Ted Turner, he's not. Though you can make some comparisons.
Ted's stations make money. So do Larry's, but not the Ted
Turner way. Rice's income comes mostly from donations - and
complicated split-barter arrangments with program syndicators - and
fees paid by televangelists and ministries who buy air time. It's a
charitable, not-for-profit enterprise, although the stations are
Ted's got a network that spans the globe. Larry's got one that
covers a whole lot of Missouri and a bit of Arkansas. He may own
more low-power broadcast properties than anyone in the state of
Ted's outspoken, ubiquitous and not-at-all camera shy. Larry .
. . well, Larry schedules himself on KNLC (Channel 24) on a typical
day for 30 minutes each at 6:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 6 p.m., 10 p.m.,
and 3:30 a.m. And that doesn't include a variety of shorter spots
throughout the day.
Now here's where the comparison really disintegrates. Rice owns
no ballclubs, would never be caught doing a tomahawk chop and has
had fantods over civic support for our beloved Rams. And then
there's the network staff. No suits in suites, no Larry Kings nor
Wolf Blitzers, no James Earl Jones voiceovers.
Rice is fond of saying "a man and his wife, a blind woman and
15 homeless people" run the Homeless Express Television and Radio
It's a statewide system of low-power TV stations extending well
beyond the homeless shelter and TV station at Rice's New Life
Evangelistic Center at 1411 Locust Street in downtown St. Louis.
Rice and his wife, Penny, are the couple behind the station.
And the blind woman is Judy Redlich, a former gospel-folk singer,
now director of sales and development for Channel 24. She's also
the wife of the Rev. Ray Redlich, vice president of New Life. The
Redlichs also run the family shelter at 5811 Michigan Avenue in
south St. Louis.
The homeless include such people as Victor Anderson, who came
through the New Life program out of Illinois and now is on the KNLC
payroll, as program director.
KNLC and KNLJ (Channel 25) in Jefferson City, operated by Penny
Rice, are full-power TV stations. Rice's little media empire
extends to Eureka Springs, Ark., where he has a TV station and a
radio station featuring gospel music.
He's building two more low-power stations, in Joplin and
Aurora, Mo., to go with his homeless network outlets in Jefferson
City-Columbia, Branson, Springfield, Marshfield (where he also has
a radio station), Lebanon and Osage Beach. Many of the stations
also have shelters. The homeless who work and train for outside
employment at the stations are not paid. But they are given room
All this leads to speculation about Rice's net worth. He finds
"You want to see the network presidential suite?" he asks,
unlocking the padlock and opening the door to a fairly monastic
second-floor room at the Locust Street shelter, a well-used
building frayed at the edges.
A double bed with pink bedspread and an old dresser are in the
room, and two windows look out into a courtyard. This is where
Larry and Penny Rice stay when they're not at their new house and
TV station in New Bloomfield, 10 miles northeast of Jefferson City
on Highway 54.
According to Rice, here's the '94 balance sheet for his
operations, both TV and his ministries:
"In the black, but we're very close," says James Barnes, the
man who runs the St. Louis station and has the title media
Rice calls Interstate 70 his home. He drives a used, black Ford
Taurus with 113,000 miles on it; with a car phone, files and
Bible, it's his office. His old white Taurus was decommissioned
with 220,000 miles on it. Rice estimates he drives 60,000 to 65,000
miles a year - between his shelters and free shops, to his TV and
radio stations, and on frequent prison visits. …