Mollie Hemingway: Radio Silence

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Broadcast from the nation's oldest continuously run religious radio station, KFUO-AM in St. Louis, and syndicated throughout the country, "Issues, Etc." had an even larger audience world-wide, thanks to its podcast's devoted following. With 14 hours of fresh programming each week, the show was on the leading edge of what's happening in culture, politics and broader church life. The Rev. Todd Wilken interviewed the brightest lights from across the theological spectrum on news of the day. Guests included Oxford University's Dr. Alister McGrath, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary's Albert Mohler and more postmodern types, like Tony Jones, national coordinator for a church network called Emergent Village.

On its last show, on March 17, listeners learned about the life and faith of St. Patrick; scientific and philosophical arguments in defense of the human embryo; the excommunication of two Roman Catholic women who claimed ordination; and the controversy surrounding the sermons of Barack Obama's pastor, Jeremiah Wright.

Despite the show's popularity, low cost and loyal donor base, Mr. Wilken and Jeff Schwarz, the producer of "Issues, Etc.," were dismissed without explanation on Tuesday of Holy Week. Within hours, the program's Web site -- which provided access to past episodes and issues of its magazine -- had disappeared. Indeed, all evidence that the show ever existed was removed.

So what happened? Initially, the bureaucrats in St. Louis kept a strict silence, claiming that the show had been canceled for "business and programmatic" reasons. Yesterday the synod cited low local ratings in the St. Louis area and the low number of listeners to the live audio stream on the Web site. But the last time the synod tracked the size of the audience was three years ago, and it did not take into account the show's syndicated or podcast following. The synod also claimed that the show lost $250,000 a year, an assertion that is at odds with those of others familiar with the operating budget of the station.

The Rev. Michael Kumm, who served on three management committees for the station, said that the explanation doesn't add up.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMediaReligion & Culture

Posted March 28, 2008 at 9:44 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Harry Edmon wrote:

As a member of the LCMS I find this very sad.  Many of us hope that the current President will retire after his term ends in 2010 and that we can elect someone who is orthodox in doctrine AND practice.

March 28, 12:27 pm | [comment link]
2. magnolia wrote:

i love that…‘pop-culture Christianity’! we should place that on bumperstickers with the ECUSA symbol.

March 28, 12:43 pm | [comment link]
3. Chris Hathaway wrote:

This new emergent “Christianity” doesn’t sound very inclusive or tolerant, tolerant, that is, of criticism of it. I wouldn’t wait for this President to retire. History has shown that these bureaucrats tend to restructure the politics so that traditionalist counterrevolutionaries can’t easily take back control.

Slightly edited.


March 28, 1:40 pm | [comment link]
4. evan miller wrote:

I want my grandfather’s (Episcopal) church back too!

March 28, 1:43 pm | [comment link]
5. Oldman wrote:

Go for it Magnolia! I would love a bumper sticker like that to drive around my town and make such a TEC announcement.

It saddens me so much to see the TEC abandon the Glorious Anglican Christian message found in the wonderful Hymn, “Jesus Lives!”

March 28, 1:49 pm | [comment link]
6. Dave C. wrote:

This is simply the latest episode that gives the lie to the reappraiser claims of prizing inclusivity, dialogue, and inquiry (otherwise known as “not checking our brains at the door”).

March 28, 6:21 pm | [comment link]
7. physician without health wrote:

The strength of LCMS has been its adherence to the Lutheran confessions.  I hope and pray that they do not let this go.  I am soon moving to an area without a strong Anglican presence and plan to look first at LCMS.

March 28, 10:44 pm | [comment link]
8. Hakkatan wrote:

What I have read about the “emergent church” has scared me—warmed-over “traditions” mixed together without context, plus a large amount of big questions simply glossed over.  I read Generous Orthodoxy and gagged.

But our church has done Forty Days of Purpose and Forty Days of Community and we have found the “Purpose Driven” ideas and practices to be self-help only in the sense of what one gains when he dies to self and lives for Jesus.  The “Purpose Driven” concepts can be used as a tool within a larger and older tradition as well as within a “hymns on the screen” and lots of guitars situation.

March 28, 11:39 pm | [comment link]
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