March 29, 2012 | Vol. 42, No. 13

Cash-strapped Christian station KRSA may go off air after April

Operators of the Christian radio station serving Haines say they’ll turn off the signal at the end of April if there’s not a major change in management or a surge in financial support.

Petersburg-based KRSA is seeking community pledges and new managers to help stay afloat, said Ed May, acting general manager. The station needs to earn $8,000 per month, but brings in only about $3,000, according to May’s wife Milinda, who works as community outreach coordinator for the station.

Ed May previously worked in Haines as news director at public radio station KHNS.

The Mays were hired in September 2010, when the station was under SEND International, a Christian mission that helped establish KRSA in Petersburg 26 years ago. The station started transmitting to Haines about 15 years ago. It also broadcasts in Wrangell and Sitka.

Ed May was hired as regional news director, but two months later SEND discontinued involvement, and the Mays and others took it on in November 2010 under Sea-Christ Broadcasting Corporation, a non-profit they formed, and purchased the station and equipment for $1.

Ed May said he believes the station was historically subsidized by the mission, with advertising revenues covering only the station’s utilities. The mission paid salaries of staff who worked at the station, and housed them at two mission-owned homes in Petersburg. “There was no payroll.”

Sea-Christ didn’t have “a big pile of money” at start-up and the station was unable to land a sales manager to bring in advertising, May said. “We’re wore out from being such a bare-bones staff.”

The station can keep going with pledges of $40 per month from 200 listeners until the end of the year, but so far fewer than 25 listeners have pledged that amount, Milinda May said.

One option that surfaced last weekend is to have another group manage the station, and to expand the station’s signal to Juneau and Ketchikan, making for regionwide broadcasts, Ed May said.

Haines resident Barb Blood said loss of Christian radio would be very disappointing to her family. Her husband Gerry helped start broadcasts in Haines and the family’s church, Port Chilkoot Bible Church, sends money to support KRSA.

“I’m disappointed but I’m not surprised because I know how much work and money it takes to keep a station on the air,” Blood said.