The market for FM translators reached a new peak recently when a two-watt translator sited on the Willis Tower in Chicago sold for $4.6 million. Who made the killing? Calvary Radio Network, the de facto Midwest representative of the Calvary Chapel godcast franchise. Continue reading “FM Translator Market in Bubble Mode”
The parties in the nasty power-struggle over control of the multimillion-dollar Calvary Satellite Network have come to a settlement agreement.
In a nutshell, the “Idaho faction” (Mike Kestler et al.) walks away with close to half the full-power FM stations in the CSN inventory and the overwhelming majority of translator stations (400+). The “California faction” (Chuck & Jeff Smith et al.) retains control of 29 full-power stations and just two translators, as well as most of those currently wending their way through the application- and construction-approval process at the FCC (with whom a copy of this settlement agreement has already been filed). The Idaho faction will make a symbolic payment of $200,000 to the California faction for the media empire it’s wangled out of the deal, as well as bear the costs of doing the necessary FCC paperwork to formalize this schism. Continue reading “Settlement Reached in Calvary Satellite Network Split”
The long-awaited L.A. Times piece on the problems at the Calvary Satellite Network was published today. It doesn’t include much more than we already knew, save for a few interesting factoids:
1. The CSN network is valued at $250 million, most of that in the form of the licenses for the 450+ full-power FM and translator stations it owns.
2. Calvary Chapel founder Chuck Smith poured some $13 million into network construction, and Chuck’s son, Jeff, siphoned money from his dad’s radio ministry to finance CSN in troubled times. Continue reading “CSN Exposé Finally Published”
The Phoenix Preacher blog reports that discussions between Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, CA (the founding church of the Calvary Chapel phenomenon) and Calvary Chapel of Twin Falls, ID may avoid acrimonious litigation and instead end with a partial breakup of CSN. The scuttlebutt says the Idaho-based operation will end up keeping the network’s uplink, several full-power FM stations, and an undetermined number of FM translator repeater-stations. Continue reading “Calvary Satellite Network Lawsuits Near Settlement”
Major-league bad blood is now gushing over at the Calvary Satellite Network, the Clear Channel of godcasting. A couple of months ago a civil suit surfaced, filed by Michael Kestler, pastor of Calvary Chapel of Twin Falls, Idaho, against Jeff Smith – son of Chuck Smith, founder of the Calvary Chapel fellowship itself. Kestler accused Smith and several anonymous accomplices of siphoning money from CSN to finance other projects, like Chuck Smith’s syndicated radio program, The Word for Today.
Smith et al. have now responded – big time. In a 112-page counter-complaint, it is as if Kestler’s accusations are thrown back at him, amplified. Before getting into the dirty details, though, a bit of back-story is required. Continue reading “Glass Houses, Etc.”
Very interesting dirty laundry now flaps in the wind.
Until about two years ago, the translator station-mongering Calvary Satellite Network (CSN) was apparently run by a two-person board of directors. Now, one director is suing the other, alleging all manner of fiscal and managerial impropriety, among other misdeeds.
The accused is one Jeff Smith – son of Chuck Smith, founder of the Calvary Chapel brand of megachurch and media empire. Continue reading “Calvary Satellite Network Lawsuit Schism”
This week NPR’s All Things Considered aired a story on the plight of WAVM, a 10-watt FM radio station run by the local high school in Maynard, Massachusetts. The station stands to be forced off the air by Living Proof, Inc., an evangelical broadcast outlet based in California. WAVM is the only local radio station available in Maynard and enjoys wide community support.
NPR’s Andrea Shea got totally hoodwinked about the interloper kicking WAVM off the dial.
Shea set up WAVM’s vulnerable situation by mentioning the demise of the 10-watt Class D FM station license, calling WAVM one of the “predecessors of today’s low power FM stations.” She says the FCC did away with Class D licenses in the 1970s the after the FM band “became crowded.” Continue reading “NPR Punts on Godcaster Proliferation”
Free Radio Berkeley’s 75-watt transmitter arrived safe and sound. It’s been re-tuned to 88.7 FM and is presently putting out about 80-90 watts. A shed’s been cleared out to serve as a full-time studio space; a military surplus mast has been procured and assembled; and a new antenna sits on top of it. Soon the station will be webcasting as well. The vibe is increasingly active as more and more people return to the city: there is much to do and many stories to tell.
There are approximately four workable microradio frequencies in the New Orleans metropolitan area, three short-term and one (arguably) longer-term: Continue reading “Algiers Microradio Gets Upgrade”
While the proliferation of FM translator stations by religious broadcast groups arguably constitutes spectrum abuse, it’s just one perspective on a larger problem. Religious broadcasters are not only snapping up translator channels on which real community LPFM stations might have been sited, they’re also engaged in LPFM broadcasting.
A recent SF Chronicle story illustrates how Calvary Chapel organizes LPFM station affiliate growth:
This month, the Calvary Chapel Radio Ministry of Costa Mesa in Orange County hosted 170 mostly Christian low-power broadcasters, offering them operational tips as well as up to “16 hours per day, seven days a week” of programming beamed in via satellite, according to its Web site. Continue reading “Religious Broadcasting As Franchise Operation”
Thanks to curious loopholes in the FCC’s FM licensing rules, several religious broadcast companies have created national networks on the cheap using low-power, mostly-automated FM transmitters. Using their intimate familiarity with FCC bureaucracy, these companies also engage in spectrum hoarding and speculation.
The practice of spectrum speculation is nothing new, it’s a kind of side-industry in the broadcast business. Although they very seldom actually build a radio station, speculators apply for and acquire radio station construction permits and then sell them to the highest bidder. Channel spaces on the FM dial are a finite commodity – where supply is low and demand high a savvy speculator can make quite a bit of money if they have permits to build radio stations in growing markets. Continue reading “God Squads Fall From Grace”