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Sale of KFUO announced.

The owners of KFUO-FM, St Louis' classical music station, are pushing forward with their effort to sell the station to a broadcaster of Christian contemporary music, in spite of growing vocal opposition to the deal.

The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod, which has owned the station since it signed on in 1948, has stated publicly that it needs to sell the property to raise money for the synod. That means the sounds of Bach, Beethoven and Mozart on Classic 99 may be replaced by Christian music.

However, the deal, which was outlined in the sale announcement, includes a self-financing clause which will severely limit the initial monies coming into the synod's coffers. The sale is for $18 million plus about $8 million in interest. The LCMS will finance the sale with a 10-year balloon note

Although several people have pointed out the discrepancy between its words and actions, the LCMS has ignored the criticism.

The proposed buyer of the station, Gateway Creative Broadcasting, also has its share of problems. A note for $300,000 on the area stations they already own is coming due next year and the group is sending out urgent pleas for donations to cover the debt. The additional interest debt after the purchase would exceed the group's entire current operating budget. Gateway, as Joy FM, owns two smaller stations, in Bowling Green and Potosi.

Other groups interested in possibly buying KFUO and retaining the classical music format complained that the negotiations with Gateway were done secretively. They were handled by Kermit Brashear, a lawyer from Omaha, Neb., who is a LCMS board member. Fred Bronstein, president of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, called the sale "a tragic loss" for the city of St. Louis and its cultural institutions.

As of this writing, no organized opposition to the transaction has surfaced, but issues with the sale could cause the Federal Communications Commission to delay or even derail the sale, which LCMS hopes to finalize by next spring.
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Title Annotation:off the record; Gateway Creative Broadcasting buys KFUO-FM
Author:Absher, Frank
Publication:St. Louis Journalism Review
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2009
Words:328
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