The Post-Dispatch on the Protest at the International Center

Here‘s the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on the protest against the removal of “Issues, Etc.” I don’t know what, if anything, was accomplished, but perhaps it will show that this “issue” will not go away. Pastoral Conferences are sending overtures to their district conventions, and, presumably, some of those will be sent on to the Synodical Convention. We shall see.

My favorite part of the story is this: ” On Sunday, 200 ‘Issues, Etc.’ supporters gathered at Emmaus Lutheran Church in St. Louis to pray and eat bratwurst.” These guys are Norwegian, right?

Then, there’s this:

[David] Strand would not say whether the church was considering a sale of its stations. He pointed out that the 7,000 signatures make up one-third of 1 percent of the church body.

In the vacated time slot, the church has launched a new program called “The Afternoon Show,” with topics Strand said should have a broader appeal.

7,000? That’s nothing. Negligible, apparently. My question is, what number would make up a large enough percentage of the Missouri Synod’s congregational membership to merit action? “Broader appeal.” Yeah, like the congregations taking every distinctly Lutheran aspect out in order to appeal more broadly. Like downplaying the power of the Gospel and the Sacraments in favor of watered-down Law and absent Gospel. Like giving us only feel-good ephemerality rather than the substantial theology of the Church in general and the Lutheran Confessions in particular. Well, Mr. Strand is correct. Watering it all down will have a broader appeal. People have itching ears and the more we can scratch them satisfactorily, the more they’ll come back. The Truth has a disconcerting habit of not only uniting those who hear the Good Shepherd’s voice (everyone who is of the truth listens to My voice), but also dividing inevitably those who refuse to hear the truth. That’s just the way it is. The only question to be asked is whether we, as a church body, are selling a product or proclaiming the Gospel. All the talk about bottom lines and finances has me leaning toward an unsavory conclusion. When it comes to evangelism, are we all ablaze! with talk, or will we actually support those endeavors where the Gospel is preached? The fact that the question occurs to me probably provides its own answer.


Reasons for Cancellation of “Issues” (For What It’s Worth)

You make the call.

March 27, 2008

Dear Christian Friend:

Last week the decision was made to discontinue the “Issues, Etc.” program on KFUO-AM Radio, a ministry owned and operated by The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). A brief statement was posted soon after on KFUO-AM’s website citing programmatic and stewardship (business) reasons for this decision.

Following the discontinuation of the program, some KFUO-AM listeners asked for more information as to why “Issues, Etc.” had been ended. Detailed reasons are not usually provided when making program changes, and I intend to continue our policy and practice not to publicly discuss specific personnel matters. However, I do want to provide additional information regarding some of the significant challenges we faced prior to the discontinuation of the program and to respond to the inquiries of those who were particularly fond and appreciative of “Issues, Etc.”

In fiscal year 2007-08, KFUO-AM’s operating deficit was $620,698. Since 2001, the accumulated deficits at the station have been in excess of $3.5 million. The LCMS budget, entrusted to our care by members of our Synod’s congregations, has absorbed these shortfalls for years. After long and prayerful consideration, it became clear that measures had to be taken to stop the ongoing, staggering losses.

Although some are under the impression that “Issues, Etc.” was profitable and self-supporting, the fact is the program lost approximately $250,000 in the last fiscal year. While airing for only 18 percent of KFUO-AM’s programming week, “Issues” accounted for more than 40 percent of the station’s total deficit. These figures are based on the audited financial statements of the LCMS.

Over the years, every effort has been made to cut expenses at KFUO-AM. At the same time, particularly in the past year, extraordinary measures were taken to bolster the financial support of the station. A sizable portion of those efforts focused on assisting “Issues, Etc.,” the most costly program on the AM schedule. Unfortunately, these measures have not solved the problem. As of February 29th, two-thirds into the current fiscal year, KFUO-AM was on pace to suffer heavy losses again.

Some may also be under a misapprehension about the size of the “Issues” audience. In 2005, station management decided it could no longer justify paying for expensive ratings reports in light of the predictably low and static nature of KFUO-AM’s audience numbers. At the time, a blending of the spring 2004 and spring 2005 “books” showed an average listening audience during the “Issues” Monday-Friday timeslot of 1,650. There is no indication these numbers have grown appreciably since.

As for the audio streaming of “Issues, Etc.” via the Internet, the numbers are similarly low. During the last full month (February 2008) for which we have reports, the average number of live, streaming listeners during the “Issues” Monday-Friday timeslot was 64.

