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I was pleased to spend time on the air Tuesday participating in the drive, encouraging donations and talking about my book with old friend, Deacon Tom Loewe (who had played a vital part in producing the comedy shows I created for Ave Maria Radio a few years back).
Religious broadcasting has taken a few rough hits over the years, mainly because of abuses perpetrated by some less-than-ethical televangelists. There have been scandals. And Lord knows, there’s been far too much high living on the backs of honest Christians who sacrificed to spread the Word of God.
It’s been disillusioning to find that when some on-air personalities were shouting “Praise the Lord,” what they really meant was “Let the good times roll!”
Catholic Radio is a very different story. And that story is largely untold, though it was hinted at in news coverage of the death of Mother Angelica last week.
Born Rita Antoinette Rizzo in 1923, Mary Angelica was a sister of the Franciscan order, Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration. This humble (if somewhat sassy) nun was a true visionary in the field of mass communications. She perceived a tremendous opportunity for ministry in the spread of cable television. In 1981 she started producing a religious TV series in a Birmingham, Alabama garage, then made audio from the shows available to radio stations offering some Catholic-oriented content (there weren’t very many at the time).
Mother’s program would spin off other shows and eventually grow into the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN). At the same time, a handful of Catholic entrepreneurs, including Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino’s Pizza, were launching radio stations to rebroadcast her audio offerings. Monaghan’s Michigan station, WDEO, based in Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti, was the first to offer Catholic programming fulltime.
Today there are some 300 Catholic stations around the country. And the Internet has extended their reach exponentially. While I was doing my shift during the membership drive, we received call-in pledges from as far away as California.
Along with fulfilling their basic mission of educating listeners about the Faith, these broadcast outlets serve an important function — one which even non-Catholics appreciate. They provide an alternative voice. Catholic Radio offers news, information and analysis from a perspective that’s strikingly different from that of the secular media. It’s one that’s based not on popular and transitory “ideals,” but on timeless principles that are unaltered by ideological trends and fashionable opinions.
Consequently, these stations are seeing noteworthy growth in listeners who are not Catholic, not necessarily Christian, and not even explicitly religious.
Ave Maria Radio is a key player in this important communications movement, which is, incidentally, the fastest-growing segment of radio today. Through its affiliation with EWTN, AMR has become the foremost provider of original Catholic-content radio programming to stations all over the country. Yet, it’s entirely non-profit, operating on listener gifts and philanthropic support.
Check out Ave Maria Radio by listening online at: AveMariaRadio.net. Then call in to make your pledge at: 1-877-288-1077. And ask about giving levels that can qualify you to receive a “thank-you” copy of my new novel, MY BROTHER’S KEEPER.
In that way, you can help spread the word about a remarkable information source, Ave Maria Radio.
Further information about MY BROTHER’S KEEPER can be found here…