Thinking Out Loud

May 7, 2016

The K-LOVE Pledge Drive

K-LOVE

When Grove City College Psychology Professor Warren Throckmorton reports on Mark Driscoll’s troubles or Gospel for Asia’s financial situation we link to it. But when he talks about K-LOVE it gets personal; we listen to that station in our car on a regular basis. So I was surprised on Thursday night to discover I was arriving to this nearly a week late, though I got the payoff of being able to also read the 50+ comments that followed. (Click the title below to read at source.) What follows are the highlights. If you’ve heard the station but don’t know much about the parent organization, you might want to pause to check out this Wikipedia article on the Educational Media Foundation.

Warren ThrockmortonK-LOVE’s Pledge Drive: Money Behind the Music

The Christian radio empire K-LOVE (complete list of stations) is in the middle of their Spring Pledge Drive. To be blunt, the constant solicitations are annoying.

After hearing a claim recently that K-LOVE’s CEO Mike Novak’s salary is over half a million dollars, I decided to do some exploration of K-LOVE’s finances. K-LOVE is one of two radio enterprises run by Educational Media Foundation (Air One is the other). Because EMF is a non-profit, their finances are available via their 990 form. The organization is quite large and took in just over $152-million during 2014.

Concerning the salary claim, it is true that CEO Mike Novak got a hefty sum of $531,256 in 2014. Numerous employees, including one of the DJs got over $200k in compensation. K-LOVE pushes an “easy” giving level of $40/month on the air and their website. It takes 1,107 people making that monthly pledge just to pay Novak’s salary. By comparison, the executive director of Doctors Without Borders, Sophie Delaunay, got just over $160k for running an organization that took in twice what K-LOVE received in donations.

K-LOVE also spent $267,463 on “pledge drive coaching.” The return on investment was phenomenal in 2014 in that they raised over $32-million attributed to the effort.   [emphasis added]

Then follows some screenshots and a discussion of compensation of board members. On the subject of compensation he added in the comments:

Having said that, I am sure you can find non-profits CEOs who get more. My point in posting the info was to alert donors that K-LOVE won’t close down if some widow on a fixed income fails to give $40/month.

More transparency in the actual appeals would be refreshing. “We need your easy monthly $40 gift because we have a heap of debt and we are wanting to aggressively expand into areas which already have Christian radio stations. We need your contribution to help push local Christian stations out of the market.”

But it was this conclusion that really got to me:

K-LOVE’s net revenue over expenses for 2014 was over $64-million. At $40/month, that means 133,761 donors could have given their money elsewhere and K-LOVE would have covered operational expenses. While it clearly takes lots of money to run a high quality media operation, it may come as a surprise to donors who sacrificially give $40/month that K-LOVE is doing quite well financially.

I am not saying that K-LOVE is doing anything wrong (although I think they could make it more clear that staff board members are handsomely paid). My intent is simply to provide potential donors with information that is not provided by K-LOVE. It may be that your local church or food pantry needs that money more than this mega-station.  [emphasis added]

Again, in the comments he repeated:

…I just want people to know that if they are considering their local church or KLOVE, the church probably needs it more.

While I don’t want to get into the reader comments, this one from FormerCCMRadioPerson gets back to the heart of what Christian radio is all about.

The huge difference between EMF (KLOVE’s Parent Network) and other networks is that they [KLOVE] own tons of signals, but only have 3 different Formats.

EMF runs the nearly-same feed of KLOVE, Air1, and Radio Nueva Nida on their vast network of signals. So if you hear that a local long-time Christian radio station is selling their station [to] KLOVE, that means the local DJs (and other local workers) just dropped to zero. No local presence. No local weather, ads, connections with churches, outreaches, whatever. It costs precious little to keep those EMF stations on the air. If KLOVE starts up a signal in rural Montana it’s the exact same thing that they’re listening to in Chicago, Miami, and Fairbanks.

Also inflating EMF’s claims is the vast amounts of “translator” stations they run. These are tiny FM repeaters with a 5-15 mile radius that are far easier to license, and they take virtually nothing to maintain compared to their full-powered signals. Many of those KLOVE signals (and Air1) are translators — some of which are owned by IHeartRadio (aka “Clear Channel”) through an arrangement.

None of this is to say that a CEO deserves more or less, but it does mean that EMF/KLOVE’s uniformity makes it far different from comparable companies like Clear Channel or CBS.  [emphasis added]

Again, click the article’s title next to Warren’s picture to read this at source with all the comments.

 

3 Comments »

  1. I’m sure this isn’t terribly “value-adding,” but I’m glad I clicked the link to Throckmorton’s original article! I was worried when you wrote there were graphic images. I don’t know why I was thinking something gruesome and couldn’t figure out what that would have to do with the article.

    It certainly is a Monday.

    Comment by Matthew — May 9, 2016 @ 1:45 pm

    • I changed “graphic images” to “screenshots.” Let me explain.

      The challenge here was that I wanted to incorporate a lot of Warren’s Throckmorton’s article without simply re-blogging the whole thing. By jumping in and out of the text I hoped it would leave many still wanting to click through and read it at source, thus sending him some traffic.

      My hope here, and at Christianity 201, is always that people will see a website or blog they’ve never seen before, bookmark it, and return often to check out new content.

      On the other hand, with the article that posted today (5/9/16) there was a need for multiple-source reporting, but it took me 3 hours and didn’t begin to scratch the surface.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — May 9, 2016 @ 2:49 pm

  2. I just read the actual article he wrote. Perhaps he changed it because your words are different then the article. I have a particular concern myself about K- Love and pledge drive. After two weeks of listening to them begging for money and slightly manipulating people to donate money so they can enter to win a vacation in addition, I am very much now drawn away from K- Love. I looked at their salary reports on glass door salaries and they receive hefty bonuses and then they say 100 percent of donations stay with K-Love. While there is nothing inherently wrong with This, I am afraid that after listening to two weeks of pledge drive new believers and unbelievers will get annoyed and it will turn people away. This station is relatively new in New England and replaced Positive 99.9 fm who had a one week pledge drive.

    Comment by Kay — October 14, 2016 @ 7:19 pm


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