A tale of Two Synods?

When radio station KFUO AM was founded in 1924, the call letters stood for “Keep Forward, Upward, Onward.” But that was back in the days of our grandfathers’ synod.

What do those call letters stand for today?

KFUO AM recently held its annual on-air fundraiser “Share-a-thon 2010.” At the same time, the boys over at Issues, Etc. were broadcasting “Issues, Etc. 24,” their live, 24 hours of Issues, Etc. Bible studies.

Listening a little to both proved to be a study in contrast.

Issues, Etc. 24 was in-depth Bible study with guests like Arthur Just, John Kleinig, Scott Murray and Bill Cwirla. KFUO AM‘s Share-a-thon consisted of mostly contemporary Christian praise music.

Issues, Etc. 24 was exactly what you’d expect from Lutheran radio: strong theologians and biblical content with a break every half-hour to ask for the listeners’ support. KFUO played several songs, broke for 5 or 6 minutes of mostly mindless banter and appeals for support, then returned to the praise music.

Issues, Etc. 24 reflected the very best of confessional Lutheran theology –something for which many of us in the LCMS are longing.

KFUO’s Share-a-thon reflected the “vision” of Lutheranism promoted by the current synodical leadership, especially by our current synodical president –a vision light on theology and heavy on corporate image.

What do the letters KFUO stand for today? Perhaps “Kieschnick, Forward, Upward, Onward”?


Comments

A tale of Two Synods? — 70 Comments

  1. Todd Wilken :
    Miles,
    This has nothing to do with the style of the music (that only matters to classical music aficionados); it is the content of the music.
    TW

    TW,
    It certainly has to do with both the style and the content. There are rhythms that are inappropriate, to say the least. There are atonal and deliberately ugly chords and progressions. There are rhythms and tunes that are locally associated with heresy, cults, paganism and all kinds of evil.
    Thanks.

  2. @Todd Wilken #47

    Are you telling us that the manager of the station has a stronger drive, a better strategy, and more power to expand heterodoxy in our Lutheran synod than the top guns do? True, the station started doing this way back in 1992 and all through the Barry administration. In fact it started with the Barry administration and spread to KFUO, then to the unsuspecting current administration. But it definitely is KFUO’s fault. It is all KFUO’s fault.

    Of course, it is impossible to do anything about the station management.

    Check.

    The station must be sold! (For nothing, but it has to go).

  3. >Other problems: I believe there’s a relative lack of LutheranCCM.<

    I know this is off subject somewhat, but Pr Wilken you are correct. There is VERY LITTLE availabilty of any LCCM. It kind of seems like confessional Lutheranism and LCCM would NOT go together, but outside of the Divine Service there is room for some good theologically sound "modern" Lutheran music.

    Are any of you familiar with the church band Koine out of a WELS church in Milwaukee… I have ALL their albums of hymns that are performed in a "contemporary" flair (and LOVE the music outside of the DS)
    http://www.koinemusic.com

    Please forgive me straying from the subject of the post.

  4. Miles and Kansas Lutheran,

    I honestly don’t know if you two are being serious or sarcastic. In either case, you’re not making much sense.

    TW

  5. Miles,

    Although your latest comments are simply confusing, one question you ask does warrant an answer.

    You asked facetiously, “Are you telling us that the manager of the station has a stronger drive, a better strategy, and more power to expand heterodoxy in our Lutheran synod than the top guns do?”

    Answer: No, obviously not. However, Chuck Rathert is the program director at KFUO AM. He initiated the CCM programming at KFUO AM in 1992. Just ask him, he’s quite proud of the fact.

    He will also tell you that no one has forced him to do it. It was, and is his idea. Again, just ask him.

    TW

  6. @Todd Wilken #54

    Mine was mostly sarcasm, and if not well received, I am sorry.

    It does seem to me that the synod is starving / neglecting KFUO.

    And I don’t see how that could be a good thing.

    And piling on KFUO here seems not at all sporting.

    And I’m a little worried about what seems to be a change in your attitude about the AM station. In the FM debate, your attitude about the secure status of the AM station seemed a lot more certain.

    The finances of the synod are not your fault, nor in my opinion your responsibility. I don’t accept the bad finances as a reason or excuse to get rid of ANY irreplaceable assets. Period. Nor should you. Let them make it up out of their own pockets. Which a lawsuit could provide for …

    And I am not at all sure that KFUO’s current format of CCM + serious spoken word is bad. I do think it’s quite a shame that the RC station sounds a lot more like a church owned station sometimes …

    Of course I could not agree more that the music should be screened doctrinally by our pastors. Even if so, accidents happen and station management seems open and responsive to reports of problems, in my recent experience.

  7. @Todd Wilken #55

    > He initiated the CCM programming at KFUO AM in 1992. Just ask him, he’s quite proud of the fact.

    Understand. And not sure it’s totally bad. I imagine one claim would be that the station is doing what its listeners want. Just in my observation, Pastor Hawkinson makes exemplary use of ‘contemporary’ music and always frames it in a way that one will have a hard time drawing false doctrine out of it. So, it can be done.

    I see unrelenting criticism of the station here, and I believe I am seeing neglect, diffidence and a pattern of disposing of radio stations from the top. And I’m not happy about that.

  8. Pastor Wilken,

    When you are confused about something, as you apparently are about my serious natured post, you need not be critical of the post and denegrate it by claiming it makes no sense.
    That’s a simple copout, much the same as G. Kieschnick’s “I know nothing about the sale of KFUO-FM.”

    I was sticking to the topic of the blog and responding on what it asked about the call letters, pointing out that if the column is the standard by which we must be followers, it appears “all must be critical of KFUO” for playing CCM during a fundraising effort and/or not being stuck in 1959 with its programming.
    Perhaps it just won’t make sense to YOU that someone can defend the theology presented on KFUO in 2010 simply because you are not there providing that theology.

