19 March 2008

Here's KFUO's "Explanation"

"For programmatic and business reasons, the decision was made this week to discontinue the "Issues, Etc." program on KFUO-AM. We look forward to bringing you new programming in this time slot in the near future. Also, we thank "Issues" host Rev. Todd Wilken and producer Mr. Jeff Schwarz for their years of service on behalf of the station. Those interested may still download past "Issues, Program Etc." programs from the "Issues" archive on this website. Thank you sincerely for your continued support of KFUO's radio ministry."

Passives allow you to avoid saying WHO did the action. Yes, we all know the decision "was made." What we want is the name of the man who made it.

We would also like an explanation instead of business-babble - WHAT are the "programmatic and business reasons"?

In this, Synodical "trust us" hooey ain't gonna cut it, guys! We want you to own up to WHO did it AND WHY.


Scott said...

That's escapist language for we aren't going to reveal our sources because you will pounce all over it. If I had a few million dollars lying around I would buy a station, hire Rev. Wilken and Jeff Schwarz (that is if they don't mind moving to a new city) and give them carte blanche rule over their program.

The Synod will never give us a "true" reason for their actions here because they don't feel they have to.

Putting this statement out there absolves them of taking true responsibility for breaking the hearts of thousands of fans and supporters of Issues. They are afraid of the kind of backlash that happened after Yankee Stadium and so we can probably kiss any chance of having the show reinstated.

Brian D. said...

Will, for what it's worth, (and I mentioned this in a previous post of yours) but I talked with Tim Townsend, StL Post-Dispatch religion reporter, and he is aware of this and is hoping to get some news coverage on the story asap. He said this story is certainly on his radar.

William Weedon said...


I did catch that. Thanks! I sure hope they give it some publicity.

Anonymous said...

What a load of garbage.

Issues, etc. was THE top show on KFUO AM and produced the most revenue and had the largest listening audience of any programming that AM band does.

Plus, it was the only LCMS national media effort, period!

Idiots all.

Dan @ Necessary Roughness said...

Let's run that through the disgronificator:

(whirrs and noises)

"We restored the archives and hope you aren't incredibly ticked off. Please keep your donations coming like nothing ever happened."

Dave Armstrong said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shazam said...

I am disappointed that the powers that be have taken this route in explaining the discontinuation of the Issues Etc. program. The smiling, conciliatory, language only makes me angry. If you are planning to sell the radio station then come out and say so. If you believe that the content of the program does not fit with goals of the LCMS because it is too confrontational, then say so. In every possible way we should be transparent in our dealings with each other and to the world. The way that this was handled and the resulting explanation is simply beyond comprehension. Issues Etc. is the only program that is actually confronting some of the very difficult issues in Christianity today from a Biblically Christian and Lutheran perspective. Someone, somewhere, should have to answer for this but I do not see that happening. The timing of all this taking place is also suspect. In the case of most LC-MS pastors we are too busy during Holy Week to make much of a stink.

Anonymous said...

I would agree with the "programmatic" part of the statement since IE wasn't pulling the party line. The "business" part doesn't make sense. Since IE was the most popular and financially strong part of KFUO, the accountants weren't making this call.

Also, one doesn't just stop this type of program. What is the financial obligation of the Sunday night stations that carry the national program? The MBA in me, as well as the accountant in me, tells me that the math doesn't add up.

If the listeners of IE stop their contributions, what will that do to KFUO's finances?

Shazam said...

I looked up the BOD minutes from February at the advice of another person interested in this situation and this is what I found.

"He also reviewed the current financial statements of the Synod, calling particular attention to radio station KFUO’s financial performance, which has improved significantly, and to other agencies where significant differences from budget exist, explaining shortages and how they are expected to be resolved. The Synod currently holds proximately $8 million in excess cash, primarily unspent tsunami relief funds,providing opportunity to invest cash on a more favorable basis."

It appears that it was not financial matters that drove this decision but programatic. Here again is another statement.

