What Does the Church Say About Radio?
“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.
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.
“The apostolate , of whatever kind it be, must be an overflow of the interior life.”
— Jose Maria Escriva, Friends of God, 239
If, after prayerful discernment, you wish to continue contact the Catholic Radio Association for more assistance.
Formulating a Plan – Questions to Ask
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? There is no “best,” option here and much will depend on your particular market and what is available. We will be happy to discuss this in more depth with you.
· 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?
· AM or 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. There may also be practical reasons for purchasing an AM station. We’ll be happy to discuss these considerations with you in detail.
· 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. 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.