Harold Camping's Family Radio Inc. (also referred to as Family Stations Inc.) has been undergoing changes as the radio network seeks to shed the non-commercial status of some of its properties, prompting some observers to wonder if these stations will also be shedding their Christian content.
Specifically, it has been reported that the Christian radio network filed a request to have its WFME Newark station converted from a non-commercial to commercial operation on Jan 6.
A visit to Family Radio's "reception reports" for New York shows that WFME is "off air" and has apparently been awaiting a fix for months.
Critics stipulate that this license conversion is in preparation for a sale, and many are questioning whether the buyer of the station will maintain Family Radio's Christian teachings, which attracted much attention in May of last year due to Camping's claims that the world would be ending that month.
According to Radio-Info.com, the Christian WFME station has been the “crown jewel” of Family Radio, running in combination with a television station and maintaining its own website.
As RadioInsight previously reported, two more of Family Radio’s stations went commercial this summer after Camping's apocalyptic claims failed to materialize.
When May 15, 2011, came and went without Christ's appearance, the Family Radio Bible teacher and president then pointed to Oct. 21, 2011, as the actual day the world would end. Camping insists, despite his failed predictions, that both of those dates are still significant. "We are waiting upon the Lord, and in His mercy He may give us understanding in the future regarding the significance of those two dates," he said in a "special announcement" in early December.
Camping, 90, suffered a stroke on June 9, shortly after his failed May prediction, which was heavily promoted in an expensive advertising campaign. Although Camping reportedly "retired" after his failed October prediction, it is suspected that he is still the silent backbone of Family Radio.
Some commentators stipulate that Family Radio is strapped for cash, and therefore the Oakland,Calif., company is selling its stations.
Others stipulate that Family Radio is simply dying out, due to Camping’s troublesome teachings.
“The world did not end, Harold Camping had a stroke and can't speak, so Family Radio doesn't need to be on the radio anymore,” commented a user named "Nick" on Radio-Info's New York discussion board.
As Radio-Info reports, “Last year’s ‘end of the world’ predictions by Harold Camping were very expensive.”
As far as guesses for the purchaser goes, many commenters stipulate that CBS or ESPN will wrangle WFME.
There are also rumors circulating that Family Radio refuses to sell its stations to any religious broadcaster. These rumors have not been confirmed.
“Harold Camping is still calling the shots at Family Stations despite rumors to the contrary and he does not want any religious broadcasters to acquire any of the signals they once used,” wrote Giacomo Siffredi on Radio-Info's New York discussion board.
“At this point, it is all about cashing in for as much money because they owe creditors big for the massive May 21, 2011 advertising binge they embarked on. So it is not only for theological principles but for financial gains. A commercial license is worth tons more than non-commercial,” Siffredi added.
According to a May 2011 CBS News report, Family Radio spent $1 million on a May 2011 billboard advertising campaign. The radio network was reportedly worth $22 million in 2002 and $117 million in 2008.
Other Family Radio station properties previously converted reportedly include 106.9 WKDN of Camden, N.J., which went from non-commercial to commercial status and was purchased by Merlin Media. The second conversion was Family Station’s 107.9 WFSI of Annapolis, Md., which was purchased by CBS.
Radio-Info’s New York Discussion Board contains thread after thread questioning who will purchase WFME if Family Radio also puts it up for sale after its license conversion.
According to Camping's Family Radio biography, the network once owned more than 140 radio stations.