Leon Fontaine appointed CEO of Miracle Channel
By ChristianWeek Staff | Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Leon Fontaine pastors Springs Church in Winnipeg.
LETHBRIDGE, ABMega-church pastor Leon Fontaine is the new chief executive officer of the Miracle Channel.
Fontaine officially takes on the role at the Christian television station January 1, succeeding interim CEO and current board chair Mervyn Mediwake.
The Miracle Channel has been through some "rough waters" as of late, says Mediwake, and he is confident that Fontaine will help the station get back on track.
"We'd like to [attract] the younger generation. They need to hear a convincing story spoken in a language they understand. Leon is really a leader in demand. We really believe he will bring in a [younger] demographic."
The Lethbridge-based station broadcasts via satellite and cable throughout North America and internationally. However, a financial downturnan estimated drop of $3 to $4 million, estimates Mediwakeled to some staff layoffs and the cancellation of at least one cable agreement.
And in 2007, founder and then-president Dick Dewert resigned following revelations of an extra-marital affair.
However, says Mediwake, things are looking up for the new year.
"We've been able to contact some of the [donors] and it's turned around. Not back to our glory days. We lost some staff. But this year has been the best year…operationally for the last three years."
He estimates the station would bring in about $5 million by the end of December and "that's really, really good from where we were." Anecdotal figures put viewership in the range of 7.5 to 12.5 million.
"We believe it is the Lord's work and He'll provide the resources," says Mediwake. "I like to think Leon is one of those resources the Lord has brought to us."
Mediwake says as of mid-December the board and Fontaine hadn't "really seriously talked about salary," but indicated Fontaine "will be taken care of." He declined to reveal what top executives at the channel are paid.
Fontaine and his wife Sally have been senior pastors of Springs Church in Winnipeg since 1994. It recently opened a new campus in Calgary. Fontaine also travels extensively around the world to teach and train business and church leaders.
The media-savvy church is home to a major television ministry. Fontaine's sermons are broadcast across North America and internationally and are part of a variety of materials available online.
While Fontaine's media experience is a definite asset, Mediwake is quick to point out that Miracle Channel is not a part of Springs Church or vice versa because Fontaine is on board. And he has no worries about Fontaine's heavy workload, with four other executives at the station handling day-to-day operations.
Fontaine is "a leader who gives responsibility and gets things done through other leaders," he says. "I'm sure he will have no problem handling this."
Fontaine could not be immediately reached for comment.