Thursday, March 20, 2008

Issues, Etc. and Something Else

As many people have heard and repeated, the very popular radio program Issues, Etc has been canceled. You can affix your name to a petition to protest this action. But before you get too carried away, there may be more to the story than theology.

Over the past few years, there have been calls from within the Synod to sell KFUO. Memorial and resolutions to that effect have been proposed during the last two synodical convention cycles. The rationale for the divesting of KFUO is that it is a drain on the synod's resources which could be more effectively used in other places "to reach the lost." However, there was one little problem with that reasoning -- a little show known as Issues, Etc. This little program has attracted a huge audience not only within the LCMS, but also trans-denominationally and world-wide. And from that audience has come huge revenues. Whoops! That means KFUO could make money and be profitable. So get rid of the money-maker and the sale can go through.

The dirty little secret is that the real value (I mean huge value) in KFUO is its license. Selling KFUO means selling its FCC license and airwave rights. A one-time selling price could generate a big whopping amount of cash for synodical bureaucrats to re-allocate funds to pet projects.

By shutting down
Issues, Etc., synodical officials will be able to prove that KFUO is a money-sucking black hole. The evidence will be presented to the next convention of synod. And with great sadness, the delegates will authorize the sale of KFUO. And the synodical officials will rejoice because those same delegates will allow the synodical officials to determine the best avenue to re-allocate those funds. [People in Wisconsin can just say 'light rail' or 'deep tunnel' and realize what will happen to the money. Or Alaskans will understand the bridge to no where.]

Yes, indeed, the loss of
Issues, Etc. will be great, but two resourceful men such as Pastor Wilkens and Jeff Schwartz will easily bring something better from their loss as the phoenix rises from its ashes. As we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord, let us pray that He will bring forth something far greater from the mis-guided decision of synodical bureaucrats. Let the bureaucrats go ABLAZE with the KFUO sell-off, we still have the Gospel in its purity and sweetness.

Personally, I think KFUO was a mill-stone around the creative neck of
Issues, Etc. And now the hundreds of congregations and thousands of people supporting Issues, Etc. can support a new project coming from these two gifted men.

Pastor Wilkens and Mr Schwartz, go for it.

Now, I'll go and sign the petition.


Anonymous said...

Isn't it amazing that KFUO is soliciting funds now, with the carrot dangling out there that a "generous donor" will give an additional $25000 if they can meet their donations from last year's shareathon.

Putting the best construction on it, they recognize their need for funds in the light of the cancellation of Issues. Of course, they will do whatever they can to keep KFUO on the air in light of the cards that they have been dealt.

However, my sinful mind has wandered from the best construction, but I don't want to lead others into my sin.

Regardless, it seems in poor taste to ask for money from people who have financially supported Issues in the past are grieving the loss of the show. Salt in the wound. Bad form!

Anonymous said...

Gary, this makes a lot of sense.

Anonymous said...


If you're right, I almost wish it were about theology.

Jaes said...

If cancelling Issues, Etc. was part of a plan to make selling the station license palatable, then I'd say it's definitely influenced by theology. That sort of plotting can only be rationalized by an appeal to the pragmatic, and only a flawed theology can support results-oriented behaviors like you've posited here.

Unfortunately, that sort of theology is spreading faster every day in all kinds of denominations, not just the LCMS...

Rev. Joel A. Brondos said...

Up until last July, I had been a member for 3 years of the Synod's Board for Communications Services which had oversight of KFUO (among other things).

If you are a member of the LCMS, you can probably request copies of the minutes from July 2006 to the present regarding KFUO. You might find some rather interesting threads to pull.

At one time, some estimated that the licenses were worth about $50-million. It has become much less desirable since then - I don't know what the current figures are, but it's guarded so as not potentially to drive the price down further.

There are some major accounting and management issues at KFUO.

