What Does the Church Say About Radio?
“The most important of these inventions are those media which, such as …radio, television and the like, can, of their very nature, reach and influence, not only individuals, but the very masses and the whole of human society” (Inter Mirifica, 1).
“Effective support should be given to good radio and television programs. …An effort should also be made…to set up Catholic stations” (Inter Mirifica, 14).
“This sacred Synod advises them [the laity] of the obligation they have to maintain and assist Catholic …radio and television programs and stations, whose principal objective is to spread and defend the truth and foster Christian influence in human society” (Inter Mirifica, 17).
“The Church must continue, in spite of the many difficulties involved, to develop, maintain, and foster its own specifically Catholic instruments and programs for social communications. …Catholic media work is not simply one more program alongside all the rest of the Church’s activities: social communications have a role to play in every aspect of the Church’s mission” (Aetatis Novae, 17).
Though each situation is unique, the following is a brief outline of the steps necessary in starting a Catholic radio station. Although specialized knowledge is not necessary, the process is not easy and will require a dedicated commitment of time and effort on your part.
The Catholic Radio Association was founded to specifically assist new groups establish Catholic radio in their communities. Please contact us for more guidance and information.
Prayer: The Most Important Step
Prayer is the most essential step. You must discern and seek the Lord regarding what you are about to undertake. Starting a Catholic radio station is a calling and an apostolate, not a business or part time venture. It is something that God accomplishes through you and not something that you will accomplish.
We have learned from Christ himself, as well as from the saints and Fathers of the Church that prayer, and conformity of our lives to Christ, is necessary for the success of all our works:
“Every believer in this world of ours must be a spark of light, a center of love, a vivifying leaven amidst his fellow men. And he will be this all the more perfectly, the more closely he lives in communion with God in the intimacy of his own soul.”
— Blessed Pope John XXIII, Peace on Earth, 146, 164
“The apostolate , of whatever kind it be, must be an overflow of the interior life.”
— Jose Maria Escriva, Friends of God, 239
“Dear friends, do not be afraid to take up this challenge: be holy men and women! Do not forget that the fruits of the apostolate depend on the depth of spiritual life, on the intensity of prayer, on continual formation and on sincere adherence to the Church’s directives. Today I repeat to you…that if you are what you should be – that is, if you live Christianity without compromise – you will set the world ablaze. “
–Pope John Paul II on the Jubilee of the Lay Apostolate
If, after prayerful discernment, you wish to continue contact the Catholic Radio Association for more assistance.
Formulating a Plan – Questions to Ask
In establishing a station, it is imperative that you develop an organized and practical plan. Many important questions will arise and each must be answered with prayer, thought and discussion.
Consider the following points as your apostolate progresses through its organizational stages:
· Do you have an existing organization? Example: Prayer group, Catholic bookstore, fraternal organization, etc.
· Speak to your friends and choose a core group of individuals who want to begin this project. Limit the size of the core group in order to maintain consensus and vision.
· Consider the type of entity you wish to establish: for profit or nonprofit. Operating Catholic stations in a nonprofit manner has repeatedly proven successful. If the entity is established as nonprofit it will be eligible to receive tax-deductible donations.
· Speak with your Diocesan Bishop. Share with him how your apostolate can assist him in his role as chief teacher of the Faith in his diocese. Request his input and blessing on your apostolate.
· Are you seeking to develop a commercial or non-commercial station? The most successful stations started in the last five years are non-commercial in nature. While some accept sponsors for individual programs, the majority of funding comes from listeners.
· Is the location that you seek to cover rural or urban? Is there a sufficient population base to support the type of station you are seeking to purchase/establish?
· Do you want an AM or an FM station? FM stations will cost more on average, but will have the same transmitter output power day and night, resulting in a clearer signal.
· Do you have a plan for raising the required funds? An effective plan in this area is crucial to the success of your endeavor. The CRA offers specific advice in this area and can direct you to a reputable development company, or even assist you in soliciting large gifts.
· Identify local Catholics with the means to make a significant contribution, as well as those who may be willing to assist in your fundraising efforts. There will be donors who are especially attracted to your initiative that would not otherwise make donation. Note well that other Catholic institutions may feel threatened by your proposed campaign. It is important to keep in mind that it is God who moves the heart of the giver to give. As the Holy Spirit converts the hearts of those who listen, there will be more financial resources available for all Catholic institutions.
The Catholic Radio Association offers its assistance and guidance in formulating, and carrying out, an effective and practical plan. We can assist you in establishing your organization by sharing with you tested methods that work and pitfalls to avoid. We can also refer you to an attorney experienced in assisting Catholic radio groups in getting organized.
Programming can make or break your apostolate. Consider whether you want to develop your own programming or use programming already available. It will take approximately three to four hours to develop each thirty-minute program. The time and cost involved in producing your own programming usually precludes this option until well established.
There are multiple sources available that offer orthodox, well-produced Catholic programming 24/7. These include Ave Maria Radio, EWTN, Radio Maria, and Relevant Radio. There are also myriad individual Catholic shows produced by such apostolates as Catholic Answers, St Joseph Radio and St Joseph Communications. Spanish programming is also available, including EWTN’s Radio Catolica Mundial and Radio Maria.
Selecting a Station
There are many options available in selecting a station. Consider the following points in determining which manner best suits your apostolate’s goals and requirements:
- Purchasing a Station – The most common option because there are more existing stations that can be purchased. It is less expensive in the long run than leasing and you usually receive the necessary equipment to begin broadcasting.
- Leasing a Station – You can consider leasing a station from the current owner. In leasing, you have the necessary equipment to begin broadcasting and pay a monthly fee for use of the broadcast station. You may find some relatively inexpensive opportunities depending upon the city or town. However, this is generally the most expensive way to broadcast.
- Buying Time On An Existing Station – In the short run this is the least expensive way to get a Catholic presence on the air. An effective method has been to lease an hour each day for broadcast of Catholic Answers Live or Open Line. Prices will generally range from $100 to $500 dollars per hour, depending upon the city or town and the time of day.
- Applying for a License – Far and away the least expensive way to start a station! This option, however, is not normally available. Check with us to see what might be upcoming.