Today marks the end of an eventful chapter in The Christian Science Monitor's 89 year history.
Monitor Radio, our broadcast arm, is closing after 13 years of providing in-depth news and analysis to listeners around the globe. Our radio service brought the Monitor the largest audience it has ever enjoyed.
In the United States, Monitor Radio reached 1.1 million listeners a week on more than 200 public radio stations. The programs won numerous journalism awards and attracted financial support from the J.M. Smucker Co. and the Ford, Powell, Pew, and MacArthur Foundations, among others.
Outside the US, Monitor Radio was heard in Europe, Asia, and Africa over the two shortwave stations owned by the Church of Christ, Scientist, which publishes this paper. The church is selling both WSHB in Pineland, S.C., and KHBI on the island of Saipan.
When our radio news operations stop, the church will continue to broadcast religious programs on our shortwave stations until they are sold. Then the church will provide religious programs to selected US and international audiences on air time purchased from other broadcasters.
There are two key reasons for the changes in broadcasting operations we announced April 14.
First, shortwave listening has declined in many areas since the fall of the Berlin Wall, making it more efficient to reach international listeners in other ways.
Second, the church needed to balance its desire to serve a radio audience with the need to support other parts of its worldwide healing ministry and to strengthen this newspaper. The most recent published figures on Monitor Radio put costs at roughly $9 million while income from stations and underwriters totaled under $1 million.
Mary Baker Eddy, who founded the Christian Science Church, set the Monitor on its trailblazing course of unselfish service through journalism. Her church remains deeply committed to that mission, as can be seen by the level of help provided to the Monitor. In the coming year, the church will commit $17 million to supporting the newspaper and its increasingly popular site on the Internet (www.csmonitor.com).
This fall we plan to gradually introduce a variety of improvements in the paper, designed to make it even more useful to our readers. We are also planning steps to make members of the Christian Science Church and the general public more aware of the unique service it offers. Our goal is to broaden the Monitor's circulation and strengthen its advertising base.
Mrs. Eddy issued directives requiring that all her periodicals, including the Monitor, be kept abreast of the times. For the Monitor to be faithful to that call, we must find cost- effective ways to reach the many millions of news consumers who want information delivered to them in broadcast forms. Starting next month, a team of staff members will investigate various ways of bringing the Monitor to a broadcast audience in a manner that can become self-supporting.
We welcome any ideas from readers or listeners.
THE Monitor has a long history in radio, having begun AM news broadcasts in 1929. From 1985 to 1992 the Monitor engaged in a variety of television activities, which ended when The Monitor Channel, our cable news outlet, closed after being unable to secure outside funding. During its brief history, Monitor Television won both a Peabody award and a national news Emmy for international news coverage.
Despite the difficult lessons we learned in broadcasting, we remain joyously convinced that The Christian Science Monitor has something special to offer the world of broadcast news. What it has are the unique values that spring from Mrs. Eddy's call for the Monitor "to injure no man, but to bless all mankind."
In the coming months, we will keep you informed on our efforts to strengthen our newspaper and to bring the Monitor's constructive voice once again to listeners and viewers hungering for broadcast news that blesses the whole family.
David T. Cook