Last week there were reports that Family Radio‘s 50-year-old “Open Forum” program was being cancelled in light of Family Radio founder Harold Camping’s recent stroke on June 9th. In recent months, the religious network’s call-in talk show has been a vehicle for discussions about the predicted May 21, 2011 “Judgment Day” and Rapture.
When I contacted Family Radio last week I was told that the show was not being cancelled and that, instead, previously recorded episodes of the call-in talk show “Open Forum” would be aired on Family Radio.
A statement on Family Radio’s website dated June 21 says, “Mr. Camping has been moved to a Skilled Nursing Facility, where he is undergoing rehabilitation to regain his strength. Mr. and Mrs. Camping greatly appreciate all the cards, letters and flowers they have received, as well as your continuing thoughts and prayers. God has been very merciful.”
When listening to Family Radio this week, a pre-recorded message aired prior to “Open Forum.” The announcement alluded to rumors about the program’s future and stated that during Harold Camping’s rehabilitation, no new episodes would air. It said that the program will resume when he is able to once again host the show and answer listener questions live on the air.
This week Family Radio has been airing episodes of “Open Forum” that were recorded in the weeks following May 21. As you might recall, Camping made a premature goodbye to his “Open Forum” listeners on May 19th, as he expected that it would be his final show since “Judgment Day” and the Rapture were scheduled for May 21. When Judgment Day didn’t pan out as planned, Camping was back on the air for a special “Open Forum” on May 23rd in which he entertained questions from the press and explained that Judgment Day had in fact happened on May 21, but that it had been a spiritual event. He reassured everyone that the end of the world would still occur on October 21, 2011. Between May 24 and June 9, live episodes of Open Forum resumed over Family Radio and following Camping’s June 9th stroke, repeats of the program have aired.
According to a recorded announcement heard on Family Radio yesterday:
“Take a little bit of truth. Mix it with rumors, the media and the Internet and zap, you have a lot of wrong information. A woman called distressed because we were said to be changing our format. Another heard that we were taking features off. Not so, friends.
For example, the hour and a half slot for Open Forum, it’s still ready to go in our program automation. While Mr. Camping is in rehabilitation, we’ll need to insert programming: some teaching, some music, some Bible reading. When Mr. Camping is capable to take calls again, Open Forum will return. Yes, we continue to strive to provide programming that teaches, comforts and challenges. All with the hope of making you consider what you believe and why you believe it. So, don’t listen to too many of the rumors and do remember to pray for us often. Thank you.”
When Family Radio completes its run of post-May 21, 2011 “Open Forum” episodes (today they will air a show recorded on June 2nd), it’s uncertain what programming they will be airing in its place, but it’s clear from their on-air announcement that Family Radio does not perceive the show to have been cancelled.