At a time when Catholic Masses have been closed to the public and efforts to stem the coronavirus epidemic dominate the news, EWTN Radio is temporarily rebranding its EWTN Radio Classics programming as EWTN Radio Essentials to provide more broadcasts of the Mass, devotionals, and spiritual reflections.

"Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures," Jack Williams, general manager of the EWTN Global Catholic Radio Network, told CNA March 26.

Under the program changes, Mass will be broadcast eight times a day, every two hours from 8 a.m. through midnight Eastern Time.

EWTN Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael P. Warsaw said March 25 that the change aims "to assist listeners struggling to cope with the closing of so many churches due to the coronavirus pandemic."

This will make EWTN Radio Essentials "a one-stop source for Mass and devotions," Warsaw said. "As people of faith know, prayer is what will get us all through this difficult time," he added.

Williams said that in the wake of church closures, "the outcry for the Mass from the faithful was loud and immediate."

"In times of trouble our greatest recourse is always to Our Lord and the greatest prayer of the Church is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass," he said.

Williams said the programming will be "a resource heavily grounded in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Rosaries, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, Stations of the Cross and the wisdom of spiritual icons like Archbishop Fulton Sheen, Fr. Benedict Groeschel, Fr. Andrew Apostoli, Fr. George Rutler and, of course, Mother Angelica."

Both EWTN Global Catholic Radio and EWTN Radio Essentials are available through the EWTN phone app in the "Live Streams" section. The channels can also be found on the website, in the Radio section's Listen Live page, under the "United States" tab.

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The programming change came March 25.

Williams said the change replaces some more catechetical offerings to content aiding prayer and devotion.

"The Mass and devotionals were always front and center on EWTN Radio Classics but not nearly in the concentration they are on EWTN Radio Essentials," he said.

Williams said radio has its own unique qualities for Catholic broadcasting.

"Radio in general is an intimate medium," he said. "It lends itself to the most intimate of all relationships, that of the Creator of the Universe and creatures he loves above all. EWTN Radio is geared toward establishing, building, nurturing and ultimately sharing that relationship."

Williams said EWTN programming has a spiritual role in a crisis like the coronavirus pandemic.

"Crisis can weaken the soul. If we're not there, especially in time of crisis, the door is wide open for the evil one to gain a foothold in the lives of those enduring the crisis," he said.

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He also emphasized the benefits EWTN Radio listeners find.

"We hear from people at every stage of their pilgrimage here on earth, from the unchurched to the non-Catholic to the fallen away Catholic," Williams said. "Our programming has the potential to speak a word of encouragement to anyone at any stage."

"We evangelize the non-believer and fallen away Catholic, catechize and encourage the Catholic faithful and hopefully spur them on to lives of heroic virtue according to their individual state in life," he added.

For Williams, the programming will help show "that regardless of how secular the culture becomes or how much the human family turns their back on God, the truth about Him and the necessity for recourse to Him is written within the human heart."

"Sadly, it all too often takes great tragedy before we'll acknowledge that truth," he told CNA.

The format change will remain in place until the coronavirus crisis diminishes.

Besides the EWTN Mobile App and EWTN website, EWTN radio services are available on SiriusXM Satellite Radio Channel 130, iHeart Radio, and 380 AM and FM radio station affiliates. EWTN Radio is available on TuneIn Radio Apps, Roku, Amazon Fire, YouTube and Facebook as well as streaming platforms like Apple TV, Amazon Echo and Google Play.

EWTN Global Catholic Network is now in its 38th year. Its 11 global TV channels are broadcast in multiple languages to over 300 million households in more than 145 countries and territories.

Its news services include Catholic News Agency and the National Catholic Register. Its book division is EWTN Publishing.