When Dick Palmquist lived in Nome, Alaska, with his young family in the 1950’s, he had no intention of ever moving to California. However, when his second son was born with a hole in his heart, the doctors gave him two options: he could move his family to either Seattle or San Francisco to obtain the medical care his son needed. In spite of getting hired at KGDN, a Christian radio station in Seattle, the doctors moved his family to San Francisco.
Family friends allowed the Palmquists to live in their cabin at Mt. Hermon, a Christian camp in the Santa Cruz mountains just south of San Francisco, for a few weeks. They adjusted to their new surroundings, and Dick began to sell sacred records. It became obvious to him that people in the area were hungry for sacred music, but nothing on the radio dial satisfied their needs.
The Lord had opened Dick’s eyes and heart to the hunger for sacred music; and then, as He had placed Dick and his family (now living in Sunnyvale, CA, with his wife and 2 first sons – another son and two daughters came along later) right where He needed him, God used him to help fill that niche. As Dick tells it, “Family Stations, Inc.” was “born in the Providence of God, because I made a left-hand turn illegally!” Upset after being pulled over for the illegal maneuver, instead of continuing on to his business appointment, Dick sat and looked around. He realized that he was in the neighborhood of a man named Ray Goodwill, an insurance broker who had answered his newspaper ad with interest in joining with “Sacred Records,” a Beverly Hills, CA, company. Dick “found” his way to Ray’s house and, over supper, discussed his vision for a Christian radio outreach, and the radio station, KEAR, that was up for sale in San Francisco, CA. Ray responded, “I know just the man you need to meet! He’s one of my insurance clients!”
On April 10th, 1957, Ray brought Dick to his client Harold Camping’s office. By this time, Dick had raised $10,000 worth of stock contributions from people interested in investing in developing a commercial Christian radio station. Upon entering, Dick noticed immediately a gold-lettered plaque announcing, “Practice the Presence of Christ.” He was in the right place! Upon hearing extensively of Dick’s vision for the radio outreach, Harold made a proposition with 3 conditions: 1) KEAR was to be owned by a non-profit corporation; 2) no board member’s name would ever be publically released, so that no power-control aspect could become a point of pride; and 3) the financial details would be disclosed to the public. If those conditions would be met, making it a non-commercial, non-profit entity, with full financial disclosure, ensuring the impossibility of any member of the board of directors to ever profit financially from the station, he would agree to take on the project on an almost-full-time basis.
Excited, Dick and Harold began to work together to raise funds to make their dream of ministering over the air a reality. They prayerfully considered buying KEAR, the languishing classical music station in San Francisco; and decided to jump on purchasing it! After obtaining a permit from the FCC, the operation of KEAR was theirs.
From the moment “Family Radio” first went on the air, Dick was in a continual frenzy! Listening at home, Harold heard the first few syllables over the airwaves – then silence! Inexperienced and clumsy, Dick had accidently flipped the wrong switch, and POOF! They went off the air as suddenly as they had come on! But by God’s mercy, after a few seconds Dick recovered, and they began their ministry that would last fifty years – and counting!
In an interview, Dick said, “I firmly believe that KEAR and the resulting Family Radio ministry is entirely the work of the Lord… We kept on persevering. And the Lord has really blessed!”