PURPOSE AND MISSION
Catholic Community Radio exists to broadcast the Gospel of Jesus Christ to Southeastern Louisiana and the Gulf Coast.
Through the use of modern communications technology, we provide compelling programming showcasing the rich Catholic heritage that weaves through Louisiana history. We hope you'll tune in and discover how God is working in the midst of your everyday life.
In the Beginning...
It actually all started with a non-Catholic, “evangelical” radio station.
In 2006, Johnny Hebert, a mild-mannered, everyday Catholic-In-The-Pew penned a letter to a local Christian station known for its anti-Catholic sentiments after a close friend lamented that the station was tearing her family apart. The letter attempted to respond to some of the misconceptions shared most mornings on their drive-time show.
The letter didn’t just go into a pile on a desk. It found its way onto the air. On his way to work several mornings after Johnny’s note was sent, David Dawson pulled over to the shoulder of the road in the middle of busy Baton Rouge commuter traffic. He was astounded at what he heard. He grabbed his cell phone. “Johnny! Drop what you’re doing. They’re reading the letter.”
Wrong Idea, Big Idea
Over the course of that morning show, Johnny’s letter was the subject of the guffaws and so-called biblical debunking of Catholic theology. It was, of course, terribly skewed and lacked the nuance that Sacred Scripture and two-thousand years of Sacred Tradition working in tandem could provide. Some of the statements lamented that “those poor Catholics” just didn’t know what Jesus really meant and how sad it was that Catholics were probably going to Hell because they didn’t know what God really requires of a person.
This both saddened and irritated Dave and Johnny. They wondered aloud, “Why isn’t there a Catholic radio station around to combat this flow of misinformation?!” That question sparked a journey that would begin to change hearts and minds – beginning with these two “everyday” Catholics.
Ushering In An Apostolate
Johnny and David, parishioners at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Baton Rouge, didn’t know a thing about running a radio station. However, Johnny remembered that one of the ushers, Mike Norwood, happened to work at a radio station in the sales and marketing department. Dave casually asked Mike, “So, what does it take to start a radio station?”
The initial response was silence. Then Mike said, “This is what I’ve been praying for— you have no idea!” Mike explained that flipping the switch on a radio station wasn’t as simple as filling out paperwork, but had rather a lot to do with frequency availability, equipment purchasing, licensing, and a whole cluster of other considerations that would overwhelm even the most aspiring broadcaster.
He suggested that the best idea would be to either buy time on an existing station, or look for one ready to sell. After many meetings at a local coffee shop, Dave, Johnny, and Mike decided to do both.
It's All Who You Know
David, Johnny, and Mike began checking around and found that a number of Catholics in the area were also being stirred by the Holy Spirit to start a Catholic Radio station, and so they met with a small core group of lay Catholics, which led them next to seek counsel with Father Jeffrey Bayhi, Father Chris Decker, and others in the diocese, most notably receiving a blessing of the apostolate from Bishop Robert Muench. With this support, David, Johnny and Mike created Catholic Community Radio, Inc. and began looking for radio stations who would sell time to them for Catholic programming.
Meanwhile, Mike used his contacts to begin hunting for a radio station that might be heading out of business in a fluctuating market. David began broadcasting “Around the Parish,” a combination of live and pre-recorded segments showcasing the people and parishes around the Diocese of Baton Rouge, on the stalwart local talk-radio station KKAY 1590am in Donaldsonville, LA. That led to requests for “more” and so was added a weekly show by Johnny and his brothers “Our Father’s House” as well as Catholic Answers Live.
While these didn’t broadcast too far into the city, it turned out to be an invitation from an important investor who was beginning to train Dave how to operate a radio station. That investor was The Blessed Mother.
Within months of Catholic programming airing on KKAY, David found himself thrust into the role of General Manager of a radio station that was quickly falling apart from neglect and outdated equipment. He decided to quit a good paying job to take a bold step of faith into radio broadcasting.
In addition to producing the show, booking the guests, and setting up live interviews, he also began to learn the finer points of satellite operations, transmitter links, and audio board operations. Juggling finances, fees, and filings with the Federal Communications Commission were also part of Our Lady’s radio bootcamp, and the three man team was learning fast that this apostolate wasn’t exactly a man-made operation.
Following a silent retreat at The Jesuit-run Manresa House of Retreats in rural St. James Civil Parish, Mike followed Dave’s example; he retired from his job, and took the leap of faith with Dave in the new venture.
These Aren't The Towers You're Looking For
Following Hurricane Gustav in 2008, a number of radio stations in the Baton Rouge area were either severely damaged or knocked off-air until significant repairs could be made. This caused a few owners to sell and regroup.
Using Mike’s connections, Dave and the gang began to look out for stations that might be willing to sell for a reasonable price. The fledgling little three-man organization didn’t really have any money to speak of, but they still negotiated as if there were millions in the bank.
David used mapping software to find a set of towers that supposedly belonged to the station that was most likely to sell. He drove out to the site, and at the urging of Fr. Chris Decker, a podcaster and priest-broadcaster, buried a Miraculous Medal at the site as a way of asking Mary’s intercession that the transaction occur successfully.
The station ended up having a number of issues that were serious obstacles, but another entity showed promise just as the other proverbial door was closing. The coordinates were provided to David, who drove out to the location of the towers of the new prospective station.
He found himself beneath the same towers where the Miraculous Medal had been buried! It seems that David had misread the first set of coordinates and that Mary’s prayers for those particular towers had indeed come through, they just belonged to the company that would sell!
Transmissions (And The Real Adventures) Begin
On December 18, 2009, Advent and Christmas music began broadcasting from the transmitters of WPYR-AM 1380. There was no studio yet, so the first sounds of a stable Catholic Radio presence in the Capital City were located on an mp3 player set to “repeat all.” The voices of Jeff Blackwell, a local voice and production artist, was one of the first listeners would hear inviting them to tune in, listen, and pray for the coming child Jesus. Jeff would become our Director of Operations.
During this crucial time, volunteers of all types seemed to come out of nowhere at exactly the right time with right talents and gifts to help turn Our Lady’s urgings into a reality. These volunteers continue to be the life of the station and the apostolate.
Catholic Community Radio found studio space in Baton Rouge and most recently has acquired a station and studio space in New Orleans bringing Catholic programming to the Crescent City, Southeastern Louisiana and along the Gulf Coast. As of 2013, with the help of development director Louis Prejean, plans are in the works to encourage listeners to support the efforts of Catholic Community Radio to expand audio (and even video) programming, showcasing the beautifully rich Catholic culture of the deep south.
In 2012, Mike Norwood went home to the Lord after a swift yet brutal battle with cancer. But his intercession is undoubtedly joined to that of Mary, who wishes that all people would know Jesus, the Fruit of her womb and the joy of each heart created by a loving God. It is the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary that pulse with the desire that all would come to experience the fullness of knowledge and love of The Father. It’s the sound of those heartbeats that Catholic Community Radio hopes to broadcast into a hungry and waiting world.