The LCMS has owned the station for over 50 years and has programmed it as an Arts and classical music station. The station has regularly scheduled programs which include a weekly hour about the St. Louis Symphony, live music broadcasts and interviews with touring musicians, artists and actors. Since the St. Louis area major NPR station went to all news and talk, Classic 99 is the only station playing classical music and covering the arts scene in the area.
LCMS made news in September 2010 when it announced it was selling the station to a small AM Radio organization which broadcasts modern Christian music. Immediately, many cultural leaders and the management of the St. Louis Symphony went public bemoaning the planned sale. One group in particular, the Friends of KFUO-FM, a volunteer fundraising group, launched a media campaign to challenge the sale claiming, among other things, that the LCMS refused to negotiate with them on purchasing the station. Arts organizations complained about the absence of promotion opportunities for their events. And those listeners who wanted a different choice from easy listening pop music argued vehemently about dearth of music choices on the FM dial.
In this series of postings, we will examine the proposed sale as a case study in nonprofit governance. We will look at the decision making process, the role of the board, and the role, if any, of the community or the state of Missouri, into the decision.