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WDTF-LP, CATHOLIC RADIO
The second Vatican Council urged Catholics to utilize modern broadcast technologies to spread the Gospel, stating that “All members of the Church should make a concerted effort to ensure that the means of communication are put at the service of the multiple forms of apostolate without delay and as energetically as possible” and “Catholic stations should be established where it is opportune.” Yet in the many years following the Council this exhortation went largely unheeded. Today that is changing.
Just a few years ago there were over 1,800 religious radio stations across the United States, but only three of these were Catholic. Now there are many Catholic stations which regularly air Catholic programming and, thanks to low power FM licenses, hundreds more may soon be going on the air. These stations have helped strengthen the faith of many Catholics and have also led many non-Catholics into the Church.
An example of one of these groups working to be a part of this ‘Catholic radio movement’ is Defenders of The Faith, Inc (DTF). DTF was formed by a small group of lay Catholics five years ago committed to using the media and modern means of communication to spread the teachings of Jesus Christ. Today their newsletter has hundreds of readers in West Virginia and many other states. Their website is read by Catholics throughout the United States and in many foreign countries. Their goal to bring Catholic Radio to the local area was finally achieved in January 2003.
After receiving assistance from Starboard Broadcasting they received a permit from the FCC to construct a low power FM broadcasting station in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia back in 2001. Starboard is a non-profit Catholic postulate organized and run by lay men and women. They own and operate community Catholic radio stations throughout Wisconsin and Minnesota. In addition to assisting DTF, they have helped many other Catholic organizations in obtaining a Low Power FM license. Starboard is not an owner or operator of these stations, nor do they have control of the station’s mission or agenda. They really are evangelists providing assistance to small groups like DTF helping them to spread the gospel.
They then began the job of raising funds for the equipment. They needed approximately $20,000 just for the hardware. The next item on the agenda was planning the location and installation. There were several choices to be made based upon optimum broadcast area, costs, and time. They only had 18 months to get their station up and running before the FCC revoked the building permit. They, did as many other low power FM stations were doing, rented space in the local radio station. They were able to use an old satellite antenna that required rebuilding for receiving input signals from Starboard, and they used the station’s existing 80 foot tower to mount their transmitting antenna.
DTF obtained volunteers for doing the engineering, the equipment assembly, and the installation. They were up and running two months ahead of schedule thanks to these volunteers and a lot of prayers.
Defenders of The Faith, Inc, operating as WDTF-LP and broadcasting at 107.9 FM, provides 24 hour programming from Starboard Broadcasting as well as providing local public service announcements to their area. Their operating expense runs about $700 per month provided by ‘community supporters’ who are recognized on the air several times per day. Their broadcast area includes Berkeley Springs, West Virginia as well as Hancock, Maryland and even parts of Pennsylvania and Virginia. Reaction to the station has been very positive from both the lay people and the clergy.
Fourth Annual Dinner/Meeting
Our fourth annual Dinner/Meeting was held at Maria’s Garden and Inn in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia and began at 7 PM. All members of the Defenders of the Faith, Inc. and supporters of the WDTF-LP radio station are encouraged to attend these meetings.
The meeting began with an invocation by Father Edward Brienz. Father Brienz is from the diocese of Youngstown, Ohio and has been a long term supporter of our radio station efforts here in Berkeley Springs and Hancock. Several years ago he was assigned to take charge of the catholic charities effort in New Orleans after Katrina. He worked to help rebuild that area and also managed a national campaign to recruit construction volunteers from all parishes across the country. He has interesting stories to tell of his experience. We were blessed to have him in our midst. He has been an inspiration to all of us in our work for the Lord.
A buffet dinner, provided by one of our sponsors Peg Perry, was enjoyed by all.
Dinner was followed by some great music by Valerie Von Fange. Valerie has been performing as a soloist and in musical groups for over 25 years. Her unique style of keyboarding allows her to play tunes from the ‘20s to present, capturing styles such as country, oldies and inspirational. Valerie had two hits in the top ten of Catholic Songs: A Hymn to Him for Easter/Alleluia and Psalm 123 for Adoration. Both were in the National Catholic Register and both are from the Steadfast Love CD. She entertained everyone with her great selection of music and especially her sing-along songs.
Father Edward Brienz closed the dinner with more encouraging and inspirational words citing the importance of Catholic Radio.
