Harold Camping was not the initial founder of Family Radio, and that may be just one of countless facts about his life.
Married with 7 children and 24 grandchildren, the 89-year-old preacher is a former civil engineer and graduate from UC Berkeley in 1942. He had no prior theological education.
After WWII, Camping began a construction company, Camping Construction Company. The company's whereabouts remain uncertain, with few search results and a lawsuit between Camping Construction and Labor Unions in the 1980's, and some possible lawsuits relating to asbestos injuries of workers.
The Family Stations, Inc. was originally founded by Richard Palmquist, who asked Camping to help finance the start of a Christian radio station in San Francisco, April 1958. In 1964, Camping established himself in the corporation.
In 1978, Camping sold the original station KEAR to CBS Inc. for $2 million. It was a three way transfer of Family Radio picking up radio station KMPX for $1 million as CBS Inc. sold its KCBS-FM to the Golden Gate Radio company for $850,000.
Since 1961 Camping hosted the Open Forum program, which served as the main platform he uses to teach his theological doctrines. Family Radio headquarters was moved to Oakland, blending Camping Construction Company's headquarters.
After serving as an elder and a Bible teacher at Alameda Bible Fellowship, Camping was expelled from the church in 1988, when he started his first doomsday prediction of 1994.
Camping is said to have sold his construction company to devote his life to Family Radio, but the timing of the sales has never been announced.
The Family Radio network is worth about $122 million in 2010.
Below are two anonymous statements written by employees at Family Radio in the mid 1990's, according to John S. Torell, the founder and president of European-American Evangelistic Crusades.
I am a Family Radio employee. You probably already know that some of us who disagree with Mr. Camping are staying on at Family Radio (for now) in the hopes that there will soon be some pieces to pick up and rebuild what has arguably been the premier radio outlet for the gospel message in much of the United States. We do our jobs as well as we can under the circumstances, not hiding our disagreement, but bearing up under the pressure to conform to a blasphemous heresy. It is our hope for the future that keeps us here, not cowardice and not agreement with Camping. There are many ways to work toward the goal of restoring the orthodox gospel message to Family Radio, and some of us have chosen to remain for now. Rest assured that if the time comes when it is clear that there is no hope of the true gospel being restored to Family Radio, I will leave, not looking back.
I know quite a lot about this subject, since I've been an employee of Family Radio for 18 years. You don't know the pain we've been going through. The 1994? debacle was bad. I've personally been verbally assaulted by people in the church who assume I agree with Harold Camping, because I work for Family Radio. I calmly try to tell them that, no, I do *not* agree with him. But now it's worse. Now Family Radio employees are hearing things like Hey man, you work for a cult. Why don't you quit? The answer is: most of the people that work for F.R feel that Mr. Camping is just plain wrong, or has gone delusional in his advanced age. We are praying that the board of directors will do something about the situation. In the meantime, we are holding on - waiting for the situation to be resolved so we can rebuild Family Radio to the faithful ministry it used to be. We aren't quitting in droves because we feel that Family Radio is still doing a lot of good, and still deserves to be supported. Yes, in the future if things get worse (and believe me, they can) then the decision to leave will become more attractive. That is a personal decision. But the point here is that the attention so far has been on how Mr. Camping's teaching has degenerated, and not on the faithful employees who are trying to do God's will under bad circumstances.