CSN, Christian LPFM Empire threatens to Self Destruct. But don't hold your breath.
Bruce Wilson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Mar 07, 2006 at 05:52:31 PM EST
As breathlessly narrated on Metafilter.com [ see my full story for excerpt ], the Calvary Satellite Network is in danger of breaking up in a perfect storm of convergent scandals. This follows hot on the heels of a significant Columbia Journalism Review story that covered the "Great Translator Invasion". In a tryptich without parallel on the subject, U. of Illinois PhD candidiate John Anderson explored the "Translator" story in depth ( See "The God Squad Falls From Grace", parts one, two, and three, and now - in CJR on Godcasting has written an impassioned reply, and rebuttal, to the CJR piece:
The mastermind behind Radio Assist Ministry (RAM), Edgewater Broadcasting (EB), and World Radio Link (WRL), Clark Parrish, applied for more than 4,000 translator construction permits using "software designed to find open frequencies on which to place translators....The author of the piece, Daniel Schulman, calculates that RAM/EB has made more than $900,000 by selling FM translator construction permits - granted for free by the FCC - and that the rest of the permits RAM/EB holds are worth $8.7 million.......[ but ] what starts out as a pretty solid work of investigative journalism ends with a thud when it falls into the trap of false balance....The exploitation of a significant weakness in the FCC rules to acquire a massive amount of FM spectrum which, in the process, locks out an uncounted number of other potential users - all to simply rebroadcast a biblical drone from Idaho - to me, is immoral and unethical. It's a terrible abuse of what is supposed to be a public resource, to be utilized in the public interest.
[ Anderson continues ] ....Parrish, however, is driven by faith - "called upon by God," Schulman writes, to evangelize - and as a result wears moral blinders. If an unjust law works in his favor, the more the better, apparently. ....now, the self-professed "translator king" is reaping the spoils: he is a one-man Clear Channel in terms of the number of FM station licenses that may ultimately come under his control. Much harm but no foul equals clear conscience, because the end justifies the means."

CSN totters :

[ full story ]

CSN has been called the Clear Channel of the low power FM's. One of the many broadcasting arms of Calvary Chapel. It owns and operates over 400 stations. Apparently its board, consisting of two members, is about to self destruct. But the story doesn't end there. Its president is being accused of sexual  harassment and is also being accused of defaulting on a million dollar loan.

Where will this go ? Well, Clark Parrish is now flush with cash and assets: In all likelihood CSN will soldier on under a new banner - whether under his or under one of the many emergent broadcasting powerhouses of the Christian right.....

Meanwhile:

Now, great translator invasion has placed thousands of low power-FM "translator" ( repeater station ) licenses in the hands of Radio Assist Ministries and a closely related entity, Egdewater Broadcasting. Sales of nearly 4,000 translator licenses acquired by these two nonprofit entities using - apparently - specially created computer application filing software has generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in profit and enabled a sudden profusion of Christian broadcasting networks to spring up nationally - powered by ganged up translator stations fed by local full power FM stations fed - in turn - by satellite. These stations have - in turn - threatened to supplant local community run lower power FM stations ( see also : Maynard Needs a Boost, by John Garfunkel, on Civilities.net  and ON THE RADIO: Corporate bigfoot CSN tunes out community stations ( Boston Phoenix ), by Mike Miliard ) and encroach on part of the FM spectrum known by many as the home of Public Broadcasting which, by  a number of accounts, has long been in the crosshairs of  Christian right broadcasters [ see: Religious stations put squeeze on NPR( NYT ) and NPR losing stations to religious broadcaster: American Family Association uses FCC loophole in airwave grab, ( Working For Change / Tome Paine.com ), by Laura Flanders   $13 million sale of D.C. station raises fears in public radio ( Current, 2002) By  Jacqueline Conciatore]

Background / related stories :

A Higher Frequency: How the rise of Salem Communications' radio empire reveals the evangelical master plan ( Mother Jones, January 2006 Issue ), By Adam Piore

Religious broadcasters are squeezing community radio right off the FM dial. ( Alternet ), Connect the Dots ( the Gadflayer ),  by Sara Posner

Air Jesus, by Max Blumenthal

Stations Of The Cross: How evangelical Christians are creating an alternative universe of faith-based news ( Columbia Journalism Review, May/June 2005 Issue ) By Mariah Blake




Display:
I'm quite glad to see this getting press--partly because, well, there have been a few of us whom for several months now have been tracking the extent of the hijacking of frequency space by dominionist-operated translator networks.

