Diocesan News

Catholic parishes apply for low-power FM stations to expand Catholic radio reach

(KVSS) - Catholic radio already exists in much of Nebraska, but soon it will extend to cities across the entire state.

Ten Nebraska communities – including five in the Lincoln Diocese – recently applied to own low-power FM stations that will feature Catholic radio. The communities of Beatrice, Holdrege, York, Imperial and McCook, as well as four in the Grand Island Diocese, will stream Omaha-based Spirit Catholic Radio. The community of Creighton in the Archdiocese of Omaha will stream only local programming.

Each community must raise between $15,000 and $20,000 for the equipment and installation of the 100-watt signals, which have a 7- to 10-mile radius. The Creighton community will have to raise more for studio space. The ongoing monthly fee will be about $150, which will include electricity, Internet, insurance and music license fees.

Father Gary Brethour, pastor of St. Ann, St. Patrick and Sacred Heart parishes in McCook, said he hopes raising money will not be an issue.

“I think there are several people in the area who are looking forward to the station becoming a reality and will gladly donate,” he said. “They know about Spirit Catholic Radio from family or friends in areas already covered by the signal.”

Each parish with a low-power FM station will have access to donated 45-ft. utility poles with 10-ft. mast extensions. Many of the poles will be located on parish property. Mark Voris, Spirit Catholic Radio’s engineer, will assist with the installation and equipment needed for the stations.

“The opportunity for these communities to have access to the Gospel message via these low-power FM stations is a Godsend,” said Jim Carroll, executive director of Spirit Catholic Radio. “These communities will be able to get on the air at a fraction of the cost of full-power FM stations, and they’ll have local ownership.”

Spirit Catholic Radio will invite the priests, apostolates and ministries from these communities to contribute to the network’s programming, he said.

“Catholic radio has the ability to touch hearts with the life-changing message of the Gospel, whether or not you’re Catholic,” Carroll said. “There is always an invitation to deepen your relationship and Encounter Jesus.”  

Last November, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) started allowing non-profit organizations to make applications to establish low-power FM stations. Nearly 3,000 applications were made from all over the United States and so far more than 2,000 permits have been granted, with new ones being granted every week. Thirty-nine applications were from Nebraska alone.

Bill Lindsay, an Omaha attorney, helped pastors in Nebraska set up new non-profit organizations with the purpose of being owners of the radio frequency. Three pastors are waiting for FCC approval, while the other seven have been granted.

Eight of the 10 new non-profits have the pastor as their president, and board members are recruiting people to get involved. Parishes are forming committees and looking for site locations.

Bishop James Conley of Lincoln said he saw the benefit of expanding the area of Catholic radio, which has been on the air in the Diocese of Lincoln for five years, and approached certain pastors about applying for a low-power FM station.

Catholic radio is a source of catechesis and formation for people, he said. To expand the coverage of what is heard on Spirit Catholic Radio is to allow more people to hear the Gospel, the rosary, and the dynamic, faithful programming that helps build missionary disciples, Bishop Conley said.  

“I’m proud and grateful for the apostolate of Catholic radio in our diocese, and I know what a difference it can make,” he said. “I pray that Catholic radio will continue to be a vital part of the new evangelization in the Diocese of Lincoln.”

Story contributed by Lisa Maxson of KVSS Spirit Catholic Radio

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