OAKLAND (CBS/AP) – Judgement day may finally be at hand for a California evangelical radio network used by a preacher to predict—incorrectly—the apocalypse.
Oakland-based Family Radio has sold its three largest radio stations, and tax records show the nonprofit network saw its net assets drop to $29.2 million by the end of 2011, from a net worth of $135 million four years earlier.
The radio network is run by Harold Camping, who predicted the world would end on May 21, 2011, only to later concede he had no evidence of an impending apocalypse. The network spent millions of dollars—some of it from donations made by followers—putting up thousands of billboards plastered with the Judgment Day message.
Some of Camping’s followers quit their jobs or donated some of their retirement savings or college funds to support the ads.
Camping, 91, suffered a stroke at his Alameda home after his prediction did not materialize and has since said he has no more interest in considering future dates for the end of the world.
By the end of 2011, Family Radio had a little less than $283,000 in cash on hand, down from $1.5 million at the start of the year and $2.5 million at the end of 2008, according to published reports. In 2012, records show it took out a $30 million bridge loan to keep operating while awaiting money from the sale of the stations.
Board member Tom Evans, who has taken over operation of the network since Camping’s stroke, said the network is hurting during the economic slowdown like other nonprofits. But he said it is not closing.
“Sufficient funds were in the bank and, thankfully, we didn’t spend everything,” he said, referring to the May 2011 prediction. “But it did force us to make quick changes.”
Evans said the nonprofit would be more efficient going forward.
Family Radio, founded more than a half-century ago, had 66 full-service radio stations, more than 100 FM broadcast relay stations and a handful of television stations across the country at one point.
There were no commercials, giving listeners nonstop Christian programming. The network relied on donations.
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