Twice a year, Christian radio giant Educational Media Foundation (K-LOVE and Air-One) conducts a pledge drive. For about a week, the on-air personalities beg for pledges to “keep your K-LOVE on the air.” During the most recent pledge drive, I called, wrote, tweeted, and Facebook messaged K-LOVE in order to find out the pledge drive goal. How much money was K-LOVE trying to raise?
Despite my efforts, I never got an answer. K-LOVE’s Facebook contact referred me to CEO Mike Novak who never answered. The customer service representatives said they didn’t know. It is hard for me to believe that donors parted with their money without information about how much K-LOVE needs and why.
It Is a Big Number
After I wrote about the lack of transparency, some sources who are in a position to know contacted me to tell me that the goals for 2017 were in the neighborhood of $30-million per drive, give or take a million.
K-LOVE had a surplus of over $60-million in 2016 on revenues of $170-million. Just before the last pledge drive, the mega-station purchased three stations for $58-million which is about the same amount as was pledged by donors during the 2017 pledge drives. Looks like those $40/month EZ gifts are buying new stations more so than keeping current K-LOVE stations on the air.
K-LOVE purchased several other new stations in 2017. The expansion of the organization is made possible by twice yearly pledge drives where listeners are told that their local station may go away if the listeners don’t become donors. I suppose K-LOVE could yank a station but it wouldn’t be because K-LOVE doesn’t have money. It would be because the listeners in a coverage area fail to meet a quota not disclosed to them. Nasty business, this nonprofit Christian radio business.New markets mean new listeners, which mean new donors, which mean more money for more stations. Eventually, when all the stations are purchased, they will have to do something else.
I have some ideas.
New Expansion Ideas for K-LOVE
K-LOVE Streaming Worship – No need for a musically trained or spiritually prepared worship band. Just stream K-LOVE’s worship sets into your church on Sunday mornings. Put the music videos on the big screen if you want. Your worship team could lip sync for extra fun and even have lip sync competitions in seeker friendly churches. The full package would let you stream the worship set for all services including youth group.
K-LOVE Church – With nearly so many stations already owned by K-LOVE, they need to find something else religious to buy. How about churches?
At my age, I have heard about everything I need to hear in a sermon so it would be good with me if we just sing or listen to music and commentary the whole time. Most other people aren’t listening anyway. K-LOVE could just buy up churches and let the on-air personalities tell heart warming stories and play tunes. It would be much more entertaining and much less convicting. With many church goers/listeners already giving to K-LOVE instead of paying bills or giving to their churches anyway, it seems like a natural move on so many levels.
K-LOVE University – As a college professor, this is especially near to my heart. On-air banter and contemporary Christian music are so deep and rich with theological insights that the airwaves provide a natural delivery system for theological education. Given how Christian leaders already creatively use honorary degrees as if they were actual degree programs, why not give academic credentials for listening to the radio? Think of the size of the student body! K-LOVE University would instantly be the largest university on the planet with millions of students eager to exchange their EZ tuition for EZ credits.
Well, those are my ideas, kids. How about you? Have any suggestions for what K-LOVE can do with their millions?