2012 could be a big year for Catholic Radio in the Diocese of Owensboro (and throughout the United States)!
This summer, the FCC will be opening a window for applications for new low power FM stations, such as WIMM. This opportunity occurs less than once a decade, so if our Diocese is to make this ministry apart of our efforts in the New Evangelization, we need to get to work now. Catholic Radio is a very effective means of evangelization. Dollar for dollar radio costs less than any other medium; it reaches more people in less time for less money with less staff.
In case you missed my article from the April addition of the Western Kentucky Catholic newspaper, you can read a reprint below.
The Publishers generously provided me an opportunity to write about the impact of Catholic Radio and how Catholic Radio can be become a reality for the rest our our Diocese. Many thanks to the staff of the Pastoral Center and the WKC for providing this opportunity.
If you know anyone in Bowling Green, Paducah, or anywhere else in our diocese who you think may be interested in starting a Catholic Radio station in their own community, forward this article to them or have them contact us at WIMM. They can also contact the Catholic Radio Association through this website: http://www.makeyourvoiceheard.net/. This website was created by the Episcopal Advisory Board of the Catholic Radio Assn and has a lot of more in depth info.
President, Owensboro Catholic Radio
As published in the Western Kentucky Catholic newspaper:
Is God Calling You to Spread the Gospel to your local community? Its easy with Low Power FM
I was a lapsed Catholic and a Medical student stuck in Lexington traffic during my drive home from the hospital. It was a slow day for UK athletics so I pressed the “scan” button on my car radio hoping to find the latest in UK basketball recruiting news when I found something that changed my life.
Just a few weeks prior I began dating the women of my dreams. She was an on-fire Evangelical protestant and as our relationship deepened, questions of faith began to arise. One day, she asked a question that awoke me from my spiritual slumber. “You know Matt, it does not bother me that Catholics believe things that are not in the bible, what bothers me is when Catholics believe things that contradict the bible. Like purgatory, that completely contradicts the bible! How do you explain that?”
I was speechless, unable to mount even a basic defense of Catholic doctrine. It suddenly became apparent that I knew next to nothing about my faith. If this relationship was going to work out, I had to “book-up”. I went to the library, I met with a local priest, and I looked everywhere I could think of to try to find specific answers to her questions. I was not having much luck.
Then I hit the “scan” button and it landed on WMJR, Catholic Radio in Lexington, Ky. The topic of that episode was “Purgatory in the Bible”. I was immediately hooked and spent the next hour joyfully driving around Lexington soaking up the information. I had never heard such a clear and winsome explanation of any Catholic doctrine.
That day my life changed. I could not wait to share what I learned with my girlfriend. This was truly the start of my love affair with the Catholicism. Heavy traffic never felt so good! Over the next two years, I would tune in every day to Catholic Radio and then share what I learned with my girlfriend. The more I listened, the more I desired to learn and practice and share the glories of the Catholic Faith. Not only did Catholic radio lead me back to the sacraments and the practice of Catholicism, but my girlfriend later was Confirmed in the Catholic Church and we were married.
The Holy Spirit used Catholic Radio to call my wife and I home to the Catholic Church. Could the Holy Spirit be calling you to answer the call of the New Evangelization with Catholic Radio in your community?
I share my story with you in hopes that you will consider a once in a lifetime opportunity to expand Catholic Radio throughout the Diocese of Owensboro. This summer the FCC will open a window to submit applications for new Low Power FM station. This is an opportunity that occurs less than once a decade. There will be dozens available in our Diocese, but we must act soon.
Low Power FM, like WIMM in Owensboro or WSPP in Hopkinsville, is the cheapest and easiest way to start a radio station. As a low power station, they have a range of approximately 7-15 miles, enough to serve most small to midsized cites. This form of a radio station has the fewest regulations and is the easiest to operate.
Why Catholic Radio?
If radio is not highly influential, then why would those seeking a return on their investment sink billions of dollars into a medium of communication that did not influence those it reached? Would advertisers, whose sole purpose in advertising is to convince listeners to buy their product or service, spend billions of their marketing dollars on radio advertising each year if it had not proven to be particularly effective in driving consumers to their respective products?
The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council understood the emerging role of media in evangelizing the world when they wrote, “The most important of these inventions are those media which, such as radio…, can, of their very nature, reach and influence, not only individuals, but the very masses and the whole of human society” (Inter Mirifica, 1)
Today, even with all the competing media outlets, radio remains the most influential. A 2011 Arbitron study on media consumption showed 93% of Americans listen to AM/FM radio daily. As a medium, radio is uniquely capable of offering in-depth content in a fast paced world. Furthermore, radio has distinctive access to a diverse group of people of many different religions, ethnicities, ages, and walks of life. Finally, Catholic Radio is cost effective. Dollar for dollar radio costs less than any other medium; it reaches more people in less time for less money with less staff.
As Pope Benedict XVI wrote in his 2008 message to Catholic Radio broadcasters, “ The words which you transmit reach countless people, some of whom are alone and for whom your word comes as a consoling gift, some of whom are curious and are intrigued by what they hear, some of whom never attend church because they belong to different religions or to no religion at all, and others still who have never heard the name of Jesus Christ, yet through your service first come to hear the words of salvation.”
On this side of heaven, we will never know when the Holy Spirit prompts someone to press the “scan” button on their car radio only to find a message that draws them closer to God.
The Fruits of Catholic Radio
In 2010 over 3,500 Catholic Radio listeners were polled about how Catholic Radio has impacted them. As you read the statistics, apply them to your local community and imaging the effect of Catholic Radio.
- 94% say I am more spiritually engaged and inspired
- 38% say I’ve learned more about my faith from Catholic Radio than from any other source
- 29% say I have come back to the Church
- 48% say I attend mass more often
- 52% say I am more active in my parish
- 40% say I tithe more
- 63% say I am better equipped to pass on the Catholic Faith to my kids
How to get started?
The FCC requires that applicants for low power FM must be a non-profit entity with an educational goal, which would be furthered by the station. This could be an unincorporated association, prayer group, parish, school, Knights of Columbus Home Corporation, etc. The residence of the entity members must be within 10 miles of the proposed station transmitting antenna.
The cost to engineer and apply for the license will likely be $900-1500. It takes the FCC about 18 months to process the application and award the stations. Once the station is awarded, the upfront costs to purchase the transmitting equipment are $10-15,000. Ongoing costs run from $600-1000 per month.
At WIMM, our overhead is covered by area businesses who underwrite our programming in exchange for on-air publicity. We also receive private donations from our listeners primarily through participation in the National Catholic Radiothon that is produced and organized by the Catholic Radio Association.
No one of the board of WIMM has any training in radio. With modern technology and the assistance of the Catholic Radio Association and EWTN, station operation is very simple. Basically, the station runs on autopilot. Our satellite receives the signal from the EWTN radio network and retransmits the signal through our antenna. More work is required for original programming. However, this can be done with basic recording equipment available on a home computer. We do not even have a studio.
The time commitment of a board member is reasonable. I have a full time medical practice, three boys under 6, coach sports and still have time to maintain the radio station. Like any ministry, if we take on more projects it will take more time. But once the station is up and running, there is minimal routine caretaking required to maintain basic operation.
If you feel the Holy Spirit may be calling you to take a unique role in the New Evangelization, consider starting a low power FM station in your community. More information on the impact of Catholic Radio and how you can start one in your community can be found at www.makeyourvoiceheard.net, a website inspired by the Episcopal Advisory Board of the Catholic Radio Association. The Catholic Radio Association stands ready to assist any local community in starting this process. You may also contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.