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.