K-LOVE First Promises Answer to Listener about Executive Compensation Then Fails to Follow Through

Back in May of this year, I published information about the finances of radio giant K-LOVE’s CEO and other executives. Several K-LOVE listeners who also read the blog thanked me for the information and also contacted K-LOVE to ask why the CEO made so much and why K-LOVE represented their financial picture as being precarious.

One couple, Bill and Sandra Ford, was promised a reply from K-LOVE. First, here is the Ford’s letter followed by K-LOVE’s reply.

From: Bill Ford [mailto:[email protected]]
TO: [email protected]
Sent: Sunday, May 01, 2016 11:01 PM
Subject: Mike Novak’s pay (KLOVE Comments, General Questions)

Dear Klove,  I’m writing you today due to a recent discovery. I recently found out that Mike Novak’s compensation is over five hundred thousand dollars a year. This is completely inappropriate for a man who is paid by people sacrificially giving each month. How can you go on the radio during pledge drives and ask people to support the ministry when the president is making more money than many medical doctors?  For years my wife and I supported a Christian/Jewish ministry until we found out that the head/founder of they ministry makes over a million dollars a year-disgusting when you consider where you think your money is going, and where it is going in reality. Please pray about this.
Bill Ford, RN

K-LOVE’s reply:

From: President – KLOVE [email protected]

Date: May 3, 2016 at 3:10:59 PM PDT
To: “‘[email protected]'” <[email protected]>
Subject: RE: Mike Novak’s pay (KLOVE Comments, General Questions)

Dear Bill,

Thank you for reaching out with your concerns about the KLOVE pledge drive and specifically the salary for our CEO. Due to the nature of your concerns, your email has been forwarded to the chairman of our board, Mr. Darrell Chambliss. He will be responding as quickly as he is able.

We do appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts. Please let me know if you do not receive a response after two weeks. I do not know Mr. Chambliss’ schedule so am not sure what his time-table will be, but will follow-up if needed.
Have a blessed day!
Jill Graves
Correspondence Assistant to the President

Mr. Ford never heard from Ms. Graves or anyone from K-LOVE. Ford contacted me and gave me permission to approach K-LOVE with his correspondence. I told K-LOVE that I hoped they would answered Mr. Ford and that via the email I requested an on-the-record to his questions justifying the CEO’s compensation. Mr. Ford wrote a second time in June and I wrote to K-LOVE on June 30. To date, no one from K-LOVE has replied.
Mr. Ford told me that he is very dismayed with the stonewalling and is considering other giving options. I don’t blame him.

I predict that K-LOVE will not reply to these inquiries until major media attention comes their way. It now seems clear to me that K-LOVE’s leaders plan to avoid issues raised by listeners and will pursue business as usual as long as a majority of listeners allow it. If you feel so inclined as a K-LOVE listener, you can use the contact information above to contact the station with your questions.

K-LOVE’s Pledge Drive: Money Behind the Music

The Christian radio empire K-LOVE (find a station near you) is in the middle of their Spring Pledge Drive. To be blunt, the constant solicitations are annoying.

After hearing a claim recently that K-LOVE’s CEO Mike Novak’s salary is over half a million dollars, I decided to do some exploration of K-LOVE’s finances. K-LOVE is one of two radio enterprises run by Educational Media Foundation (Air One is the other). Because EMF is a non-profit, their finances are available via their 990 form. The organization is quite large and took in just over $152-million during 2014.

Concerning the salary claim, it is true that CEO Mike Novak got a hefty sum of $531,256 in 2014. Numerous employees, including one of the DJs got over $200k in compensation. K-LOVE pushes an “easy” giving level of $40/month on the air and their website. It takes 1107 people making that monthly pledge just to pay Novak’s salary. By comparison, the executive director of Doctors Without Borders, Sophie Delaunay, got just over $160k for running an organization that took in twice what K-LOVE received in donations.

K-LOVE also spent $267,463 on “pledge drive coaching.” The return on investment was phenomenal in 2014 in that they raised over $32-million attributed to the effort.
KLOVE Coaching
As annoying as the gimmickry is, it is apparently quite successful.

Are Board Members Paid?
In reviewing K-LOVE’s claims about their finances, I found one claim to be technically true but misleading. On their website, K-LOVE says:
KLOVE Finances
K-LOVE claims that the Board of Directors at large serve without compensation. While it is true that the 2014 990 form doesn’t report any income paid to non-staff board members, CEO Mike Novak is one of the board of directors and is well compensated. However, readers wouldn’t know that by reading the website. The website description makes it seems as though none of the board members get paid. When one looks at the list of board members on K-LOVE’s website, at large members are not identified.

K-love leadership
The 2014 990 identifies CEO Novak as a salaried board member:
KLOVE Board 990
Does K-LOVE Need Your Money?
K-LOVE’s net revenue over expenses for 2014 was over $64-million. At $40/month, that means 133,761 donors could have given their money elsewhere and K-LOVE would have covered operational expenses. While it clearly takes lots of money to run a high quality media operation, it may come as a surprise to donors who sacrificially give $40/month that K-LOVE is doing quite well financially.

I am not saying that K-LOVE is doing anything wrong (although I think they could make it more clear that staff board members are handsomely paid). My intent is simply to provide potential donors with information that is not provided by K-LOVE. It may be that your local church or food pantry needs that money more than this mega-station.