27 March 2008

Some Questions that Arise

from Dr. Erich Heidenreich:

Is the revenue generated by Issues, Etc. underwriters, church sponsors, ALL Reformation Club income and Bott Radio Network contributions included in Issues, Etc.’s total revenue figure?

Why were the host and the producer made responsible for a $3.5 million loss since 2001 and not KFUO management?

You have given statitistics for people listening live on the web. Why have you failed to release the on-demand listening statistics? How does the on-demand listenership of Issues, Etc. compare to the on-demand listenership of other KFUO produced programs in the past year?

The official responsibility for raising financial support for KFUO lies with the LCMS Foundation. Is it true that LCMS Foundation President Tom Ries was strongly critical of Issues, Etc.’s on-air editorial positions, specifically its public critique of popular televangelist Joel Osteen?

What was the total listenership for the weekly nationally, syndicated edition of Issues, Etc.?

How many grant proposals were written for Issues, Etc. compared to other proposals for KFUO-AM and KFUO-FM?

Why was Issues, Etc. the only KFUO-produced program required to raise and account for its own funds?

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

Why cancel all of Issues, Etc.? 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.?

Why not make cuts at top-level, higher-paid management at KFUO?

Why were the audio archives of Issues, Etc. initially removed? This doesn't cost KFUO any salaries and benefits?

Why fire the only Lutheran Pastor on staff, of the more than 20 full-time employees at KFUO?

Does the LCMS Treasurer, Tom Kuchta, think that Issues, Etc. was the cause of KFUO’s financial woes?

Does KFUO management think that Issues, Etc. was the cause of KFUO’s financial woes?

Why cancel the show just as it was launching a major development initiative (Issues, Etc. 300)? This campaign had the potential to eliminate the entire fiscal year deficit for KFUO-AM.


Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

Thanks, Pr. Weedon. For the record, I sent these to David Strand. If I ever get a response, I'll post it here.

Anonymous said...

There is one other large feature we are missing here: Let's say that Mr. Strand is accurate about the deficit of Issues, Etc. Since when is evangelism supposed to make a profit? I thought that was the point of having Issues Etc. in the Synodical budget - to do mission work. It solicits funds from the listeners so it can do mission work. To cut it because it does not make a profit is to completely ignore the purpose of the show and the radio station. How many Ablaze! efforts turn a profit? Do we cut funds to them because they do not? Where is this in the Biblical mandate for missions?

William Weedon said...

Very good question. Another might be about the FM funds. Was the Synod making money on the FM side, and if so, how much, and wasn't it supposed to support the Gospel outreach of the AM side?

Christopher Esget said...

Thanks, Pastor Weedon, for staying on top of this for us.

Pr. David Gallas said...

Good point Jon!
If we ran our congregational VBS' like a business, we'd have to cancel them all because they are not profitable. Let's face it: Mission work costs money! Seemingly the decision to cancel Issues, Etc. was about which of the church's mission endevours is a priority and which isn't. Issues, Etc. didn't make the cut. How utterly sad!

Anonymous said...

Another question for David Strand:

Why wasn't the Issues Etc. listening community told about the finacial problems? If the management had been saying, "contribute more or Issues Etc. will go away", I would be more understanding of the show being cancelled.

On another note, I have twice called the LCMS Donate Now line and and asked when I can expect to receive a partial refund for my yearly contribution to Issues Etc. For the past two years I have made a end of the year contribution for the upcoming year. The way I see it, I made a yearly contribution for something that was only on the air 3 months of 2008, they owe me a 3/4 refund. Unfortunately, they take my name and number and tell me they will "have to check on this and get back to me." I'm still waiting...

Anonymous said...

First of all thanks for all the information on this. I for one wasn't really even aware of the program until a few weeks ago so I didn't get a chance to listen. However I don't see how anyone could make such a decision and then try to justify it using outdated and partial "audience" information. And to cancel the only program that had underwriting and a fundraising plan in place??

If Mr. Strand is going to stand on audit information, is that information available to be verified?

Perhaps a silver lining (if there is such a thing) is that this injustice will cause congregations and church members like me take notice of what is apparently a huge divide - and take an honest look at what it means to be an LCMS Lutheran.

Ok end of ramble.

Anonymous said...

I think the big thing is that we probably will not get Issues Etc back on KFUO and maybe we don't want too. However, with the outpouring of support for Issues, Etc, maybe we should be starting to look for something that goes independent or some kind of other avenue. Thus far, we have 5,000 people who have signed the petition and if everyone gave $100, we would have enough to do a similar Issues, Etc and then some.

This would take a lot of work, but if we truly believe it is important to have something like Issues, Etc, we need to step up and do something.

What are in the plans? Would either one of them be interested in even taking something like this on?

Lutheran Lucciola said...

Having some interest in commercial radio myself, I would like to second Eric's questions above.

I personally feel like Mr. Strand's letter uses a bit of the "bait and switch" method, or at least the switch part, for sure.

One cannot switch between complete "arbitron" type based ratings, and mission work. And even at that, the method Mr. Strand uses for ratings here is not completely accurate. I do not see a solid argument here, at all.

This recent letter from Mr. Strand has left me wishing for a complete clean-out of a few LCMS positions. But that's my opinion.

Past Elder said...

It's my opinion too, Lucciola!

Absent answers to the questions the Tooth Fairy raises -- just having fun, I call my own dentist that -- the official statement sounds like numbers assembled to support a prior decision rather than a decision based on numbers.

Not unexpected from a corporation but not what one would expect from the church.

Michael Paul 白霈德牧師 said...

Thank you very much for doing your "homework" and taking the time to post the information, thoughts, etc. here, Dr. Heidenreich and Pastor Weedon. Your efforts save the majority of us much time tracking down data and doing thoughtful "processing" of it (though not that we shouldn't be thinking either!)

Anonymous said...

Here is another question.
Who allowed Rev. Jeff Wilkins to produce the following on-air commercial?

Did you know that the total budget for the nationally syndicated edition of Issues ETC is approximately $300,000. We are looking for three hundred congregations of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod to pledge $1000 to Issues Etc. Just look for the LCMS logo on our home page issuesetc.org to find out how your congregation can help support the worldwide outreach of Issues etc. Help us reach our goal of 300 church pledges of $1000, issuesetc.org"

From the second hour of the March 11th, 2008 episode.
The advertisement aired from 24min33sec-25min03sec

Mr. Strand stated in his letter that "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." As an individual, I sent in $1000 the last two years. Did Issues ETC support amount to only 49 other congregations or individuals? Was Rev. Wilken not telling the truth? Is so, why was he permitted to air this commercial? The facts dont seem to add up.

Anonymous said...

Another number missing from the equation of issues revenue is the book sales at CHP as a result of exposure on the program.

In the online petition, I noticed several pastors said Issues was partially responsible for them going to Seminary. What is the recruiter's bonus?