Trinity Founder Paul Crouch Dies

Paul Crouch, 79, founder and president of the Trinity Broadcasting Network, died Nov. 30, according to TBN.

Crouch, armed with a theology degree from the Central Bible Institute and Seminary in Springfield, Missouri, combined his broadcasting background with his religious training to create a top 10 broadcast group and satellite-delivered faith-based ministry to millions, though one that took a heavy hit of criticism.

That broadcasting background began in college--the campus radio station--and continued with an announcing job at KRSD(AM) Rapid City, S.D. He was named program director of the station, then manager of KRSD-TV, the NBC affiliate in Rapid City.

In 1961, he was tapped by the Assemblies of God church to head up their new department of TV and film production.

Following that four-year stint he was named GM of KREL(AM) Corona, Calif., eventually taking a minority stake in the station. He was GM of KHOF-TV-FM San Bernardino, Calif., in 1973 when he decided to strike out on his own, founding Trinity Broadcasting along with his wife, Jan.

"Everyone at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association extend our condolences to the family of Paul Crouch, Sr., who, along with his wife, Jan, founded the Trinity Broadcast Network in 1973...He and the TBN family have been longtime friends and supporters," said the association in a statement.

"I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Paul Crouch, who was a friend for decades," said CBN Founder and Chairman Pat Robertson in a statement. "Paul was a pioneer in Christian television; the channels and studios that Paul built around the world are an incredible achievement and will live on as a permanent legacy. All of us at CBN mourn his passing and our prayers are with the Crouch family."

But TBN and Crouch were criticized along the way as well for the way they spent the donations collected on-air and how his “prosperity gospel” translated into salaries and lifestyles, including a blistering criticism from Ministry Watch, which vets church charities and donations and a lawsuit involving family.

According to TBN, there will be no public memorial service. TBN will celebrate Dr. Paul Crouch's life and legacy in a television special which will air Sunday, Dec. 8, at 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. PST and Monday, Dec. 9, at 2 p.m. PST on all the TBN networks. People can mail sympathy cards to the TBN California address: TBN, P O Box A, Santa Ana, CA 92711.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.