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Harold Camping
Associated Press/Photo by Marcio Jose Sanchez
Harold Camping

Failed apocalypse predictions threaten end for California radio network


Family Radio, a California-based Christian radio network, is in a financial crisis after the apocalypse failed to happen in 2011, as its founder predicted. Harold Camping, head of Family Radio, predicted the world would end on May 21, 2011, and he spent a lot of the network’s money broadcasting about it. The network spent millions of dollars on thousands of billboards with end-times messages. A lot of the money came from Camping’s followers—some of whom quit their jobs or donated their college funds or retirement savings to support the effort.

Family Radio’s net assets totaled $29.2 million at the end of 2011. Four years earlier, the network’s net assets totaled $135 million. The nonprofit has sold its three largest radio stations to help with the loss. At the end of 2011, it had less than $283,000 in cash on hand—down from $1.5 million at the start of the year. Records show a $30 million bridge loan in 2012 to keep the network afloat. 

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Camping suffered a stroke after nothing happened on his predicted apocalypse day. He later said he did not want to predict the end of the world anymore. Tom Evans, a Family Radio board member, took over operating the network after Camping’s stroke and is hopeful for it’s future. He said the May 2011 error required a quick change, but the company is making it. 

Family radio is more than 50 years old and at one point had 66 full-service radio stations, more than 100 FM broadcast relay stations, and a few television stations across the country. The network relies on donations to fund its commercial-free programming.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Rachel Cooper
Rachel Cooper

Rachel is a graduate of Auburn University, where she majored in journalism, minored in business, and rode for the school's equestrian team. She is working as a WORLD intern in Asheville, N.C.


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