By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer
BALA CYNWYD – Cardinal Justin Rigali is going radio.
Beginning Monday, Oct. 13, the Cardinal will host a live, monthly radio program, the Cardinal Justin Rigali Show, on the Big Talker 1210 AM WPHT Philadelphia.
The hour-long program, which includes a question-and-answer session with the Cardinal, runs from 7 to 8 p.m. from the studio at 2 Bala Plaza in Bala Cynwyd. Subsequent dates are to be announced.
The program will be moderated by talk show host Dom Giordano, a Catholic who is an alumnus of King of Peace School, Bishop Neumann High School and La Salle College in Philadelphia.
“I am grateful to have this opportunity and very much look forward to collaborating on a regular basis with Dom Giordano and the staff at WPHT,” Cardinal Rigali said.
“The Church has always been interested in social communications,” the Cardinal continued. “The media offer a way to reach many people at one time who might not ordinarily hear the Gospel message. We must constantly look for new ways to reach out to the faithful and to the wider community.
“As our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, said in his message for the 40th anniversary of World Day of Communications (2006), ‘Participation in the mass media arises from their nature as a good destined for all people.'”
Cardinal Rigali is no stranger to WPHT, having been a guest on Giordano’s program from time to time. In fact, the station approached the Cardinal about hosting his own show.
“We just know that the Cardinal is a critical voice in Philadelphia,” Giordano said. “The Cardinal is a critical moral force – and this moral force is part of everything in Philadelphia at the highest levels.
“There’s a whole lot to talk about, a whole lot of issues that come up that are national, even international and local.”
Giordano said he and the station are “thrilled” to have the Cardinal on the show and consider the program a partnership.
In addition to the Cardinal’s role as a prelate locally, Giordano acknowledged that the Cardinal is in demand beyond the borders of the Archdiocese. “When you have someone who is this imminently involved in national and international levels, that makes it even more of a treat for our listeners to get his insight, given the things that he’s doing on a daily basis.”
Giordano anticipates the show will address a variety of Church-related matters, such as current events or upcoming events the Cardinal wants to promote.
Some topics may have a moral component that intersect with public policy. “I do see, for example, a number of bishops speaking out during this election cycle around the life issue and how that comes into play,” Giordano said. “Having the Cardinal there to talk about it … really adds a degree of certitude to what the message is and what some of the values are.”
The question-and-answer session will be beneficial for the callers and the Cardinal, Giordano believes.
Talk radio is a growing market, according to Giordano. “At this talk station, the types of guests that I bring on during the course of a week are of a national stature…. It’s a platform for the biggest guests with the biggest points of view, and listeners get a chance often that [they] don’t get anywhere else to either call and ask a question or … to rebut what they’ve said, to be heard. We like to say, you get to turn your telephone into a 50,000-watt microphone…. That’s why the interactive part of it is so critical.”
Any disagreements will be addressed diplomatically, Giordano insists. “We’ll let people make their point and allow the Cardinal to make his point.”
And that includes Giordano himself. “I may not always be fully or completely in agreement,” but “I can’t imagine anything that I would be completely on the other side of. There might be nuances.
“This might be a family type of thing, where inside the family you have different points of view, but you’re still family at the end of the day. That’s the spirit that this will be conducted in.”
Giordano and his wife Rosemary, born Pagano, attend Mass at Holy Martyrs Parish in Oreland. They have two grown sons. A native of South Philadelphia, Giordano graduated from King of Peace School in 1963 and from Bishop Neumann High School in 1967. Giordano received a bachelor’s degree in English from La Salle College and holds a master’s degree in education.
He praised the Cardinal’s previous participation on his show. “He was very accessible and very forthright in what he thought on any number of issues,” Giordano said.
Giordano has a shout out to listeners. “Tune in and call in,” he said. “If you like this hour, maybe you’ll like the other things we talk about because we do talk about a number of issues that affect Catholics and affect citizens.
If you have a question for Cardinal Rigali’s radio show, contact Dom Giordano at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about WPHT, visit the web site www.thebigtalker1210.com.