Fr. Peter J. Daly
June 24, 2003
Something is happening in Catholic radio. The Holy Spirit seems to be moving lay Catholics to a new kind of evangelization on the airwaves.
ago there were only four Catholic radio stations in the
Ten years from now, according to Gene Zurlo, Chairman and co-founder of the Catholic Radio Association of Green Bay, Wisconsin, “We will, God willing, be talking about 1000 Catholic stations nationwide.”
this month I journeyed to
There were about 200 people at the conference in a hotel ballroom. Five years ago, at the first Catholic Radio Conference there were only a dozen people who met in a small conference room according to Michael Warsaw the President of EWTN.
The Catholic radio movement is led almost entirely by lay people. I was one of only a handful or priests. I traveled with two laymen from my parish who have an interest in starting a station. There were no bishops in attendance.
Christians have known the power of the airwaves to get the good news out
for a long time. Today there are over 1,500 “Christian” radio stations in the
But some of
the programming is blatantly anti-Catholic, especially in the Bible-Belt, where
they spend a lot of air time attacking the Pope as the “anti-Christ” and the
Church as the “whore of
Until recently a Catholic could ride all the way across and not hear a single Catholic station. Even today, most Catholic stations are in smaller towns and rural areas and have very limited range. There is very little Catholic radio in the major (top 25) markets.
For years there was a chicken and egg problem. You couldn’t have Catholic radio stations without programs to put out over the airwaves. But you couldn’t create programs without some stations to play them on.
The programming logjam was broken by several groups, including EWTN radio, a spin off from the television service started by Mother Angelica.
Whatever you might think of Mother Angelica, you have to give her credit. She steps out in faith.
Less than a decade ago she launched
a short-wave radio station with the call letters WEWN from a mountaintop in
Some other groups are now also
providing programming. The Starboard Network, in the upper
With more programs available, more stations are coming on the air. When the FCC opened up low power FM station licenses recently, even small colleges and rural parishes could suddenly operate a Catholic radio station to serve their campus or town.
The Holy Spirit is definitely in the air and on the air. In a few years, it will be possible to drive coast to coast and never be out of range of Catholic radio. It’s about time.