those who can give it to you.

    Or, do you only want to entertain speculation and imaginary scenarios?


  7. @Todd Wilken #54

    > Convincing me to oppose the sale (even if it were possible) wouldn’t change anything.

    It would make me feel better 🙂

    Pardon my pidgin old English, but the gentleman doth protest too much, methinks, regarding his influence.

  8. Miles,

    It sounds like an excuse to me. You complain that there is a lack of transparency, but you won’t even ask for the information.

    I can only conclude that you prefer to guess, imagine and speculate about what is really going on rather than know the truth.


  9. @Todd Wilken #59

    Pastor, I am not willing to hear anything on this issue that can’t be put in public.

    And in this forum, I’m only commenting on public information.

    The most I would do would be to invite everybody, including the two gentlemen you mentioned, to this forum.

    Do you think that would help?

  10. @Todd Wilken #37

    > How will the money will be spent? Most likely to keep the lights on at LCMS Inc. and perhaps (if any is left over) pay back some of the $15 million of borrowed designated gifts with which have been keeping LCMS Inc. afloat lately.

    From http://www.lcms.org/pages/rpage.asp?NavID=15650 (Aug. 29, 2009)
    (emphasis added)
    The action follows the recommendation of a task force appointed by the Board in early 2008 to study the role of KFUO-FM and KFUO-AM and the best use of those assets in the Synod’s mission. In November the task force recommended the sale of KFUO-FM, with a majority of the proceeds to be placed in a fund designated for “proactive ministry utilizing advanced media” such as video and audio streaming via the Internet or satellite radio to reach audiences beyond the St. Louis market.

  11. Miles,

    You wrote, “And in this forum, I’m only commenting on public information.”

    It still sounds like an excuse for not talking to Strand or Kuchta.

    You previously wrote, “it’s a bogus offer” and, “it is not at all clear that any substantial cash will be received for the station in the current plan” and, “didn’t the, uh, St. Louis arts ‘community’ offer eight million (possible real) dollars” (with a single phone call to Tom Kuchta you would have learned that they offered only $4 million).

    Upon what public information have you based these statements?

    Why do you feel free to speculate and imagine possible scenarios when you won’t call and ask for the truth?


  12. I wrote to Mr. Kuchta, inviting him to participate in this forum.

    He replied very quickly, stating that time does not permit him to respond to postings, that he would be pleased to answer any questions or discuss any items of concern, and that that I may quote him on anything we discuss.

    The fact that he responded to me at all, and in fact did so very quickly, and his willingness to talk and be quoted, set a commendable and appropriate standard for all other LCMS officers and directors.

    I am working on a list of questions.

    > call and ask for the truth

    I do want to point out that there is an essential difference between anything any person other than God says, no matter how high the person’s level of integrity, and ‘the truth’ of a complex situation. No individual person is aware of every aspect of any situation; there are things a person in an office cannot say, even if true; we constant err in matters large and small; and finally we are all liars.

  13. Miles,

    Your last paragraph sounds vaguely postmodern.

    There is no one better positioned to give you the truth than Tom Kuchta. You either accept the facts of the situation, or you continue to listen to those who will lie to save Classic 99.


  14. > sounds vaguely postmodern

    In my office of individual lay Lutheran, I reject modernism and postmodernism and believe the Holy Scriptures and those as explained in our Confessions. I reject any -ism that contradicts anything about those. You should accept that as the truth about me. I think you can find a reading of what I wrote that is literally true and is not postmodern.

  15. My point is: if you really want the truth, don’t hide behind statements like ” ‘the truth’ of a complex situation” or the fact that “No individual person is aware of every aspect of any situation.

    If you want the truth go to the most reliable sources and get what you can (the very thing press reports regarding the sale have failed to do).


  16. @Todd Wilken #66

    I understand, and I will talk with Mr. Kuchta. If he says the arts people offered $4, not $8 million, I will relay that. What I was talking about was the bottom line truth – should this KFUO FM deal go ahead or not. I think that is more complex than 8 versus 4, and involves value judgements. At this point I think I can disagree with that decision.

    If I’ve written anything wrong, I will clear it up here.

    Blessings in Jesus Christ.

  17. There appears to be a new article on KFUO FM by Sarah Bryan Miller, as of this morning (Jan. 28 2009). I found it by searching ‘Kieschnick’ on the stltoday.com site. I was looking for a letter to the paper by Rev. Kieschnick (which I have not found yet).

    I think any responses to it would get out to more people if posted back at that site, rather than posting only here.