On Sunday nights, when the first hour of “Issues” was syndicated in a number of markets (an opportunity for which, during the past fiscal year, the LCMS actually paid $66,000 in broadcast fees), and where the second hour was available only on the Internet, the peak number of online listeners on the KFUO stream was 39.

Sadly, very difficult financial conditions sometimes require decisions that are not popular among all affected. In the case of KFUO-AM, the time had come when good stewardship of the church’s funds required a decision that meaningfully curtailed the deep, ongoing losses at the station. Ending the costs associated with “Issues, Etc.” was the only viable option, and the decision to do this was prayerfully and contemplatively made.

I am sorry that those who enjoyed “Issues” are disappointed, but I have made the show’s archives available, and I respectfully hope that all listeners will support the ongoing radio ministry of our beloved Synod.

Sincerely in Christ,

David L. Strand
Executive Director
Board for Communication Services

[via Pr. Petersen and Pr. Peregoy]


E-Mail from Mr. Strand

Recall my e-mail:

I am sure your e-mail box is filling up with questions and demands.

I, too, am waiting for an official answer about why this show has been canceled. It was the show on KFUO AM. I and many others will be waiting for an answer. Rumors should not be allowed to run rampant because there is no official response.

I want to know why they’re letting rumors run rampant. Surely it would be better to clear up the whole thing since people are saying Very Bad Things about the Synod. Right? Right…? Hmm.

Dear [Timotheos]:

Thank you for your e-mail. We are sorry for your disappointment over the change in KFUO-AM programming. However, we hope you will enjoy our future programs.
Sincerely in Christ,

David L. Strand
Executive Director
Board for Communication Services
The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod

Keep waiting.  Who else got “carbon” copies?


More on “Issues”

Read Chaz on the Schwarzes; here are more links via Josh Schroeder; it’s on the Boar’s Head Tavern.

Here’s my e-mail to David Strand:

I am sure your e-mail box is filling up with questions and demands.

I, too, am waiting for an official answer about why this show has been canceled.  It was the show on KFUO AM.  I and many others will be waiting for an answer.  Rumors should not be allowed to run rampant because there is no official response.



Issues, Etc. Gone (Updated)

If you are outside the Lutheran blogosphere or other means of Missouri Synod communication, you may not have heard that the KFUO program “Issues, Etc” has been canceled, and its host, Todd Wilken, and producer, Jeff Schwarz, were fired. There is no other information given.

If you are concerned about this, call the LCMS International Center (888-THE-LCMS [843-5267]) and ask to be transferred to the Board for Communications to register your disapproval. This is a significant loss to the Missouri Synod, to all Confessional Lutherans, and to the world at large. Many people have come to better understand Lutheranism or even be converted because of this program. Perhaps the outcry will reach the ears of those in charge so that this disastrous decision can be reversed. (apparently, the website for KFUO-AM has crashed; I’m guessing it’s because of a massive attempt to download old Issues, Etc. broadcasts)

The Wittenberg Trail has set up a PayPal account for Todd Wilken and Jeff Schwarz, who are jobless:

A message to all members of The Wittenberg Trail

The Wittenberg Trail is organizing a drive to offer financial support to Pastor Wilken, Jeff Schwarz and their families during this difficult time.

The WT has a secure Pay Pal account set up. Please indicate “Wilken/Schwarz” in the donation comment section.

Please log into the Wittenberg Trail and click on the “Donate” button on the right side of the screen.

Visit The Wittenberg Trail at:

More from WT:

A message to all members of The Wittenberg Trail

Today’s a black day in the LCMS.

Today the Synod ordered the cancellation of the popular radio show Issues, Etc. without stating a reason why, and terminated the employment of Pastor Todd Wilken, the show’s host, and Mr. Jeff Schwarz, the show’s producer.

If you can get into the archives and save MP3 files of the show ASAP.

The person who made the decision to cancel Issues, Etc. was Mr. David Strand, Executive Director of the Board for Communication Services.

Here is Mr. Strand’s contact information:

David L. Strand
Executive Director
Board for Communication
314) 996-1200

If you care enough, you might cease support for KFUO-AM until they restore the program, its host, and its producer.

More from Necessary Roughness, Pr. Weedon, The Minnesota Lutheran, Outer Rim Territories, Lane’s Blog, Hoc Est Verum, Rapp Files, Putting Out the Fire, Northwoods Lutherans, and On the Wittenberg Trail. No doubt there are and will be more. Feel free to post more links in the comments.

*New* And, sign the petition.