Point/Counterpoint: Godcasting and its "Persecution"

Last week Paul @ Mediageek received an excitingly strained e-mail from Don Mills, the program director of Calvary Chapel of Twin Falls’ Calvary Satellite Network. CCTF/CSN is the largest single owner of translator stations in the United States. Paul’s been critical of Calvary Chapel in the past and Mills wrote to rebut the allegation that his network is actively trying to scarf up LPFM stations to add to its empire (CCTF/CSN currently owns or controls 300+ translators, has applied to construct another 300+, and has dozens of full-power FM affiliates).
While several applications for LPFM stations around the country have been tendered under shady circumstances by “Calvary Chapels,” Mills stressed that those Calvary Chapels are not associated with his operation.
Most notable, though, was the missive’s shifting tone. It began with an intimidatory “request for copies” of anything Mediageek has written or recorded about Calvary Chapel. Then, following a justification of CCTF/CSN’s existence and expansion, the man who controls 300+ radio stations remarked to the guy with a blog, “It just seems that you don’t like the fact that Christians have a voice on radio.”
CCTF/CSN may not be making a run on LPFM stations directly but it still wouldn’t mind crowding them out of existence. CCTF initiated a petition for rulemaking in 2002 to expand the placement of satellite-fed translator stations which, if approved by the FCC, would put them in direct competition for potential useable LPFM frequencies all around the country. Fortunately it appears the FCC’s still sitting on the idea.
One dollop of disingenuous persecution-spin deserves another: meet Stuart Epperson, co-founder of Salem Communications. Salem is arguably the top Christian-format commercial radio conglomerate in the U.S. It owns nearly 100 stations across the country and claims to be the third largest broadcaster in the top 25 markets (in terms of the number of stations per market). Salem’s multiple program networks (both music and talk) are heard on another 1,500 affiliate stations.
Epperson wrote a very interesting op-ed about the ongoing indecency flap last week for the online right-wing “Washington Dispatch.” Check these quotes:
“We are in this business primarily because we have a point of view. Moreover, we think our views are well received in the marketplace of ideas. Our editorials emphasize limited government, free enterprise, a strong national defense and traditional moral values. These principles are also, in general, the views of our talk show hosts. We have both local hosts and nationally syndicated hosts. Indeed we syndicate far beyond the reach of the stations we own.”
“Not only are we conservative in our politics but we also operate within the Judeo-Christian moral framework, as did our founding fathers…”
“It’s important to remember that in spite of the overwhelming liberal bias of the large media only one broadcaster ever lost their license because of the Fairness Doctrine – a small Christian radio station in Media, PA.”
That last bit is a complete distortion of the truth. WXUR, the “small Christian radio station in Media, PA” was owned by the Reverend Carl McIntire. Epperson left out the fact that the rabidly fundamentalist (and defrocked) Presbyterian minister’s Twentieth Century Reformation Hour was also syndicated daily on more than 600 other stations around the country. This was in supplement to his publishing empire and multi-million dollar revival/conference centers.
McIntire appealed the early-1970’s revocation of WXUR’s license twice to the federal courts and lost resoundingly both times. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals even adjudged McIntire – not the government – as sullying the first amendment most. From there McIntire went pirate with “Radio Free America,” broadcasting from a converted minesweeper off the coast of New Jersey in 1973. He lost that battle with the FCC as well.
By the way, this is the same Stuart Epperson and same Salem Communications that threatened to sue a Christian LPFM station in Indiana earlier this year unless it stopped using the moniker “Fish FM.” That symbology has been trademarked for the purposes of radio broadcasting by Salem.
Hypocrisy notwithstanding, I highly suggest reading Epperson’s article because the frothing only gets more disgusting: there’s jabs at “the homosexual lobby,” “radical environmentalists,” “black elites,” and the “so-called Hispanic leadership.”
Final tally for this specific dispute, by number of stations owned or controlled: Christians 1,000+, Mediageek/DIYmedia 0. Props to online publication and what’s left of the first amendment, is the lesson of this particular homily.