    Here’s the link: http://www.stltoday.com/blogzone/culture-club/culture-club/2010/01/kfuolcms-outside-musicians-weigh-in/

  18. Todd Wilken :Miles,
    You wrote, “And in this forum, I’m only commenting on public information.”
    It still sounds like an excuse for not talking to Strand or Kuchta.
    You previously wrote, “it’s a bogus offer” and, “it is not at all clear that any substantial cash will be received for the station in the current plan” and, “didn’t the, uh, St. Louis arts ‘community’ offer eight million (possible real) dollars” (with a single phone call to Tom Kuchta you would have learned that they offered only $4 million).
    Upon what public information have you based these statements?
    Why do you feel free to speculate and imagine possible scenarios when you won’t call and ask for the truth?

    It seems Mr. Brashear was one source of the $8 million number:
    at http://stlouis.bizjournals.com/stlouis/stories/2009/10/05/daily20.html
    “Nobody made a real offer of more than $8 million except Joy FM,” he said.
    To be fair, the same article says Joy is paying $26 million.
    But it’s not necessarily lying nor believing a lie to think that there was an offer for $8 million.
    But again, it’s not all about money.

  19. Todd Wilken :
    …My sources say that Circle of Friends did make an offer– about 1/4 of Gateway’s. Please remember that the Post-Dispatch articles are written with the goal of thwarting the sale, and aren’t reporting the whole, accurate story.

    Mr. Wilken:

    After a long absence, I returned this evening to find you still banging the same tired drums.

    Your first statement is incomplete: the Radio Arts Foundation made a first offer of $4 million – and then came back with a higher one. However, they said, Mr. Brashear was unwilling to engage with them. Instead, as he himself told me (and sent me a copy of his “win-win-win” proposal), he tried to sell them Joy FM’s two rimshot stations, an HD channel, and “intellectual property,” for $5 million.

    Your second statement is a libel, pure and simple, and absolutely unworthy of someone who calls himself “Pastor.”

    I have never denied that, as the Post-Dispatch’s classical music critic, I have a point of view. I think we should continue to have a classical music station – well, duh. I don’t much care who owns it, as it happens, as long as we have that format on an easily accessible station.

    However, my point of view is not to be found in my news stories. I have not only presented both sides as completely as possible (it’s a little hard when no one but Kermit Brashear is permitted to speak for the LCMS side), but I have bent over backward to present Mr. Brashear’s views, in particular, as completely as possible. Even if I were inclined to write “with the goal of thwarting the sale,” there’s a platoon of editors who would not let that happen.

    There are several sides to this story, and yours was not handed down from Mount Sinai with the imprimatur of God’s Holy Truth. I examine carefully everything that’s sent to me on the subject, and, again, I understand why the LCMS needs to sell.

    Please rethink your strategy.

  20. @Sarah Bryan Miller #71

    > I understand why the LCMS needs to sell.

    I don’t agree.

    As a nonprofit corporation, the synod can ask for support from members.

    In this case, the members are the congregations and pastors.

    They are able to pass through any emergency plea for cash.

    I am told that the synod needs $15 million.

    This amounts to about $7 per church member.

    And anyway, why blame this problem on the radio station?

  21. @James #1

    > Podcasts, Twitter, and Facebook are the future.

    They are the present, actually.

    Wireless has not gone away. Look at the cell (actually PCS) phone market.

    Broadcast wireless (in this case 99.1 megahertz digital and analog) is an important part of the mix of delivery technologies. If you can draw a large enough user base (relative to costs) in the signal area, it is very cheap. Unlike the predominantly used Internet protocols being used, adding users to a broadcast stream does not increase direct costs. Its current sweet spot is delivery into cars and body-worn receivers. I listen to Internet radio in my car, but I don’t think most people are doing that yet.

    The immediacy of a live program radically distinguishes it from podcasting (radio time-shiftin — playing back recorded programs after the fact). All talk radio call-in shows are a great example of this difference.

    The production facilities for most Internet-only programming are very minimal compared to what has been built up for the traditional radio broadcast spectrum. So losing those facilities (not part of the Joy FM deal) would be — a loss. You won’t find many studios containing for example a grand piano in the Internet podcast world.

  22. @Todd Wilken #47

    > When a previous BCS tried to do so, they were strong-armed into reversing their decision by a highly placed conservative elected official at LCMS Inc.

    Who was that?

    This is the person I want to speak with.

  23. There’s new news. An FCC filing by “The Committee to Save KFUO FM” yesterday contains two sworn statements, one from attorney Robert Duesenberg and the other from STL media broker Robert Cox. Mr. Duesenberg states on pain of perjury that the decision to sell the station was made by the BOD on Feb. 19, 2009. Mr. Cox also says also under penalty of perjury that he contacted LCMS more than one time after Feb. 19 and before the Oct. sale announcement and was told the station was not for sale. Among other things Mr. Cox states that he “was advised by Mr. David L. Strand, that Radio Station KFUO FM was not for sale” in March 2009.

    Here’s the filing:


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