The business meeting emphasized “where we are now and where we going”. Carol Ambrose gave a brief status report about our radio station in Berkeley Springs and our relationship with the Diocese, Relevant Radio, Catholic Radio Association and Defenders of the Faith, Inc. Marion Thomas gave a brief summary of the current status of our sister station in Hancock and other activities. Jim Fritz provided a summary of the other area of interest pertaining to Defenders of the Faith, Inc. emphasizing that membership is important!! The meeting ended with a vote on new officers. The following are excerpts of the talks.
Karen and Kids
As a member of the Wheeling/West Virginia Diocese we did obtain permission of our bishop when we became operational four years ago.
Our programming consists almost entirely of Relevant Radio’s programming with the exceptions previously mentioned.
We are a member of The Catholic Radio Association (CRA), based in Birmingham, Alabama - Mother Angelica’s home. I had the rare opportunity of shaking her hand and thanking her for her commitment to her original goal of broadcasting Catholic programming around the world. It’s been more than 25 years ago that her dream came true, and blossomed.
Some members of CRA don’t yet have a station up and running; therefore, we are committed to supporting some of them. In Morgantown and Front Royal, we’ve offered prayer, ideas, expertise, and encouragement.
Our parent organization, Defenders of the Faith, is based right here in Berkeley Springs; many of you are members. Without them, we would not exist. It was they who obtained our broadcast license. Jim Fritz will tell us more about the Defenders, this evening. Marion Thomas, our President, will now give us the status of or sister station, Splendor of Truth Radio in Hancock, Maryland
Marion Thomas – President
After six months of rushed and frantic attempts to make our deadline to get Splendor of Truth Radio up and running in Hancock, Maryland, we officially went on the air on Divine Mercy Sunday in April 2007. Our joy was short lived because we began to hear reports that some neighbors were getting static and radio interference at home. We began the process of investigating and evaluating this problem. We talked to people, listened to their radios and then bought more sophisticated radios to the problem areas to see if they worked better. There were about 12 homes involved, but we discovered that there was a real problem. It should not have happened this way-but it did. The local newspaper and several irate citizens followed our dilemma with gusto. We attended Town Council meetings and faced some very vocal and unhappy citizens who, interestingly enough, actually had not been individually affected by the problem. We asked for, and obtained, permission from the FCC to cease broadcasting until we solved the problem. The FCC had already received a complaint from one angry gentleman and thus they were already aware of our problems and granted our request.
It was wonderful to discover that God had a special plan and a much better site in store for us. We were able to lease this property and notified the FCC requesting a location change. However, because our site was less than 2000 feet from our very small, local private airport, the Federal Aviation Administration informed us that we needed to ask for an aeronautical study to determine if our 40 foot tower would cause a problem to the four pilots in the area. It was a little miracle that this study was accomplished in about a month. We were told we needed to light our tower and paint it-an achievable solution. As of today we are waiting until May 15 to hear if there are any objections to our new site. The FCC will then make their decision…and then it will be "Onward Christian Soldiers"! Never give up!
Jim Fritz – Executive Director
In order to keep my talk short I have provided a handout of the Executive Report that is available to everyone each month.
Carol has covered the radio station quite well. We are operating in the black which is good. We are providing four hours of non-Relevant Radio programming. We can always use more volunteer help.
Our newsletter, The Defender, has an audience of 550 and growing. It has also been in publication for over 10 years and is read in more than 35 states. We have shifted from a short monthly publication to an expanded quarterly version. Our Defender is at times hard hitting, but it is accurate. Each issue is reviewed by at least two priests. The three priests on our board are Fathers Pavone, McAfee, and Parker. These are all nationally known orthodox priests.
Our website www.thedefender.org is basically an online version of our newsletter. We encourage you to visit us on-line and review all of the available information. The number of readers is significant. We have had responses from all over the US and from several foreign countries. We have made significant technical improvements in our website during the past year. The main advantage of the website is that it is included in the major Internet search engines. Our newsletter and website have received a ‘Fidelity Green Light Award’ from CatholicCulture.org for excellence in Catholic Fidelity.
We are in good standing with the Catholic Media Coalition and this is an asset as far as information coming to us and information being disseminated by us.
What’s next? We have made great gains in the past few years and with your help we will make even more gains in the near future. This can be:
So what can you do?
The meeting continued with a voice vote on the nominations of for the positions of Vice President and Treasurer. Curtis Perry was nominated for Vice President and Laura Haber was nominated for Treasurer. Both were elected by voice vote.
Meeting was adjourned at 10 PM
WDTF Two Year Celebration
WDTF Three Year Celebration