Thursday, July 3, 2008

Issues, Etc.™-The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

In the first hour of the July 2 Issues, Etc™ program, Pastor Wilken and Jeff Schwarz revisited some of the good, the bad, and the ugly after their unceremonious firing. Here’s some of what they had to say. Don’t forget, you can listen or download the shows at their website:

Pastor Wilken’s light-hearted description of Jeff Schwarz’ present state of affairs: “...freed from the shackles of ecclesiastical bureaucracy.”

Pastor Todd Wilken:
Now the restriction that existed before, that really became a tremendous frustration to me, especially in the last years and months was not so much a restriction as to what we could or couldn’t say, but what the priority had become that surrounded the radio program before. The priority quite honestly, became, not the proclamation or the promulgation of the Gospel, but the preservation of the commercial radio station in the St. Louis market. So that very often the editorial conversations that we would have had to do with whether or not something we may have said or failed to say or someone we may have talked to or failed to talk to on the air, was going to somehow hurt the prospects for a commercial radio station in the St. Louis market. And I found that at first, confusing, and in time almost completely intolerable. So when I talked earlier this week about the sense of relief that Jeff and I both had after the cancellation of Issues, Etc.™, it was due largely to the fact that we would no longer have to be in service of the preservation of a commercial radio station in the St. Louis market and worry about whether or not something we say might get a radio station sold or cast in a bad light.

The frustration was compounded by the fact that when I would bring up these concerns they met largely with a deaf ear. I mean people would listen and bob their heads and say “Yeah, yeah, yeah, we understand, don’t worry, that’ll all change, and it did change, we got canceled. That’s how it changed.

When I talked on the first day of the program about how a lot of things didn’t make sense to me, do you remember the end of the meeting where we did get fired? The last thing that both of us said was “This makes no sense.” ...Both of us were just kind of left with our mouths hanging open saying “This makes no sense.” And I’ll be quite honest with you folks, it still makes no sense to me today. If someone were to ask me, and I’ve said this several times, if someone were to ask me “Why was the show canceled? Why were you fired?” My honest answer is, “I don’t know.” I know what explanations have been given.
Jeff: Not to us.
Todd: Well not to us personally, no, to everyone but us. I do not know why the show really was canceled and why we were really fired. I have my ideas, I have my speculations. But I probably will go to my grave never knowing why, and with it making as little sense to me today or then as it did on March 18th. It really does make no sense.

We actually weren’t called in on a moments notice. We were given a weekend to stew about it. ...We didn’t have a lot of meetings at the International Center. Jeff and I are not kind of International Center type of guys. Both of us kind of feel the wind being sucked out of our lungs every time we walked into the building, and kind of the bones in our spine slowly turning into jelly. So we would usually keep those meetings as short as possible. ...I enquired about what the meeting was going to be about, and no one would tell me. ...So Jeff and I began to think about this and as Jeff and I were in the habit of doing, kind of living in a bunker mentality we began to develop our multiple scenarios for what might happen Tuesday during that meeting at 10:30. And I think we had six scenarios if I counted them all correctly, and we talked them over many times on the telephone over the weekend. Jeff being the pessimist that he is, said we’re being pink slipped. It’s that simple. But he expected two weeks notice at the very least. I thought it had something else to do with, I don’t know, management, maybe we were going to get a talking to. We didn’t know. I thought it highly unlikely that we would get pink slipped. But the minute we got there and walked to the meeting room and saw the little placard on the door that said “human resources meeting” we both knew exactly what was happening. And to tell you the truth, even though I can say honestly we didn’t know what it was about, we had some suspicions, neither of us were, I don’t think I was surprised. I was not surprised. It was kind of one of those things when I sat down in that meeting I thought to myself “Well this was going to happen sooner or later. Let’s just get this over with.”

Todd replaying the aftermath conversation with his wife:
I said, “Honey, I just got fired.” And my wife is hard to surprise, because she lives with me, but she was completely and utterly shocked. She said “You’re kidding me.” “No. I’m not kidding you. I got fired.” “What about the show?” “The show is gone. It’s over with.” “Aren’t you going to the radio station?” “No. They told us we can’t go to the radio station. Hand in your keys.”

1 comment:

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

The priority quite honestly, became, not the proclamation or the promulgation of the Gospel, but the preservation of the commercial radio station in the St. Louis market.

What this means is that the official statement as to why Issues Etc. was ended was correct. And so were the critics of the firing.

It WAS programmatic and financial, because KFUO's view was how to keep sponsors and make money. They didn't want program offending and costing them money.

Unfortunately, they also were willing to go soft on doctrine in order to do so.

Compromise in the name of keeping peace, worshiping God and mammon...

Christianity always has a hard time when they try to make both a priority.

We had a gentleman in our congregation that didn't want to see us get a cell phone tower because it meant the church would have to enter into the business world in the dealings, and he didn't see that as a role for the church. Maybe he was right. Maybe it is time to get rid of the radio station. If we view it as a business and not as a ministry, there really is no point.