Secretary Raymond Hartwig, the Board’s liaison member on the KFUO Radio Committee, called attention to his report printed in his Secretary’s Report to the Board. He again noted that the financial picture for KFUO has improved measurably, with the AM station operating in the black to a small extent and the FM station operating in the black to a much larger extent. He reported that the KFUO Radio Committee is working on the comprehensive report requested by the Board for Communication Services and due April 1.

There is something else going on with this decision and it seems that Issue Etc did not fit with the goals of someone or some people somewhere.

Now I am angry.

Ryan said...

As regards the phrase "The Decision Was Made" I don't think KFUO could have done much better considering that all signs point to this decision being made "Above their heads." They were probably forbidden to say who made the decision, and unwilling to take th blame for a decision they did not make.

What else is KFUO supposed to say if they had no say in it to begin with?

I know it's a miserable statement, but from what I've heard, I don't think KFUO is in a position to say much else. Its entirely possible that even the people at KFUO don't know much else, but simply had to do what they were told.

Again, this is all conjecture at best, and should be taken as such.

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi Pastor Weedon,

I hope you are well and having a blessed Holy Week.

I don't know a thing about the show, but obviously this is an upsetting decision to many Lutherans, and it seems (to an outside observer) to be an unfair and unjust move, or (if justified at all) done in a low-class manner.

Was this show considered to be particularly "evangelical" or "confessional", so that someone of another party in the LCMS felt that it gave a wrong impression of Lutheranism? No one seems to know. Would that be a plausible hypothesis, though?

WM Cwirla said...

The pressure on the lcms institutional machinery should be relentless and grinding, like the making of a diamond. Hopefully, the Board of Directors will conduct a full and thorough investigation. As Luther reminded us, snakes slither in the darkness, the Spirit of God operates in the light of day. (I paraphrase, don't make me look it up.)

X said...

Would starting a petition be of any use?

WM Cwirla said...

The statement from KFUO is a classic example of "weaselese" - a peculiar form of the language spoken by bureaucrats. For a comprehensive treatment of weaselese, see http://www.weaselwords.com.au/index3.htm

Click on the "religion" section and enjoy the laugh.

Randy Asburry said...

If I may respond to pphifer, who said: "Someone, somewhere, should have to answer for this but I do not see that happening."

Don't worry, someone or someones *will* have to answer for this - if not here in time and via genuine repentance, then certainly before the Lord on the Last Day. Everything will be revealed sooner or later, and especially on the Last Day. The Lord Jesus has this all in His hands!

Anonymous said...

Oh, yes, Pastor Randy, and so let's just all stick our heads up out collective posteriors and think happy thoughts!

No, now is the time to join the battle, stop spouting platitudes and DO SOMETHING.


Get the Synod's administration unelected and get the right people in the right places.

Time to man up people!

William Weedon said...

I would also suggest that now is not the time to be anonymous.

William Weedon said...


Issues, Etc. simply provided a Lutheran perspective engaged in conversation about numerous issues of the day - and I mean numerous. I couldn't begin to keep up with everything they covered. But if it was news, they talked about it. And if it touched on the Kingdom of God, they talked about it. I don't see how any Lutheran could be offended by the show. But I could see how those who would like the Lutheran Church to look like all the evangelicals and charismatics and such, could be upset with it.

WM Cwirla said...

Cancel that Board of Directors comment of mine (vide supra). Time for a regime change.

X said...

I'm totally serious.


Anonymous said...

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

What does this mean?

The good and gracious will of God is done indeed without our prayer; but we pray in this petition that it may be done among us also.

How is this done?

When God breaks and hinders every evil counsel and will which would not let us hallow the name of God nor let His kingdom come, such as the will of the devil, the world, and our flesh; but strengthens and keeps us steadfast in His Word and in faith unto our end. This is His gracious and good will.

Dave Armstrong said...

Thanks much.

So one of the conflicts in LCMS is confessional (traditional) Lutheranism vs. an "evangelicalism" that is less distinctively Lutheran and relatively less doctrinal? Is that correct? And the show fell into the former category and the current leadership tends to be in the latter?

If that is an accurate assessment, it looks almost like the conflicts in Anglicanism among the four or five major parties in the 19th century.

X said...

Dave Armstrong. Long time no see. I know you through Craig K.

Dave Armstrong said...

