February is traditionally "Catholic Press Month" and this year and, on this day we celebrate when the Light of Truth - Jesus Christ was presented in the Temple by His parents Mary and Joseph as Jewish law prescribed, we have reason to be encouraged for the Catholic media is making inroads. First of all, there is EWTN which is ever expanding. Thanks to the expert and inspired guidance of derring-do Mother Angelica and the generosity of millions in supporting Catholic television, her audience is gaining worldwide. The Eternal Word Television Network used the occasion last week with the Holy Father in Mexico to launch its Spanish station that should be well received and more than double viewership globally.
Complementing Mother's evangelization is a new venture that was launched late last year that many aren't even aware of - the Catholic Radio Network. Unlike Mother's non-profit endeavor, this is a commercial commitment. Headed by a group of committed Catholic professionals, CRN presently has seven AM stations in major markets across the United States including Los Angeles at KPLS 830 AM on the radio dial, Chicago at WAUR 930 AM, Philadelphia at WPWA 1590 AM, Minneapolis at WWTC 1280 AM, Denver at 1340 KKYD AM, Kansas City at KCNW 1380 AM and Milwaukee at WZER 540 AM. The last is quite a surprise considering Archbishop Rembert Weakland's excessive fear of orthodox media in his see. He is one of Mother Angelica's most outspoken critics...and Mother keeps an eye and ear on everything he does as well. The amazing thing is that this seven-station network ever got off the ground in the first place for they did not have the NCCB backing them. That is sad because it is just what the Bishops need. Yet there are those who are so bent on launching their own network that has been in the works for nearly a decade with nothing concrete as of yet, that they diss anything else. We all need to be unified in this work of evangelization. Spearheaded by Father Joseph Fessio, S.J., the moving force behind the orthodox Ignatius Press, the Catholic Radio Network has recruited capable backers as well as a Board of Directors that reads like a who's who of influential traditional Catholics: Ralph Martin of Renewal Ministries; Fran Maier who serves as the chancellor of the Archdiocese of Denver under the expert guidance of probably the most up-and-coming influential prelate in America - Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap; and Terry Barber who heads up St. Joseph Communication, to name just a few.
They were wise in their selection of an Executive Manager, selecting John Lynch who has over twenty-years experience in the business managing powerhouse radio stations to the top of the Arbitron ratings. He comes from cradle Catholic roots in the east. He cut his teeth in radio while still playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL in the sixties. That blood-line, by the way, produced a son John Jr. an outstanding safety on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Lynch Sr. gained his fame in Chicago and then in San Diego at KFMB Radio where he, along with Paul Palmer from Chicago, took a so-so station that was sixteenth in the market and, within a year and a half in the early seventies, had catapulted it to number one in the market where it has remained near the top for over twenty-five years. He did the same for XTRA Radio in Southern California. His trademark has always been entertaining, informing radio that is fit for the entire family. In fact, it was Lynch who persuaded Palmer - better known for decades in San Diego circles as "Colonel Kuffmubb" - to hire a young Catholic disc jockey out of Houston in the late seventies. His name was Joe Bauer, who this editor attended the College of St. Thomas with in the mid sixties. To this day Joe remains one of the strongest media forces on the air in San Diego and has always upheld the Catholic ideals, not afraid to speak out against abortion and other moral indecencies that plague this world. He has been one of the strongest promoters of the St. Vincent de Paul Center, a homeless shelter run by super-salespriest Father Joe Carroll in downtown San Diego who has raised millions for the poor. It is our fondest wish that both Joes will lend their voices and influence to CRN for Catholic Radio Network is based in La Jolla just a few miles from where Joe Bauer and John Lynch currently live. We do know that another influential voice has just signed on - former California Attorney General and unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate Dan Lungren. This is the same man whom we wrote about so glowingly last fall in this column for his no-nonsense, totally Catholic stance on all issues. Naturally he was defeated by the culture of death advocates who tried to turn these virtuous strengths into weakness in the eyes of the voters. Sadly, satan was able to blind them. But, California's loss is CRN's gain. He has experience as a talk-show host and should add a great deal.
CRN estimates that being in the above major markets they will be able to reach an audience of 50 million listeners. That's impressive. Their target-audience is not necessarily the committed Catholics, but the cafeteria Catholics, the fallen-away Catholics, modernist Catholics and non-Catholics who are searching, realizing their own faith doesn't offer the "entire package" so to speak. They're not going to pattern their programming on the Baptist Bible Belt syndrome where preachers blare and shout, but rather on the highly successful talk radio format, tackling all the problems that concern all citizens from economics to politics, from family to alternative lifestyles that have depleted our moral fiber, from foreign policy to care for the poor, downtrodden and sick...all from a solidly Catholic perspective. Those who want to help contribute to this ambitious endeavor, can send a tax-exempt donation to Ignatius Press, Catholic Media Productions, 2515 McAllister St., San Francisco, CA 94118. If Mother is willing to share the airwaves, shouldn't the bishops and all Catholics as well?
In print we have many fine publications but, too often, many Diocesan papers have been commandeered by editors and staff who propose a more liberal platform and add to the confusion of the faithful as to what the Holy Father is saying. There are several excellent publications out there, most notably The Catholic World Report published by Ignatius Press, the Oxford Review, the National Catholic Register (not to be confused with the ultra-liberal National Catholic Reporter out of Kansas City), Our Sunday Visitor, and Catholic Twin Circle. There is also The Wanderer which has some excellent articles but, too often, seems to be as far to the right as the National Catholic Reporter is to the left. Other than these weekly newspapers and the weekly and bi-weekly Diocesan house organs, there is little else. There are a plethora of magazines out there but other than the Knights of Columbus Columbia magazine, the Catholic Digest and St. Anthony's Messenger there are none with a solid circulation or a regular impact. There are more and more newsletters being published, many excellent ones and many on Medjugorje and Marian-oriented periodicals from high gloss to mimeographed. Unlike the secular world, however, there is none with the regularity that the DAILY CATHOLIC offers.
In our ninth year of publishing, the DAILY CATHOLIC is in its second year on the web and showing tremendous growth. Last January we were ecstatic with the statistics that showed we had 102,905 visits to our pages. The 1999 figures more than doubled that with 265,335 total visits. That's over a quarter of a million in just one month! For a very small ministry that's no small potatoes and we give all credit to God. This is not our work but His and we serve only as His instruments. It is proof that no matter how many times, through our inept humanness, we get in His way, He clears the path for others to be reached. More evidence that, if it is of God then it will grow and no amount of resistance can prevent His work - even the Y2K bug! Rather than sitting on our rusty laurels, we want to reinforce "Catholic Press Month" by rededicating our efforts of bringing readers the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth! So help us, God!