One of the major ways (it's being found) that Calvary Chapel is owning a huge chunk of radio spectrum is not just through the larger holding firms they own (like CSN) but through regional groups that put in mass applications for practically all available frequency space in an area.

In several major markets, this has been frighteningly successful--not only have smaller stations been driven off the air (like the high school in Maynard, Massachusetts that was driven off air by a station held by one of the many, many regional holding companies that are essentially front-firms of Calvary Chapel) but in many cases there is no available spectrum space for them to relocate to because translators have literally filled all the available broadcast slots.

It's been difficult to get a good handle on the actual numbers, but a conservative estimate is that at least 3000 and probably closer to 5000 licensed translators are held by Calvary Chapel associated firms alone; several other groups, notably American Family Radio (the American Family Association's radio "outreach") also practice similar tactics.  The total could be as far as 15,000 stations, but some of the persons researching have expressed concern some may be accounted by duplicate applications.

Based on what we have seen informally (on mapped, licensed stations serving the top 50 market regions) it is probably not an exaggeration to state that fully half or more of the licensed radio stations in the US--the majority of these being translators--are owned by dominionist groups.  During the next few weeks I hope to publish some of the results I've found with radio stations in larger markets as well as in markets of particular dominionist influence (like Colorado Springs, Colorado).

The AM and FM hijackings (including the "Great Translator Invasion") aren't restricted to low-power stations, either; Salem Communications (a dominionist radio concern) has targeted licenses of public radio stations that are NPR affiliates, as has American Family Radio.  Disturbingly, the AFA has admitted this is part of a deliberate strategy to essentially crowd non-dominionist radio stations off the dial altogether.

Sadly, they do have an example to point to showing the effectiveness of this strategy.  Practically all shortwave radio stations in the US that are not directly owned or operated by either the US government or the United Nations are owned by religious broadcasters--sometimes some of the foulest on the dial (as in, literally Christian Identity radio broadcasts, broadcasts targeted at "Christian Militia" groups, and the like); fully half of the shortwave religious broadcasting stations in the US are owned by one firm, High Adventure Ministries, which bought out most of the other stations over a four-year period.  (Full disclosure: I am a walkaway from the church that presently operates High Adventure Ministries.)

These stations actually transmit illegally to North American audiences (technically, shortwave stations are NOT supposed to transmit to domestic audiences; the Voice of America will not issue QSLs (cards acknowledging receipt of the station) to US addresses for this reason) and the National Association of Shortwave Broadcasters (the umbrella group for shortwave religio-casters in the US) actually has admitted it does not wish to request rule changes from the FCC for real fear that the FCC might start enforcing the rules it already has on the books--and notice the mass violations by NASB members of present shortwave broadcast law.

by dogemperor on Thu Mar 09, 2006 at 03:15:10 PM EST

But, it's a start. I just wanted to establish this as an issue an TTA and also to publicize John Anderson's fine piece as much as possible.

by Bruce Wilson on Thu Mar 09, 2006 at 04:06:39 PM EST
Parent
And yes, it IS a fine piece of work--thank you for publicising it.  (IMHO this IS something that needs far more attention, to be honest; it's actually a serious concern to nonprofit broadcasters (like public radio) and even shortwave broadcasters (why by law are required to be nonprofits).

To give an example, Radio For Peace International had to eventually set up shop in Costa Rica because--despite years of working with the FCC--they would not license them.  Yet High Adventure Ministries rents out and even gives away "free" radio time to dominionist groups (I note "free" because those churches are required to crosspromote High Adventure Ministries and the general hijacking of the shortwave bands by dominionists); WWCR and some of the other stations are even worse, primarily renting time out to Christian Identity promoters, "Christian Militia" Reconstructionists like Gary North, and folks like "Brother Stair" who are right up there with Fred Phelps on the "Bible-based two-minute hate"-o-meter. :P

Pretty much if you are wanting to start a shortwave station in the US, forget it unless you're a dominionist (and it's sadly been this way for the better part of, oh, at least a decade or two).  Even public radio stations (full power ones) are being pressured now. :(

by dogemperor on Fri Mar 10, 2006 at 10:54:49 AM EST
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