A friend of mine who is media broker once told me:
Nobody ever lost money investing in the FM spectrum.
Today we will see an exception to that notion. It is a cautionary story about what happens when hype exceeds reality. In July we reported on a noncom FM station near the Twin Cities being advertised for sale for $750,000. Previously the station had been listed for $1 million. Recently it sold in November for $52,000 to Maranatha Assembly of God Church in Forest Lake, Minnesota.
Below is the story of WAJC-FM, built on the boast it was a Twin Cities metro signal. But, it covered only a small slice of the market. The founders of WALC were Kevin and Jill Martin Rische. Jill’s father, Dr. Walter Martin, backed the station and likely experienced a significant financial loss. Martin is a long-time radio preacher known as The Original Bible Answer Man.
According to published reports, WAJC had been rebroadcasting Northwestern College’s student station via KTIS’s HD4 signal. WAJC is apparently off the air pending FCC approval of the sale. The new owner has not revealed future plans for WAJC.
Here is the original post:
___________________________________________________________________July 8, 2015
Today we’ve got a true radio story. If you’ve ever worked in management at a noncom or commercial station you’ve seen people dream big and then fall on their ass.
One of the most frequent radio dreams is to start your own station. The freedom seems so inviting and the opportunities so great. I lived this dream in 1982 when I signed on KSKY-FM in the Black Hills. So, I can relate to the people in this short story because I've been there.
In mid-June I saw this ad in a newsletter I get from a broker of broadcast stations:
I eat call letters for breakfast but I had never heard of this station. So I investigated.
WAJC FM 88.1 is licensed to Newport, Minnesota – a far-flung southern exurb of St. Paul. WAJC’s Construction Permit was granted in 2010 and they signed on in 2013. The owner of WAJC is Religious Information Network, a 501c3 nonprofit organization.
Now WAJC is for sale. The asking price is $750,000.
Take a look at WAJC’s coverage
This is NOT a Minneapolis-St. Paul metro radio station. This is a station that runs on hype and the tank is empty.
THE TRUE WAJC STORY
Jill Martin Rische is the oldest daughter of Dr. Walter Martin. Dr. Martin is a long-time radio preacher known as The Original Bible Answer Man.
Jill married Kevin Rische – they met at church. Dr. Martin brought Kevin Rische into the family business: Preaching For Dollars On the Radio. Kevin was put in charge of digitizing Dr. Martin’s 40-some years of broadcasting.
Dr. Martin’s program The Original Bible Answer Man and other shows made a lot of money. They were (and still are) time-brokered broadcasts on commercial religious stations. Dr. Martin gained notoriety with true believers with his late 1960s book The K
Dr. Martin was getting older and apparently had cash on hand.
LET’S START OUR OWN STATION!
Someone convinced someone to apply for a new FM allocation for Newport, Minnesota. Religious Information Network was one of several applicants. They won the license in a mutually-exclusive (“MX”) contest at the FCC in 2010.
Kevin and Jill planned the station and started building. Here is Kevin Rische at the WAJC tower location:
MEET THE REMNANT
In 2013 the happy talk ended and things got real.
WHEN THE WHIP COMES DOWN
According IRS 990 tax fillings, The Remnant’s revenue has been between $20,000 and $40,000 every year since they signed on. Expenses exceed revenue every year, sometimes by thousands of dollars.
It seems so clear now what went wrong:
• WAJC doesn’t cover enough of the Twin Cities to be a viable metro station.
• Northwestern College Broadcasting (KTIS) owns the religious noncom market in the Twin Cities. KTIS draws around 400,000 listeners a week. Salem Broadcasting scoops up the rest.
• Kevin and Jill ran WJAC into the ground. But they successfully traded air time for a free station vehicle. They lost the vehicle in the sale.
• Dr. Walter Martin – The Original Bible Answer Man believes God answers all prayers. Unfortunately, some times God says “NO.”