    Again — I was sticking to the topic in my above post. I did not say anything senseless, although perhaps it was confusing you. For that, I’m sorry you’re confused. I am not sorry I posted my response, nor am I going to apologize for the tone I am taking in this post. You were critical and due a critical response.

    I counter with the question to both Ms. Hemingway and Pastor Wilken:

    Are you going to outright say that KFUO has no redeeming qualities left in its programming?

    Also, if not with a Shar-a-thon, how would you propose KFUO raise funds to continue its confessional Lutheran theology?

  9. Kansas Lutheran,

    What made no sense was your statement: “If you are successful in making KFUO go away…

    Neither I nor Mollie have even suggested “making KFUO AM go away.” She simply questioned the wall-to-wall CCM programming during their Share-a-thon, and I tried to provide some context from my experience there.

    In that vien you ask, “Are you going to outright say that KFUO has no redeeming qualities left in its programming?” No. Nor have I or Mollie even suggested that. Please read the post and our comments more carefully.

    KFUO AM’s programming is theologically schizophrenic. Where else can you hear the founder of Jesus First and Charlie Henrickson, Pentecostal praise music and Martin Noland all in the same day?

    TW

  10. One more story for context on the CCM at KFUO AM:

    Shortly after coming to KFUO I noticed that KFUO broadcasts later in the evening during the summer months. I thought, why not use that extra hour or so after live programming to broadcast some hymns and classical sacred music? We could call it “Summertime Sacred Music.” It would only be an hour or so, and would only be on in the Summer months.

    I took the idea to Chuck Rathert, the program director for KFUO AM, even volunteering to sync the necessary musical selections into the automation system.

    He refused. His reason? He said that we couldn’t broadcast hymns and classical sacred music (even for an hour a day, for a couple months a year) because the more “Lutheran” listeners might like it, demand more of it, and perhaps complain about the praise music during the rest of the program day.

    True story.

    I think it’s safe to say the President Kieschnick is satisfied with the kind of radio Dennis Stortz and Chuck Rathert are producing at KFUO AM.

    TW

  11. @Todd Wilken #59

    > KFUO AM’s programming is theologically schizophrenic.

    They’re reflecting the synod. I’m sure you agree.

    How do you blame KFUO, owned by the synod, for that?

    There were things you might have said on-air about various things, while you were there, that you could not and did not. You were bound by your relationship to the synod as an employee. Your own defense of yourself relies on the fact that you were careful what you said and did not say. So you understand.

    Our point is that the negative headlines on KFUO are devaluing an asset that could be used for good, in case the synod turns around. This is also true of the FM station.

  12. Miles,

    You ask, “How do you blame KFUO, owned by the synod, for that?”

    Because, as I have said at least three times now, the program content of KFUO AM is determined in-house. The music, the topics, the guests are all selected in-house.

    If KFUO AM’s programming reflects the Kieschnick “vision” of the LCMS (theologically schizophrenia), it is because the in-house management at KFUO programs the station that way.

    TW

  13. @Todd Wilken #60

    I think your programming idea was wonderful.

    I do think there is some unfortunate inconsistency in the synod right now, but I am not sure it’s impossible to mix valid CCM with the other good content we have.

    I hope Pres. Kieschnick is pleased with Martin Noland, Charles Henrickson and others including you (though I have not heard you on KFUO lately). Somehow I got the idea he wasn’t. If he heartily approves of their entire ministries and is actively and positively promoting their ministries for Godly advancement (the opposite direction from CRM, for example) in the MO synod, I’ll change my mind about that.

  14. @Todd Wilken #60

    > I think it’s safe to say the President Kieschnick is satisfied with the kind of radio Dennis Stortz and Chuck Rathert are producing at KFUO AM.

    Overall, I’m positive on it myself. Go KFUO!

    (though as mentioned the station has had ups and downs these last 85 years)

    What do you think would happen to KFUO employees if they weighed in here?

  15. Miles,

    You asked, “What do you think would happen to KFUO employees if they weighed in here?”

    I suspect at least one already is.

    TW

  16. @Todd Wilken #60

    > I think it’s safe to say the President Kieschnick is satisfied with the kind of radio Dennis Stortz and Chuck Rathert are producing at KFUO AM.

    I disagree vehemently. I think the synod and the station are being bled dry by this administration. I think everything is for sale, eventually.

  17. Todd Wilken :
    Miles,
    You ask, “How do you blame KFUO, owned by the synod, for that?”
    Because, as I have said at least three times now, the program content of KFUO AM is determined in-house. The music, the topics, the guests are all selected in-house.
    If KFUO AM’s programming reflects the Kieschnick “vision” of the LCMS (theologically schizophrenia), it is because the in-house management at KFUO programs the station that way.
    TW

    Rev. Wilken,

    Because Mollie’s post and most (well, some at least) of the subsequent comments are about the motives behind KFUO-AM’s move away from orthodox Lutheran programming, and you are bold to name names, I have an odd questions:

    Can you share the name of the congregation Mr. Rathert attends?

    I suspect it is either a very (Saddleback-style) Church Growth-driven body which favors contemporary Christian praise music and ‘dynamic, life-changing worship’ over the liturgy, or one where the power brokers of Synod gather to worship and plan strategy. Because where a favored brand of worship is pushed, the underlying theology is then reflected in a person’s choices and actions of daily life.

  18. Concerned,

    To the best of my knowledge, Chuck is a member of Trinity Lutheran in Edwardsville, IL –where he plays in the praise band during the 10:30 contemporary service.

    TW

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