LINCOLN (SNR/KVSS) – When Spirit Catholic Radio went on the air two years ago on Spirit 102.7 FM, the Gospel reading for that day included the words, “Anyone who has ears ought to hear…” (Mark 4:21-25).
That was January 29, 2009, a day that began a new chapter in the history of KVSS, and a new radio station to the Diocese of Lincoln where many ears have heard “Catholic Radio for the Christian Community.”
“Catholic radio was much anticipated in the Diocese of Lincoln, and we have not been disappointed,” said Msgr. Timothy Thorburn, vicar general of the Diocese of Lincoln. “In fact, our expectations have been far exceeded. In KVSS, we have a faithful, professional, instructive and entertaining Catholic “evangelizer” that has the potential to enter tens of thousands of homes of Catholics and non-Catholics alike.”
KVSS (VSS stands for Veni, Sancte Spiritus – Come, Holy Spirit), was the ninth Catholic radio station to go on the air in the U.S. 12 years ago, and began broadcasting in Omaha with just a 60-foot telephone pole to transmit a weak, 500-watt signal. In comparison, Spirit 102.7 FM now transmits from a 1,500-foot tower at 50,000 watts and is heard by more than a million potential listeners in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa.
In addition, a year ago Spirit 91.5 FM KJWM went on the air in central Nebraska, and Spirit 98.3 FM is heard in Norfolk. These signals are all part of the Spirit Catholic Radio Network.
Network on the Grow
Two major expansion projects headline Spirit Catholic Radio efforts for 2011.
“We hope to significantly enhance the Spirit 91.5 FM signal in central Nebraska so that it reaches more people in the Lincoln and Grand Island Dioceses,” explained Lincoln/Grand Island Station Director John Soukup. “Hastings, Minden, Holdrege, Kearney, Loup City, and St. Paul are among the cities that will be impacted by the signal which will be upgraded from 1,500 watts to 11,400 watts and reach a 72-mile radius around Wood River where the broadcast tower is located.” Central Nebraska supporters have just $35,000 left to be raised to reach the $160,000 goal for the upgrade.
In northeast Nebraska, the halfway point in fundraising has also been reached, thanks to supporters in that part of the state. Spirit Catholic Radio Development Director Bernie Schaefer said once the $280,000 goal is reached, a 100,000-watt signal will broadcast programming on Spirit 88.3 FM KOLB.
“With these two projects completed,” he said, “the Spirit Catholic Radio Network will reach about 72 percent of Nebraska’s population.”
Local volunteers and some priests in the new coverage areas are helping to build awareness and working with their parishes to raise the necessary funds to complete these expansion projects. Both fundraising efforts are scheduled to wrap up March 1.
Msgr. Thorburn said he’s pleased to see the Spirit Catholic Radio Network grow. “Catholic Radio provides the community with an accurate picture of Catholic belief that dispels the many mistaken ideas that some non-Catholics have about what we believe,” he explained. “I have heard of many conversions and “re-versions” to the Catholic faith that can be traced directly to the presence of Spirit Catholic Radio in our area. Truly, KVSS is a blessing to us all.”
A New Homepage and Home Studio
To better reflect the growing coverage area and the listeners that reside in four different dioceses (Lincoln, Omaha, Grand Island, and Des Moines), the network is developing a new website. Currently under construction, the site will be located at spiritcatholicradio.com and will be launched in a few months.
In addition, the Omaha Studios at 5829 N. 60th Street will move to near 133rd and A streets in Omaha.
“We knew God had brought us to this new building when we saw the attached garage big enough to house our Bluebird Mobile Studio motor home,” laughed Spirit Catholic Radio Network Executive Director Jim Carroll. “In addition, we were looking for a location that was a little easier to access by our listeners and staff. Also, with the help of some generous supporters, we will own this building.” Mr. Carroll said the move to the location will take place sometime this fall.
The radio station also has a studio and office in Lincoln at 23rd and O streets in the Catholic Social Services building, and in Grand Island at 828 North Diers Avenue.
Billboard on Wheels
The Bluebird Mobile Studio will be logging more miles in the New Year. This 40-foot deluxe motor home was donated to the station last summer and was “wrapped” with the station’s billboard artwork.
“It has been quite an attention-getter when we’ve taken it on the road to visit different places like Catholic schools and churches in the coverage area,” said Mr. Carroll. “It’s a tool of evangelization in-and-of itself as people see the frequency advertised and tune-in to see what it’s all about.”
Frugality Fueled by Prayer
As a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization, KVSS relies solely on private donations and underwriting (advertising) to stay on the air. To do this, the station keeps its operational budget at about one fifth that of a commercial station of the same size. Its gifts of support and prayer that are credited with helping the station reach more and more people like these:
“I’m new to Spirit Radio and I’m enjoying the opportunity to have Catholic programming available on my journey back to the Catholic Church.” (From an Internet listener in Kansas)
“I like being fed spiritually and learning things I never knew about the faith I grew up with.” (From a listener in eastern Nebraska)
“I’ve been frustrated about the misconceptions that so many Protestants have about the Catholic Church. I believe Spirit Catholic Radio will be a way people can hear what we really believe.” (From a supporter waiting to get the station in central Nebraska)
“We can only credit the Holy Spirit and His guidance for bringing us to where we are today and where we’re going in the future,” concluded Mr. Carroll. “It’s the prayers and support of so many that continue to allow this radio apostolate to fulfill its mission of bringing Christ to people and people to Christ.”
Spirit 102.7 FM Celebrates Second Year on the Air