The founder of the Crawford Broadcasting
Dr. Percy B. Crawford. He was a broadcast visionary. An
evangelist, Christian educator and businessman, he realized
early on the value of radio and television as a means to promote
the Gospel and to reach people.
In 1932, he founded the non-profit
organization, the “Young Peoples Church of the Air” (YPCA)
through which radio time was purchased. Dr. Crawford produced
the very first religious network radio program heard on the
Mutual Radio Network linking some 400 radio stations in every
state of the Union. That national radio network outlet was
supplemented by the purchase of broadcast time from local and
regional radio stations, and in addition to the programming of
the Young Peoples Church of the Air, Pinebrook Praises was also
broadcast live from Philadelphia for some 25 years.
In 1949, Dr. Crawford founded and
produced the first Christian television broadcast, which aired
on the ABC Television Network with outlets in virtually every
major city in America. That program continued for some four
years on the network, followed by a series of releases of the
same programming on regional and local television stations for
an additional seven years.
In 1958, Dr. Crawford devised a
strategic business plan for the purchase and acquisition of
radio stations. From 1958 to 1960, seven stations were purchased
or had construction permits issued by the FCC. The seven
original stations were located in Miami, Buffalo, Des Moines,
Portland, Chicago, Lancaster and Detroit.
Dr. Crawford passed away in 1960
after having acquired Channel 17 in Philadelphia, owned and
operated by the YPCA. His estate operated the seven radio
stations, selling three, maintaining three (Detroit, Chicago and
Lancaster), and two years after his death, building the station
in Buffalo. Ruth Crawford Porter, his wife, functioned as
Executrix but the family’s business interests were managed by
Dr. Crawford’s oldest son, Donald B. Crawford.
The company expanded rapidly from 1968 to
1979, acquiring stations in Birmingham, Houston, Dallas and
Oklahoma City through the auspices of the Young People’s Church
of the Air. In 1979, a number of stations were sold and the
remainder was divided among family members. Donald Crawford
retained ownership or an ownership interest in Detroit, Chicago,
Birmingham, Dallas and Buffalo.
In 1980, Donald Crawford acquired KBRT(AM)
in Los Angeles. This station, along with the other five, formed
the core of the Crawford Broadcasting Company from 1980 to 1991.
An expansion program began in 1991, and key purchases were made
in Portland, San Francisco, Denver, St. Louis, Rochester and
Albany. Later acquisitions were made in Chicago, Rochester,
Albany and Birmingham. The company’s rapid growth was
accomplished almost entirely through its own resources and its
considerable ability to generate cash flow.