Chapter 8 - "For It Is God Who Works"

 

Chapter 8 - Financial Struggles

         Doug Ford, who became KHCB's first general manager, was also managing the finances for the station. He had optimistically speculated that if 10,000 listeners gave $1 per month, the station could operate on a monthly budget of $10,000. Thus, the monthly budget was set at $10,000 and according to budget, during the first six months on the air, the station spent $60,000. Most of these funds were used to pay the staff. Although volunteers had helped in many aspects of the ministry, professionals were hired to keep the station on the air 18 hours a day.

        Unfortunately, Doug had overestimated the number of listeners as well as the potential income. The average monthly income for the first six months was $1,500. There was capital of $35,000 available at the start but the expenses far exceeded the income, and by September of 1962 the station was $52,000 in debt. As general manager, Doug felt responsible for the problem but didn't know how to solve it. He hoped and prayed that the income would increase as more people found out about the station.

        In an effort to increase public awareness of the station and thereby increase the income, the station decided to put an advertisement in the local paper. On June 16, 1962, just three months after the station went on the air, KHCB purchased an eight page advertising supplement to the Houston Chronicle. Several articles gave information about the station, and the philosophy of ministry. A Statement of Belief was included giving KHCB's doctrinal stand. A large map showed the studio location and gave Houstonians an invitation to attend the Dedication Ceremony to be conducted by Dr. K. Owen White, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Houston. Another special guest was Dick Palmquist, Executive Director of Family Stations with which KHCB was then affiliated.

        At the dedication, Mr. Palmquist outlined Family Station's sevenfold plan to achieve their main goal: "To exalt the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ." Palmquist also explained the policy of not soliciting funds. Doug reinforced this and expressed a firm faith in God by saying, "If the station can supply spiritual needs of people through music and the spoken word, God will supply the needs of the station."

        Doug also shared his testimony and how he became involved. During the months of preparing for the station, Doug and his wife Lucile supported their family with proceeds from the sale of his insurance firm.

        Doug's contacts in the real estate business were beneficial to the station as many of them agreed to buy ads in the Chronicle supplement to congratulate KHCB, thereby paying for the cost of the supplement. Several local banks, florists, individual businessmen and even churches expressed their support of the station with advertisements. The supplement also included write-ups about the employees and Directors.

        Despite these heroic efforts, the contributions didn't increase. Bills began to pile up and creditors began calling wanting payment for their services. The Board finally decided to have an emergency meeting to deal with the situation.

        It was a somber group that met at the studios that night. Many were advising the Board and stockholders to jump ship and sell KHCB before the station went bankrupt. No one wanted to lend money to a losing enterprise. The situation seemed bleak. But the Lord had placed Paul King on the Board of Directors.

        Paul grew up in Oklahoma where his father was an official in an oil company. During the war, he was in the chemical warfare service. After the war, King purchased from the U.S. government stores of scrap pipe that had been left abandoned in Africa and sold them to oil companies in the U.S.

        Having a great deal of experience in sales made King a very good judge of character. Most importantly, he had a sincere heart for the ministry and the financial means to save KHCB from bankruptcy. Against all logic and business sense, Mr. King lent the station $20,000. He stood in the gap for Christian Radio financially and saved the station from what would have been certain economic ruin.

Rescue Operation

        In response to the desperate financial situation, the Board of Directors prayerfully took several measures to put KHCB back on sure footing. First, most of the paid staff were let go. Those who stayed doubled up on duties. Dick Semaan was asked to assume the roles of both station manager and program director.

        Volunteers were enlisted to help in all aspects of the ministry including operating the control board through which programs were put on the air. This economic benefit provided a valuable precedent that continues to set KHCB apart from other Christian radio stations. To this day, volunteers are in charge of keeping Missionary Radio on the air weeknights and all day Saturday and Sunday. The broadcast day was trimmed from 18 to 6 hours a day, but with the help of volunteers and the enactment of other cost-cutting measures, the schedule soon returned to 18 hours daily.

        The Directors also decided that the station should be a non-commercial, listener-sponsored radio station. They began the lengthy process necessary to change the corporation from "for-profit" status to "non-profit." Attorney Joe Raynolds volunteered his legal services to help KHCB receive non-profit status. The process required three and one-half years to complete, but during this interim KHCB was always operated as a non-profit ministry.

        The financial position of the station improved almost immediately. Listener contributions continued to be solicited, but the intent had changed from a Christian business to a ministry that did not seek material gain. Non-profit status was finally granted by the IRS on February 16, 1966. At this time, a Board of Trustees replaced the former Board of Directors as the governing body for the station. Trustee Board members came from those persons who had been serving on the former Board of Directors.

        Meanwhile, Del was facing a personal crisis at home. Bea's cancer returned and soon spread to all parts of her body. She required constant nursing care, but Del did not have the funds to pay for her long stay in the hospital. As he agonized and prayed over this situation, a dear friend from church, Winifred Bleeker, came to his aid. Miss Bleeker was a registered nurse, and she volunteered to take care of Bea in the Underwood home.

        As the disease spread, Bea grew weaker and was unable to perform daily household duties. At this point, Miss Bleeker decided to move in with the Underwoods so that she could give Mrs. Underwood round-the-clock care, and help Del with the children. The months came and went until finally, Bea's body couldn't hold on any longer.

        On April 1, 1964, after battling the disease in bed for over one year, Bea Underwood went home to be with the Lord. Del felt the loss intensely, especially with the girls still so young. The youngest was only 4 years old. Del's father came to stay with the family for a short time while Del adjusted to the loss.

        The station had many financial struggles in those early years, but the Lord always provided, sometimes in miraculous ways, to meet these needs. Although all the staff was promised a humble salary, even that was dependent on the donations received. If the giving was low, then the staff had to wait for its paychecks till the money came in.

        During the time in which Dick Semaan was general manager, the Lord used an anonymous gift to remind Dick and the staff at KHCB that He was taking care of them. It was late in the day and Dick was resting on a couch in his office when he heard the front door open. A few seconds later the door opened again and he heard a car drive off. He got up to investigate and found a $1000 cashier's check for KHCB on the front desk. This was one of the largest gifts the station had received. What an encouragement to Dick and the staff!

        The creditors agreed to allow KHCB to pay each bill a little at a time. With patience and dedication, God enabled KHCB to remain on the air. Current bills were paid first and all the excess funds were allocated toward paying previous bills. Month by month and year by year KHCB faithfully paid one debt after another. A debt that took only 6 months to amass took almost 3 years to erase, but to the glory of God the station was completely debt-free by the end of 1966 and has remained that way until today.

        With the station out of debt, the Trustees of non-profit Houston Christian Broadcasters, Inc. now had the freedom to seek opportunities for growth and expansion. In November of 1970, the monthly operating budget was $4,300. As more staff were added, the budget began increasing to reflect this need. The largest portion of KHCB's budget (about 60%) has always been allocated for staff needs.

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Table of Contents

Foreword & Preface
1. From Houston to the World
2. A Seed is Planted
3. Getting Started
4. The Lord's Ways
5. God Reveals His Best
6. The Lord Provides Personnel
7. Remodeling
8. Financial Struggles
9 Ministering Servants
10. KHCB Goes to the Rodeo
11. Programming
12. Expanding
13. New Studio Building
14. The Tall Tower
15. Volunteers
16. Changed Lives
17. Trustees
18. AM Station Acquired
19. Hispanics Launch Friendship Radio
20. Chinese Language Programming
21. The Gospel in Vietnamese
22. Translator Takes KHCB-FM to Bryan
23. Reaching for the Stars
24. To the Ends of the Earth
25. And the Work Goes On