Family Stations, which owns and operates a network of Christian radio stations under the branding Family Radio, is in the midst of completing another sale of a station in its network. Last week the FCC granted the assignment of WFTI 91.7 FM in St. Petersburg, Florida to another religious broadcaster, Radio Training Network. Family Radio will receive $2.5 million for the sale. Radio Training Network plans to use the station as an outlet for the Christian contemporary music format The Joy FM, which is aired on their other stations throughout Florida. Radio Training Network owns 19 radio stations in Georgia, Missouri, South Carolina, Florida, North Carolina, Alabama and has permits for two other stations.
This sale is the latest in a series of sales of other major Family Radio stations. Most recently, Family Stations is awaiting FCC approval for the assignment of powerful WFME 94.7 FM in Newark, New Jersey to NY Radio Assets (an affiliate of Cumulus). As part of the pending asset exchange agreement, Family Stations would be paid $40 million and will acquire the license for WDVY 106.3 FM in Mount Kisco, New York (currently a country music station) from Cumulus Broadcasting. Additional stipulations in the agreement allow for the possibility that Family Stations could be paid up to $10 million more if Cumulus relocates WFME to the New York City area.
Earlier this year, the sale of WKDN 106.9 FM in the Philadelphia area to Merlin Media garnered $22.5 million for Family Radio and the sale of WFSI 107.9 FM in Maryland to CBS earned the network $8.5 million.
An announcement by Family Radio President Harold Camping posted on the Family Radio website explains the financial struggles being faced by the network and also references Family Radio’s reluctance to ask for listener donations in light of the big campaign leading up to the uneventful Judgment Day on May 21, 2011. Camping writes:
“The decision to sell WFME-FM was very painful and difficult. However, God provided no other option. Either we sell WFME or go off the air completely. We held off on this decision for over a year, hoping God would provide other means of solving this present financial situation. Some may ask, why did we not inform our listeners of our situation sooner? My answer to this is that, given the present state of the economy, and the sacrifices many gave for the May 21 warning, it would not be kind nor proper to ask our listeners to dig deeper into their already-depleted pockets for more help.
Rather, a more prudent path is to begin to live within the means God has provided by reducing our operational costs. Secondly, by restructuring our operations, Family Radio will be strengthened and better able to provide our listeners with what we all long for — the comfort of God’s Word and the peace that faithful music can bring.
To do this, each station will have to be examined to see whether there are sufficient means to continue to broadcast our programming on it. So, needless to say, other stations may be affected in the near future, but our hope and goal is to keep as many stations on the air as God provides.”
Although there’s much chatter about the latest end of the world predictions based on the Mayan calendar, Family Radio’s website gives no indication that the network is concerned with selecting a date for the world’s demise ever again. Back in March, Camping stated that, “Family Radio has no interest in even considering another date. God has humbled us through the events of May 21, to continue to even more fervently search the Scriptures (the Bible), not to find dates, but to be more faithful in our understanding.”