Educational Media Foundation (EMF) now is the second largest radio station operator if you count AM and FM licenses. EMF is the operator of two Christian music services called K-LOVE and Air1. They only own AM-stations briefly when they have to purchase them as part of a package. They are essentially an FM-only radio company.
Mike Novak was the person who formed this large broadcasting entity that most people in radio either do not know exists or they’re in total denial of what is going on. Since EMF is non-commercial, that means they don’t sell advertisements to the businesses that fund commercial radio. Commercial radio then views them as not a threat because they do not realize that the listeners are the ultimate consumer. EMF is not going to put a 50 ft tall gorilla balloon in front of the parking lot and give away free hot dogs. however, when we went into a barbecue restaurant in Lexington North Carolina, we realized EMF was playing in the restaurant, not Alice Cooper.
Mr. Novak’s retirement was announced several months ago, and they have now identified his successor by hiring an outside search company. That is always good for morale of the existing employees who who spent their entire life working for your company, only to have an outsider come in to reshape the company that they know very little about. It is not uncommon for generation one’s leader to believe they’re going to be in charge forever, and not having groomed a successor, leaving generation two to have a fight for control
Bill Reeves is the new choice to run EMF. He currently operates a company based in Nashville called the WTA group. His background is in marketing, not theology. EMF is based in California, setting up an immediate culture clash.
If you visit his website, he mainly seems to liberate money from Christians by acquiring marketing rights to melodrama videos about current day Christians, then handles the merchandising of the Jesus bobblehead dolls and T-Shirts. Part of hiring him includes that his for-profit company will be incorporated into the non-profit 501(c)3 EMF.
One of the partners in WTA is Bill Landis, who has had a prior relationship with radio entrepreneur Dave Ramsey. I am “shocked” at that connection, I tell you. Since they are both based in Nashville, it is inconceivable that there was not a relationship. The press release that forms the basis of the rbr.com story doesn’t seem to be aware of that detail.
Dave Ramsey is another force that caught commercial radio by surprise. I believe the jargon for this term is a “disrupter”. Dave Ramsey figured out that he could get Christians to live on rice and beans so they could redirect their discretionary income into buying life insurance from his business partners. Do you think that Mary and Joseph took out a life insurance policy on their son?