Larry Rice Is Quietly Building a Radio Empire
Garino, David P., St. Louis Journalism Review
While national commercial TV networks such as Fox and the WB have been expanding with much fanfare, a locally based broadcast network operated by Rev. Larry Rice's New Life Evangelistic Center (NLEC) has been growing quietly.
From its initial television station that went on the air in September 1982, KNLC (Channel 24), the network has increased to 11 television stations and four radio stations in Missouri and Arkansas. Moreover, the NLEC is embarking on a major thrust into the noncommercial FM field. Rev. Rice's organization has constructed noncommercial FM stations in Marshfield and New Bloomfield, Mo., and has construction permits or applications pending for five other stations, including one in East St. Louis. This expansion is financed primarily by contributions from individuals.
As would be expected, Rev. Rice's network isn't typical of broadcasting executives' approach to the media.
"Our television and radio stations aren't ends in themselves, but are simply tools to assist in our ministry to the homeless, mentally ill and others who are suffering." he emphasizes.
Also not surprisingly, NLEC's stations are called "The Here's Help Network."
The broadcasting properties contribute to the ministry's mission on two different levels. The more apparent is the use of the media to communicate the plight of the homeless and others to viewers and listeners. On Thanksgiving, for instance, instead of parades and football games, Channel 24 broadcast live - for three hours - its annual dinner at NLEC headquarters in downtown St. Louis.
Not as obvious is providing on-the-job training for the homeless at the television and radio stations. The basic training program lasts two years, but three to four years represent the preferred timeframe. "Our program offers the poor and homeless an opportunity to use their God-given skills. For the most part, they have been written off by society," Rev. Rice asserts.
The education efforts are supplemented by trade-outs with educational institutions. In return for advertisements, the NLEC receives free courses for its constituencies. "We don't have stockholders, but our people receive direct benefits from courses, leading to a GED or college degree," Rev. …