In 1951, Jarrell McCracken, then a 22-year-old entrepreneur, cut a record called “The Game of Life,” a play-by-play account of an imaginary football game between the forces of good and evil. With that, Word Records was launched. Word, Inc., has since become one of the largest and most highly regarded producers of Christian records and books.

Last month McCracken resigned from the company he founded. He was replaced by Gary Ingersoll, who will leave his posts as president of the American Broadcasting Company’s (ABC) agricultural publishing division and president of ABC-owned Hitchcock Publishing in suburban Chicago.

This development has raised questions similar to those raised in 1974 when Word was sold to ABC. There were fears Word would lose its Christian distinctives under ABC ownership, but that has not happened.

In an interview following his resignation, McCracken said ABC “lived up to all they promised and more.” But last year ABC was bought out by Capital Cities Communications, Inc. McCracken said this “created a definite unknown and a change in atmosphere.” And he speculated that had this development not occurred, he might still be at Word.

However, Robert Burton, president of ABC Publishing, said Capital Cities “does not bother my business.” Burton said any decisions that may have led to McCracken’s resignation “were made by myself.”

Burton said he was deeply appreciative of McCracken’s contributions to Word, and he stressed there would be “no change whatsoever” in Word’s mission or philosophy. “I was born and raised in the Baptist church,” he said, stating that he is “a personal friend of Billy Graham’s” and “a strong believer in what Word stands for.”

In reference to Word, however, Burton added, “We have to do a better job running our business from a profit standpoint.” He said that since coming to ABC, it has been his objective to make Word “a more profitable contributor to the ABC publishing family.” He said he believes Ingersoll, McCracken’s replacement, will accomplish that goal.

Ingersoll has proved his skills as a manager to ABC. “I was selected to give Word a little more of a business approach to what they do,” he said. “We have to pay a little more attention to costs.”

Word, Inc., has been financially profitable, but Word officials said corporate policy prohibits them from providing specific figures. Under McCracken’s leadership, Word has been regarded as one of the most successful Christian publishers.

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