Craig K? Huh? I can only think of one person of that name. Have we met in person before? Looks like you wanna be real anonymous, so to find out who you are, I guess you'd have to send a personal e-mail. Not to worry. I won't tell!

Anonymous said...

In the history of mankkind, how many charges into battle have been led by Anonymous? Give me a break!
Also, I sincerely believe that nothing will change if we rely upon the laity. Few of us know what is going on. This battle must be led by our pastors. I just don't believe anyone will listen to us. Sorry, but that's the way it seems to me. The confessional pastors must find leverage and use it.

X said...

Dave, I can't figure out how to email you from your blog. It's SO busy that I can't find your email address. You can get me at oxh973 at gmail • com

I THINK I may have been at your house once about 15 years ago.

William Weedon said...


You know, a petition with names on it - it might be a great thing that could be presented to the Synod. Give us our Issues back!

Dave Armstrong said...

Okay. I just dropped you a line.

My e-mail address is at the bottom of my sidebar.

Rev. Paul Beisel said...

ACtually, I was thinking of apublic demonstration outside of the palatial courts of the Purple Palace. Why not have someone organize a all out "march" on Synodical headquarters down in St. Louie? I'd go. I'm only 3 hrs. away.

pcdwhit said...

I have written to the powers that be at KFUO as well as Mister Strand (again) asking, as a (now former) financial supporter of KFUO for the specific programming and business reasons.

People may also wish to consider writing to the Witness (kinda ironic that THEY just killed an excellent witness to the nation) and Reporter.

Anonymous said...


Reply #114

SJB said...

This has truly been a dismal couple of days. Personally, I cannot find a way to put a good construction on this situation in the LCMS. It's like trying to put a best construction on the rape of a child; there is none. I will be glad when we can all get through this reactionary phase and find constructive ways to address the loss of Issues Etc.

In my mind, IE was a rallying point for many confessionals of all flavors and an oasis from the plethora of evangelical crud that permeates the majority of the Christian media and that sadly has demanded a loud voice in the LCMS. I hope that as time progresses, we can use Issues as a rallying point and can find some good solutions on how to bring Issues, Todd, and Jeff back to KFUO or to fund them somewhere else. I wish I had some good ideas to offer, but I don't at this point.

Randy Asburry said...

Someone hiding behind the name "Anonymous" said: "Oh, yes, Pastor Randy, and so let's just all stick our heads up out collective posteriors and think happy thoughts!"

1. That's not what I've been saying, if you'll check your emotions at the door for a minute.

2. What I've been suggesting is that we do exactly what Issues, Etc. has always done: keep our theology at the forefront and Christ at the center.

3. I'm somehow missing how it is "manning up" by hiding behind "Anonymous." Not to mention, let's not make each other "the enemy" here!

Unknown said...

I am not surprised at this statement. Don't the synodical officials know how much this political double-speak hurts the Church both in its life together and witness to the world. I just wish that they would come and say why they got rid of a program that was doing what Ablaze(tm) is supposed to be encouraging us to do. By the way, if it was finicial reasons then why didn't they hold a fundraiser. My wife is the Executive Director of a not for profit organization, and this is what they do before they just pull the plug. Some people don't give until they are given an ultimatium (First use of the Law). Give or Issues,etc is gone. Well, I am praying for Pastor Wilken and Mr. Schwarz. I am glad that the archives are back.

Chris said...

I actually was able to talk to a REAL person at the LCMS questions area. She said that there would be a replacement with an "alternative" selection (i.e. a more "synodically approved one"). When I asked her politely, "what does that actually MEAN politically," she somewhat stammered and said she couldn't really say because she didn't know. I then was able to leave some comments for the staff. I left something to the effect of, "many non-Lutherans are aggrivated by this decision and are not looking too favorably at us now...I hope the reason was worth it." Of course, we all know how bad businesses are at cost-benefit studies. Ah for the time when at least we could be burned as heretics for opposing the church hierarchy.

I agree to not post anything during the Moratorium for Maunday Thursday to Easter Sunday...we should all fast, pray, and focus on Christ and the heart of the Gospel.

Anonymous said...

I plan on honoring the moratorium.

