A Couple of Links

Happy Mother’s Day, indeed.  Happy Mother’s Day to my mother and my wife.

I didn’t know that Dr. Nagel (Professor Emeritus at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis) was writing for CT.  That’s a joke, but do yourself a favor and listen to any or all of these mp3s in the “Issues, Etc.” archives.  Nagel deserves to be the most influential Lutheran theologian going now.  (Of course, he couldn’t care less about such a designation, but he has a knack for cutting to the heart of any question and hitting bedrock for the sake of the comfort of salvation.)


Some Links

Here’s LifeNews on “Issues.” And make sure you don’t miss Augsburg 1530, which seems to be the clearinghouse for all things “Issues.”

Still nothing from the Post-Dispatch, at least online, even though the Religion editor told me that they were “on it.”

And is it just me, or are environmentalists getting stupider ideas all the time? “Earth Hour”? Are you joking? My favorite part of the story was:

The number of participants was not immediately available, but organizers were hoping to beat last year’s debut, when 2.2 million people and more than 2,000 businesses shut off lights and appliances, resulting in a 10.2 percent reduction in carbon emissions during that hour.

Seriously? A whole 10.2 percent! Sorry; whom did that help? And, by the way, when did the World Wrestling Federation get into stopping carbon emissions?

Finally, I commend to you the Reverend Joel Brondos’ blog. We were comrades on the old World Mag Blog site, and he’s still got great stuff. Wish I had found his (relatively) new blog before this.


Pres. Kieschnick Responds to Mollie Hemingway

You can read the whole letter here. Why is everything a commercial for Ablaze*&%^!? Why not use some of that money to promote the Gospel of Christ on the radio, as Issues, Etc. had done? Why was (is) its continuation placed solely on the backs of those who listen? It looks neat written in official releases and letters to the editor, but when you think about it, it just doesn’t add up. 1 + 1 does not equal 3, no matter how vigorously the news is spread.

Listeners of “Issues, Etc.” have had nine years and countless invitations and opportunities to support the program financially, and some have, but not nearly enough to offset the show’s deep, ongoing losses.

Admittedly, some of the (as of now) 6150 signatures on the petition (including me) could have done more. But where was the announcement that Issues was in such dire financial straits? And where was the urgent appeal by the President or the Chairman of the Board for Communications for contributions to make sure it didn’t go away? Nearly all public or non-profit radio stations make continuous appeals for support. Since when do those “countless invitations and opportunities” add up to a no-warning lights out?

No, money is an easy answer, but if everyone had known that this was a likely consequence of a shortage of funds, money would have surely come in. And so many people would not have been so shocked.

It makes no sense, and the answers that have been coming forth have not been very forthcoming. Does anyone else have the urge to tell the Synodical officials to put the shovels down and stop digging their hole deeper?

Curiouser and curiouser: Money?  What money?

[More on “peace, peace” when there is no peace here.]


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]