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Family Radio Sells California Headquarters, Moves to Tennessee

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Family Radio made the leap to one of the top 10 largest Christian media ministries in the country this year. It moved from 34th in 2021 to 10th in terms of revenue in 2022 on the MinistryWatch list.

But the jump was not the result of a large increase in donations.    Rather, this large jump for the network of radio stations is mostly attributable to the sale of its property in Alameda, Calif., where the ministry used to be headquartered, and the sale of a radio station in New York.

Family Radio is moving its headquarters to the Nashville, Tenn., metro area. The decision to move was made by the ministry’s board of directors in 2019, according to its president Thomas Evans.

Given the high cost of living and competitiveness of the labor market in the Bay Area of northern California, Family Radio took advantage of the greater availability of production resources in the Nashville area. 

“The decision was more a long-term strategic move, rather than to supply a short-term financial need,” Evans told MinistryWatch when asked whether the sale was intended to meet any financial needs of the network. 

It sold the land in Alameda in 2020.  It also sold a five acre tower site of for its 1560 WFME New York to logistics real estate operator Prologis for $51 million.  It will use the proceeds to build a multipurpose ministry campus in Williamson County, Tenn.

Family Radio has always leaned theologically conservative since its founding in 1958 by Harold Camping. It has had to overcome controversy surrounding Camping’s false predictions of Jesus’ return, first in 1994 and several more times. The most recent was in 2011. Camping admitted his false prediction was a “sinful statement.”

Camping died in 2013, and Evans has been president and general manager since 2014.

“For the last decade Family Radio has endeavored to refocus our resources toward enabling people to discover and hear the Word of God and thereby find the glorious news of salvation in Jesus Christ,” Evans wrote to MinistryWatch.

By 2017, all products and teaching related to Camping were removed from Family Radio, Evans told Samaritan Ministries in a blog post.

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The network consists of 74 AM and FM stations broadcasting hymns and other Christian music, inspirational stories, Bible readings, and nationally-syndicated teaching programs featuring such Christian leaders as John Piper, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, and Tim Keller.

They also have original programming like This Christian Life, which features stories of God’s work in people’s lives. 

Family Radio also offers its programming digitally through its app and its website. 

“It’s just becoming more apparent that more and more people, young and old, are gravitating towards these types of things and using radio less and less,” Evans told Samaritan Ministries. “How much longer is radio going to be viable? We don’t know. Five years, maybe? Ten years? It’s a transitional step. That’s why we’re putting more emphasis on podcasting and on-demand content.”

Evans said about 70% of the network programming is music and in-house produced content. 

The network offers all of its services, including its programming, publications, and air time, free of charge. He says this is to follow the teaching in Matthew 10:8, “Freely ye have received, freely give.”

It held its first on-air fundraiser in over 30 years in 2019. Evans described it as a way to thank listeners and celebrate God’s faithfulness. “Our fundraisers are more of an ‘open-house’  in which we remind one another of God’s unfailing faithfulness and provision,” he said.

Evans went on to say their fundraising events never involve target goals, matching grants, or incentive prizes.

The list of Family Radio’s board of directors could not be located on its website. Evans did not provide a list of board members in response to our inquiry, but instead wrote, “Currently, there are four Board members serving on our Board of Directors, of whom are other ministry heads, Directors, and volunteers. Our 2021 Federal 990 should be filed and then posted within the next month, and our Board members will be listed there.”

The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability requires its members to have at least five board members.  MinistryWatch recommends at least seven board members.

In the MinistryWatch 1,000 Database, Family Radio receives a donor confidence score of 60, “give with caution.” It also gets a transparency grade of “C” because it does not belong to the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, although it does file a Form 990 and makes its audited financial statements publicly available on its website.

Editor’s Note:  This story has been revised.

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Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is a freelance writer who holds a Juris Doctorate from Baylor University. She has home schooled her three children and is happily married to her husband of 25 years.