OMAHA (KVSS/SNR) - Shortly after Spirit Catholic Radio made its debut in the Lincoln Diocese in 2009, Father Scott Courtney knew the Holy Spirit would be working through this modern means of communication.
"I can’t imagine not having it now. The devotions and other offerings this radio ministry provides is like having a spiritual director with you 24/7," said the pastor of St. Anthony Church in Steinauer and Sacred Heart Church in Burchard, and co-host of Live Greater heard on KVSS.
"The station encourages people to grow in their faith, and many are."
So when the results of a recent Spirit Catholic Radio survey showed that 94 percent of the respondents said they spend more time in prayer because of the influence of Catholic radio, Father Courtney wasn’t surprised.
"That statistic alone shows that this radio station is a viable instrument to preach the gospel," he said.
The Sprit Catholic Radio Network (SCRN) initiated a listener survey over the course of six weeks this past spring, sanctioned by the VSS Catholic Communications board of directors. Karen Dwyer, PhD, of the University of Nebraska at Omaha (who also serves on both the board and programming committee), shared her expertise in the development of the survey and analyzing the results. Nearly 1,100 people took the survey, which equates to a nearly 20 percent response rate from the 6,100 listeners directly solicited to participate.
"Up to now, we’ve just been passing on to others what we hear from listeners via e-mail, phone calls or personal visits about the impact of this station," explained John Soukup, SCRN Lincoln and Central Nebraska station director. "Now we have documented proof that Spirit Catholic Radio is making a positive difference in the faith lives of many, and in many different ways."
When respondents were asked how Catholic radio had impacted their faith life:
u63 percent reported increased Eucharistic Adoration
u62 percent reported increased Confession attendance
u60 percent reported increased Mass attendance
u51 percent reported increased involvement in parish life
u129 people said they considered a vocation to the priesthood or religious life
u78 people said they converted to the Catholic Faith
u335 reported attending a bible study or prayer group
"Over the years, we had heard of people being influenced by the station in their discernment of the priesthood or religious life, but to see that nearly 130 people say they were impacted by the station is amazing," said SCRN executive director Jim Carroll. "This was a snap-shot in time of just six weeks. You have to wonder how many others are going through the discernment process because of this station who did not respond to the survey."
When it comes to Spirit Catholic Radio’s impact on changes made in their life:
u66 percent reported attending a Catholic speaker or conference
u61 percent reported increased charitable giving
u58 percent reported increased giving of time and talent
u57 percent reported becoming MORE pro-life
u56 percent reported that it helped them teach their children
u51 percent reported clothing naked, visiting sick, and feeding hungry
"The fact that so many have reported an increase in charitable giving shows that this station is helping listeners understand the importance of stewardship," explained Bernie Schaefer, SCRN development director. "That means our parishes and other ministries are benefiting from more people looking for ways to give back to God."
The survey also indicated that:
u127 people reported that Catholic radio had an impact on saving their marriage
u84 people reported Catholic radio had an impact on reducing suicidal thoughts
u128 said Catholic radio had an impact on practicing Natural Family Planning
Mr. Carroll said it’s wonderful to see how the Holy Spirit is using this apostolate to impact the family, "And maybe give listeners that seed of faith that grows in the light of Christ and change lives."
Survey respondents were also asked to rank what has had the most positive impact on their faith lives, including more than 120 priests who also took the survey. Mr. Carroll said he understands there is a bias in the answers since listeners were the ones mainly taking the survey. He also noted that, while lay people rank Spirit Catholic Radio at number two, it’s understandable that priests would rank the radio ministry at number nine.
"While we enjoy the support of our bishops and priests, and think many feel the station provides another tool for their congregations to further the faith, they don’t have as much time to tune-in. Still, Catholic radio ranks in their top 10!"
An overwhelming amount of data was collected on people’s listening habits, favorite programs, areas for growth, new program ideas and data about the types of programs that are most effective in meeting the mission of the station. SCRN management is discerning through this information and will be making changes to the programming to more effectively impart the Gospel.
"We will be sharing this information with listeners over the coming months and make a few program changes," said Bruce McGregor, program director for the network.
Spirit Catholic Radio first went on the air in Omaha in 1999 on a small, 500-watt signal. In 2009, the station boosted its reach with the 50,000-watt Spirit 102.7 FM signal. Over a year ago, Spirit 91.5 FM went on the air in central Nebraska (Grand Island), and that signal was recently upgraded to more than 11,000 watts to reach Hastings, Kearney, Grand Island, and all points in between. Spirit 88.3 FM, a 100,000-watt signal in Hartington, went on the air this past July in northeast Nebraska.
Nearly 75 percent of Nebraska’s population, and 280,000 potential listeners in Iowa, now have access to Spirit Catholic Radio and its mission of bringing Christ to people and people to Christ.
Survey Says: Catholic Radio is Having an Impact