Here are some things to think about:

Are we on the verge of post-synodical Lutheranism (man I hope so)?

As far as the business decision and budget - ask these questions - alot:

Why would the most listened-to program produced by KFUO-AM be the first budget cut of 2008 at KFUO?

Why was Issues, Etc. the only KFUO-produced program required to and capable of raising its own funds?

Why was Issues, Etc. the only KFUO-produced program that generated major underwriters like Concordia Seminary-St. Louis, Concordia Theological Seminary-Fort Wayne, Concordia Publishing House and LCMS World Relief?

Why not first cancel the more expensive Sunday night nationally, syndicated edition of Issues, Etc. and continue to do the three-hour weekday local broadcast of Issues, Etc.?

In addition to KFUO-AM, KFUO-FM is also in the red. How many employees were terminated at Classic 99?

If both operations are losing money, why not make budget cuts at the management level?

Of the more than 20 full-time employees at KFUO, why cut the only full-time Pastor on staff?

Does the LCMS Treasurer think that KFUO’s financial woes are the result of Issues, Etc.?


Lutheran Lucciola said...

Some one on the WT just posted their forwarded letter from their district president. Is anyone getting this also? Here it is:

"Dear LCMS District Presidents:

Holy Week greetings in Christ, our Lord.

Some of you may be receiving calls on the discontinuation of the "Issues, Etc." radio program on KFUO-AM. You may be wondering how to respond to such calls.

While this was a programmatic and business decision, it also touches on matters of employment and human resources. Because of this, there is very little that can appropriately be said by way of "explanation" or "reasons" for this decision.

I would respectfully suggest that you direct callers or e-mailers to the Synod's Church Information Center (1-888-THE LCMS, or infocenter@lcms.org), whose staff is equipped to handle such calls. There also is a brief statement on the KFUO-AM website at www.kfuo.org

Some have asked if the "Issues, Etc." archive, containing past, downloadable episodes of the show, is still available. It is. People just need to go to the AM website.

Thank you. Lord's blessings for a Happy Easter.


I love how reasons and explanations are quoted. Kinda weird.

Anonymous said...

Open Letter to Mr. Strand.

Dear Mr. Strand:

I found this explanation on the KFUO website as to why Issue Etc. was canceled. Quite frankly this leaves much to be desired, as it opens up more questions than it answers. I am trying to give the officials of the synod the benefit of the doubt so please clarify:
For programmatic and business reasons, the decision was made
this week to discontinue the "Issues, Etc." program on KFUO-AM.
We look forward to bringing you new programming in this time slot
in the near future. Also, we thank "Issues" host Rev. Todd Wilken
and producer Mr. Jeff Schwarz for their years of service on behalf
of the station. Those interested may still download past "Issues,
Program Etc." programs from the "Issues" archive on this website.
Thank you sincerely for your continued support of KFUO's radio ministry

1. "For programmatic and business reasons"

What, pray tell, is the programmatic and business reasons? First of all Issues Etc was the most listened to program on the station, and was the only program with big dollar underwriter's such as both seminaries of the synod and Concordia Publishing House. How is this a sound business decision? As far as "programmatic", can you explain what this is? Issues Etc. was clearly our most in depth program that focused on apologetics, theology, and church history that we had; it was also a true expression of confessional Lutheranism. Has a decision been made to replace it with something not as confessional?

2."the decision was made this week to discontinue the "Issues, Etc." program on KFUO-AM"

Can you give me the names of the person or persons who made that decision so that I might contact them directly?

3."We look forward to bringing you new programming in this time slot in the near future"

This quite frankly makes me wonder why it was decided to terminate the show immediately if you were not ready to go with something that was already prepared. I find this highly problematic. Could you clarify this?

4." Also, we thank "Issues" host Rev. Todd Wilken and producer Mr. Jeff Schwarz for their years of service on behalf of the station."

I don't think it was an appropriate expression of Christian love to have fired these men without
warning or explanation the Tuesday before Easter. Please tell me why this was so urgent so that I may not misjudge the issue.