And as far as theology (if you mean doctrine), when there isn't much interest in maintaining doctrinal purity, there is a great interest in raising financial "prosperity." In the LCMS, it seems to me, these two bear an indirect proportional relationship to one another. When interest in promoting doctrine wanes, the interest in raising money waxes. And the latter includes the proliferation of bureaucratic positions.

I am inclined to side with those who maintain that Dr. Kieschnick is bankrupting the synod both theologically and financially.

But this net effect of canceling Issues, Etc. isn't only the result of financial mismanagement or even theological dissipation. It's also the result of so-called conservatives who hold official positions in the synod refusing the opportunity to take decisive action about such things.

In any case, I believe it is now time to sell KFUO -- though at one time I had been in favor of keeping it and using it as the technological flagship of the synod for promoting the Gospel through electronic means. But now, KFUO does precious little in promoting substantively the Christian faith (and in some cases the management is opposed to promoting the Christian faith on the FM side of things). It is just another of the powers that be moving the LCMS into mainstream protestant evangelicalism. Sell it and move on.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Pastor Brondos for you frank and honest assessment of the situation. Lord have mercy!

dm42 said...

Perhaps, there is something we could do about this.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps we can at least determine when the demise of Issues Etc. was being discussed. Note the following item I found in the minutes from the most recent Board of Directors meeting:

During item 37, the "Board for Communication Services (BCS) Presentation," the board describes its greatest challenges as including, "ensuring effective, affordable impacts...promoting strategic staff development, and returning the LCMS to national prominence."

(A few paragraphs later, in the middle of the BCS report, the following then appears:)

As the BCS representatives prepared for the second part of their presentation, a report regarding KFUO radio, a motion “to move into executive session” was introduced and carried.
[37X. Executive Session III]
Following a motion “to move out of executive session” was carried, a prayer was offered on behalf of KFUO and the work of the Board for Communication Services. The board returned to the orders of the day.
Just thought these were interesting in light of the purging of the confessional remnant at KFUO.

As we now say in the LCMS, "Damn the Gospel, full speed ahead!"

Matthew said...

I'm a bit surprised at the short sightedness of our Synod Leadership. Getting rid of a valuable part of their arsenal with no replacements in sight. It's not just short sighted, it's just plain dumb.

What's got to happen is this kind of thing needs to never be able to happen again. Control of such programming needs to be rested from the powers that be, and placed in the hands of those who understand the new technologies and how to use them. I host a radio program here in Florida called 'Radical Grace', with the help of my pastor (we are LC-MS), we started off as a podcast about 9 months ago. Back in october we met someone from a local radio station, they wanted to talk to us, and the next thing we knew, we were on the air. We've worked hard to make the program as good as we possibly can.

Want to know what the inspiration was to do it? Take a wild guess... It starts with "I" and ends with "c". There are other influences obviously, but our Synod's history in Radio sure played a big part in this.

God has blessed us quite a bit in this venture. I hope what we're doing blesses everyone else as well.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Brondos nailed it! I worked in the IC. Conservatives Lutherans are purged often who want it to be too Lutheran.

Pastor Brondos made the point about how much KFUO is worth.. If I remember correctly, it is the FM side that is worth so much.

The license would bring in at least 30 million, which is down from the original talk of 50. The FM is in the middle of the dial and is the reason for the worth of the license!!!

Why don't they sell the FM and keep the a.m. and use funds to support things like Issues Etc.?

The FM station has no interest in gospel, it is only interested in the classical music - that is it!It has no theology on it at all.

Ablaze is ruining the church.

Rev. Joel A. Brondos said...

The Issues, Etc. debacle needs to be seen in light of the ENTIRE pogrom of Dr. Kieschnick's Ablaze! initiative. I have attempted to provide an multi-part analysis of this in my Kyrie Eleison blog:

Shall We Commend or Condemn? Introduction

Shall We Commend or Condemn? Part 1

Anonymous said...

Great comments. Just FYI. It's Todd WILKEN, not "Wilkins"