.- A new Catholic radio station launched in Phoenix on Thursday, becoming the 24th station of the Immaculate Heart Radio network in the western United States. The local bishop says it will be a “channel of evangelization.”
The new station, broadcast at KIHP 1310-AM, is the result of a five year effort to bring Catholic radio to the Phoenix market, the Phoenix Business Journal reports. The last three letters of its call sign stand for Immaculate Heart Phoenix.
Though the radio station used by KIHP was priced at four or five million dollars five years ago, it was purchased for only one million because the recession caused a lower asking price.
Doug Sherman, president and founder of the Sacramento-based Immaculate Heart Radio, said the purchase was funded by donors, the majority of whom were local.
“This is the first time a Catholic radio station has ever to come to Phoenix,” Sherman told the Phoenix Journal. “We know there’s a market here. Over 25 percent of the population is identified as Catholics.”
Bishop of Phoenix Thomas Olmsted told the Catholic Sun that the station would be a “channel of evangelization” for those with no faith or those who have fallen away from religious practice.
“Wherever stations have opened across our country, stories of conversion have soon followed,” he added.
Such stories include babies saved from abortion, Catholics growing deeper in their faith, strengthened families and instances of confirmed atheists bringing their family into the Church.
The station will also help reach the home-bound, those in nursing homes or with limited ability to be active in a parish. Commuters too will benefit, the bishop added.
Programming will include a musical rosary aired at 7:30 a.m. local time and at two other times during the day. The station will rebroadcast EWTN shows such as The World Over and also seven hours of live call-in talk shows.
Jim Dwyer, public information officer for the Diocese of Phoenix, said KIHP will help the diocese broaden its voice in the Phoenix Valley. He said the diocese would also like to work with Immaculate Heart to have some local programming on the station.
“We would like to have a Bishop’s Hour for sure,” Dwyer explained. “At least once a month from the Bishop.”
Sherman explained that local businesses can advertise their products and services by sponsoring programs on the station. This would not be “hard-sell advertising,” but more like PBS television, he told the Phoenix Business Journal.
Immaculate Heart employs 22 people to oversee 23 radio stations in California, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. Sherman said he is not yet sure how many will be employed at the Phoenix station.
Immaculate Heart Radio’s first station launched in January 1997 and was only the seventh Catholic station in the country. By contrast, there were about 1,500 Protestant stations at the time.
“For whatever reason, Catholics were asleep at the wheel for the last 30 years, while other people were doing very good things with radio,” Sherman said.
There are now about 200 Catholic radio stations in the U.S.
Immaculate Heart Radio and the diocese launched the station at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, followed by a blessing from Bishop Thomas Olmsted and a celebration at Mount Claret Retreat Center.
The radio network’s website is at http://www.ihradio.org