5."Those interested may still download past "Issues, Program Etc." programs from the "Issues" archive on this website"

At first this wasn't the case. All of the archives were removed from KFUOAM.ORG website and the Issues Etc website is still gone. This leaves me to believe that it was first decided to try to erase any and all traces of Issues Etc. from the LCMS but someone, or a group of persons, bowed to the pressure that listeners were putting on them to bring the show back in a half hearted gesture to appease us and make us go away. Please tell me if I am wrong and also who made the decision to take down the archives originally and why.
Thank you very much Sir and I hope who ever made these decisions will be moved to see their error and return Issues Etc to its regular time slots with Rev. Wilken and Mr. Schwarrz at the helm and that you will answer the questions I have asked. To be fair I will post your reply anywhere I
personally publish this letter on the internet.

Thank you,
William E. Sinkhorn

Anonymous said...

As the great thinker John Blutarsky, aka Bluto, once said "Don't get mad, get even". While I'm not advocating revenge, I have come to conclusion that IE can never be on KFUO again even if they try to bring it back. If they tried to remove once, they'll try again and will look for any reason. The best solution is to create an independent IE what is webcasting for the weekday and a national program on the weekend.

IE must remain independent of the LCMS' control given recent events.

Anonymous said...

Yup, another anonymous. Sorry, but I'm not ready yet to get squashed.

Here's my thing - IE was a very important source for a lot of people. I think we should find a way to resurrect it somewhere else.

Some questions to consider:
Does the LCMS own the copyright? Do they own the intellectual property?
Can it be obtained from them?
Todd Wilken is a pastor, was he "called" to his position at KFUO? If so, can he then be fired, as he was?
Why are the boys not talking (Todd & Jeff, I mean)? Could it be that they are under a "gag" order ("gag-order" - legalese for blackmail) in order to keep whatever severance pay they were afforded?
Who "ordered" them fired & the show discontinued? It wasn't the decision of the radio station - was it the board of communication, or was it higher?

You know folks, there has been a schism in the LCMS for some time. This is just fuel for the fire that widens that schism. At some point, those that have stayed the same in their beliefs since the first split, will themselves, have to split away. That's a sad thought, but maybe that's where our Lord is leading us.

I'm done rambling.

Blessings to all, and keep us all in your prayers.

Nate said...

Reverend Weedon,
If memory serves correctly, Jeff is one of your parishoners. How is his family, are you in contact with pastor Wilken? My family is in prayer for both. Give Jeff and Todd my regards. Tell Jeff, I haven't had the heart to tell my five year old the sad news, and that nate from austin says hello. I saw somewhere you were raising funds for both families. Can you give the mailing Info.

Barry O'Connell said...

Pastor Weedon,
You are a pretty solid Theologian. I hope in the Issues mess you are a voice of reason. I had a chat last night with President Kieschnick and I was heartened by his tone. We did not agree on much but he was listening.
A few interesting points came out in the talk; He insisted that the cancellation was not his decision but he admitted that he knew in advance. It was also clear that he had no idea of the impact the show had here in Pa. or around the world. He referred to KFUO as a primarily Saint Louis station. I explained that while the LCMS is a big deal in Saint Louis but out here in Pa people who know the LCMS often know it through Issues. I mentioned in the Congregations where I have visited 10% to 20 % of the congregation listen and many of the new members came in through Issues. I urged him to get the numbers of the station and iTunes downloads. I argued that Issues is one of the most effective outreaches of the LCMS and one of the few ways that the synod effectively executes the great commission. It is apparent that we need to stop looking for conspiracies and spend our time educating the LCMS Leadership.
By the way as a regular listener and frequent caller I have been blessed by your Godly words many times.
Best wishes,
Barry O'Connell

Anonymous said...

This humble servant would like to say that this is ALMOST the worst decision that SYNOD could have made. But wait, lets look at the actions closer. IF the program, by the Grace of God, is restored, most everyone could say "this is what I wanted all along". However if the program stays off the air, then they can say "it was his idea". It would seem to me that this is a classical WIN-WIN case.

However, if we TRUE LUTHERANS continue to press this issue until there is no hiding and the truth comes out someone will face the music. I must remind myself that God is in control and that this is under His plan. May He, in His time work all this for His good.