By Arlene Edmonds
Special to The CS&T
Holy Spirit Radio is now 10 years old. The region’s only all-Catholic broadcasting station is ready to embark on another decade of quality local programming integrated with a mix of national shows, including those provided by Eternal World Television Network (EWTN).
Consequently, avid listeners to the Doylestown-based WISP, 1570 AM, and the newer audience that began tuning into 1420 AM from Chester County last fall, will get even more spiritually edifying programs in the future.
Perhaps no one is more proud of the station’s 10th anniversary than program director Patrick McCabe. He is quick to point out that about 20 percent of the station’s programming hails from the Delaware Valley region. This includes local parish news and archdiocesan events.
“We produce four programs each week and also air many local announcements,” said McCabe. WISP is often referred to as a “model Catholic radio station” by EWTN program director Thom Price, according to McCabe. So it is very fitting that the station’s motto is, “Inspired by the Holy Spirit … Communicating Hope.”
The EWTN programming aired regularly includes daily Mass, national call-in radio shows and special coverage of papal events. Among the recent local programs on WISP was coverage of the priestly ordination Mass, St. Charles Borromeo Seminary’s Christmas Concert and, more recently, the archdiocesan men’s spirituality conference.
“That was a great announcement because it featured Bishop Robert Maginnis making a personal invitation to men,” said McCabe. “We’re always thrilled to work with the Archdiocese and have had the blessing of interviewing Cardinal Justin Rigali on many occasions over the past few years.”
It was in 1999 that Dale and Jane Meier purchased the former WBUX in Doylestown. On the Feast of St. Joseph, which falls annually on March 19, the new radio station was launched. At that time, WISP was among less than 20 EWTN Radio affiliates. It is currently among the national network’s 125 affiliate stations.
The Meiers still play an active role in the station and take no personal salary. Their paid staff positions are a full-time program director and a part-time engineer. They rely on volunteers to host local programs, man the telephones and coordinate the efforts for their yearly Radiothon fundraiser. In addition, there is a network of radio representatives at many parishes who pool their resources to make financial contributions to ensure that the radio station keeps thriving.
“We heard Mother Angelica’s call for radio stations to broadcast EWTN Radio,” recalled Dale Meier. “We didn’t have any experience in radio, but we were inspired by Mother’s witness and decided to leave it in the Holy Spirit’s hands. There used to be a lot of prerecorded shows or simply the audio portion of TV programs. Today most of our grid is filled with live call-in and radio-specific programs.”
Holy Spirit Radio estimates that there are “tens of thousands of listeners every month,” according to McCabe. Many were among those who attended the station’s 10th anniversary gala March 19. The celebration included a Mass and luncheon for long- time volunteers at St. Dominic Church in Northeast Philadelphia.
The main celebrant was Father John Gabin, pastor of St. Dominic Parish and the station’s spiritual adviser. Father Gabin reflected on the Gospel reading of Joseph and Mary searching for Jesus and later finding him in the synagogue. “What a relief and joy it was for them to find Jesus and what a relief it is for us find Jesus on Holy Spirit Radio,” Father Gabin said.
For more information, visit www.HolySpiritRadio.org.
Arlene Edmonds is a freelance writer and St. Raymond of Penafort parishioner. She may be reached at ArleneEdmonds@aol.com.