Tuesday, Jun 2, 2020

Largest Christian Radio Company Faces Financial Crisis Due to Coronavirus Downturn

Salem Media makes cuts as more churches and ministries pull spending during the pandemic.

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The largest Christian radio company in the United States suffered a major financial blow as ongoing industry challenges collided with the economic impact of COVID-19.

Salem Media Group reaches an estimated 298 million weekly listeners on 3,100 stations branded as The Fish, The Answer, Faith Talk, and more. The mega-broadcaster rose to dominance with a revenue model that protected it from some of the ad volatility suffered by its secular counterparts, but that hasn’t been enough in this recent downturn.

Salem’s share price has dropped from a high of about $30 in 2004 to about $6 in 2018 and to 80 cents on Monday. The company’s investment value has been downgraded to “poor quality” and “high risk” by Moody’s, a top credit ratings agency.

On Tuesday the board of directors announced that it would temporarily suspend quarterly payments of dividends to shareholders. The top executives’ salaries were cut by 10 percent.

Financial analyst Michael Kupinski, who specializes in media and entertainment companies, wrote that he expects Salem to “weather the storm,” but not without taking drastic measures. According to Kupinski, that could include “asset sales and aggressive cost-cutting,” such as selling off some of the 100 stations owned by Salem or laying off some of its more than 1,400 employees.

Salem did not respond to Christianity Today’s requests for comment. In its most recent financial filing, vice president and chief financial officer Evan Masyr wrote that “it is impossible to predict the total impact that the pandemic will have on our business.”

Salem airs religious programing from teachers such as Chuck Swindoll, John MacArthur, Tony Evans, …

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