By Joe Isenhower Jr.
The Synod’s Board of Directors (BOD) and the Board for Communication Services (BCS) have agreed that the BOD will continue to manage Synod-owned St. Louis radio stations KFUO-AM and FM “on an interim basis.”
Management of the radio stations has been a point of contention between the two boards since early 2003. Executives for both boards say that now is resolved.
The two boards met together Sept. 20. After the joint meeting, the BCS voted to ask the Board of Directors to continue to manage KFUO on an interim basis through its KFUO Radio Committee, appointed last year by the BOD to work with the stations, and that two BCS members be added to the committee as “advisory representatives.” The BOD subsequently concurred with the BCS request.
The BCS met Sept. 19-20; the BOD met Sept. 20-21.
During its meeting, the BCS also asked that by April 1, the KFUO Radio Committee prepare a report and recommend actions dealing with KFUO finances, staffing and programming. The board also voted to ask its former chairman, Dr. Martin Schramm, to withdraw two questions he had asked regarding KFUO management in an Aug. 11 fax to the Commission on Constitutional Matters (CCM).
Schramm sent an e-mail to CCM Acting Chairman Albert Marcis on Sept. 29 saying that he had decided to withdraw those questions.
Five of the seven members of the BCS were appointed in May by the Board of Directors and took office last month. The two other BCS members are elected by the Synod convention to six-year terms. There was no election this year.
“Both boards agree that their contention over the management and supervision of KFUO was resolved with the passage of Res. 7-02A by the Synod convention this summer and with the BCS requesting that the BOD continue its management of KFUO through April 2005,” said BCS Executive Director J. Thomas Lapacka.
In passing the resolution, the convention amended the church body’s Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws to limit the “management authority and duties” of the Board of Directors and to clarify the role of the Commission on Constitutional Matters (CCM). That action also overturned two resolutions adopted last year by the BOD saying that eight CCM opinions were “of no effect.”
One of those CCM opinions indicated that the BOD did not have the authority to reverse a 1986 convention action delegating responsibility for KFUO to the BCS if that responsibility is not voluntarily relinquished.
The BOD in early 2003 voted to assume management of KFUO, saying that the BCS had “shared serious financial concerns regarding KFUO-AM and FM that threaten their ability to continue in their present level of performance.”
“The BOD took that action believing that the BCS had voluntarily relinquished responsibility in the interest of protecting this valuable asset of the Synod,” said Synod Secretary Raymond Hartwig.
“It is now clear to the BCS that the solution to the financial challenges facing KFUO is going to have to be worked out with the BOD,” said Lapacka. “That’s a major factor in its decision to request the BOD to continue to manage KFUO on an interim basis.
“Also, the current makeup of the BCS is largely new,” Lapacka said. “It needs time to study the KFUO issue.”
“I do think this is a peaceful resolution of what had been a point of conflict,” Dr. Tom Kuchta, the Synod’s interim chief administrative officer and vice president-finance/treasurer, said after the Board of Directors meeting.
Kuchta noted in the Board meeting that KFUO’s cumulative operating deficits stand at $1.4 million, “with most of that deficit occurring in the last three years.”
“KFUO is heavily dependent on contributions to fund its operations,” Kuchta told Reporter. “While the station management and staff have done a marvelous job holding costs to a minimum, the station is heavily dependent on gifts to fund that operation, and the gifts just haven’t been generated.”
He said that KFUO management “is continuing to work with the LCMS Foundation to generate sufficient income for KFUO to operate in the black.”
Hartwig, who is the BOD liaison with the KFUO Radio Committee, said that an independent study of the station’s development potential this year concluded “that funding opportunities exist that, if properly addressed, can supply sufficient resources to build a sustainable financial future for this treasure of our church.”
Hartwig said that there was “clear evidence” of that potential when representatives of Skystone Ryan, the independent consulting organization that conducted the study for the station, talked with “randomly selected listeners” earlier this year.
The study was funded by a grant from the Marvin M. Schwan Charitable Foundation.
During its meeting, the BOD voted to send a letter of thanks to that foundation for its “generous support” for the Synod over the years. Figures prepared for the recent Board meeting indicate that since 1998, the Schwan foundation has given grants totaling more than $42 million to the corporate Synod — not counting Synod-related entities and groups such as Recognized Service Organizations, which also have received grants from the foundation.
Other than its half-day joint meeting with the communications board, most of the BOD meeting was devoted to organizing for the next three years.
The Board elected officers for the triennium — Dr. Robert T. Kuhn, Oviedo, Fla., chairman; Rev. James E. Fandrey, Elgin, Ill., vice chairman; and Christian A. Preus, Plymouth, Minn., member at-large of the executive committee.
The board selected five to serve as members-at-large for the Lutheran Church Extension Fund. They are Warren Puck, Manning, Iowa; James Bode, College Park, Ga.; Ernie Heinecke, Olive Branch, Miss.; John Edson, Plymouth, Minn.; and Vic Bryant, St. Louis.
The directors chose five members to form a committee “to look closely at the issue of ongoing legal counsel for the Synod,” Hartwig said, “to gather information, including the possibility of retaining in-house counsel,” and to report to the next meeting of the Board, in November. He said that study “was begun three years ago, but has never been completed.”
Hartwig said the BOD “reviews its legal-counsel arrangement at the beginning of each triennium.”
Serving on that committee are Hartwig, Kuchta, Preus, Rev. Victor Belton and David Hawk.
The Board plans to interview candidates for chief administrative officer (CAO) Oct. 11-12 in St. Louis. The position has