For years, the only way John Prohaska could listen to Catholic radio was by satellite.
That changed in May, when Saint Paul Catholic Radio quietly launched the area’s only station dedicated to Catholic radio. Hundreds of thousands of households now can receive WKER-FM (91.1), an EWTN Catholic Radio affiliate based in McCormick, S.C.
“It’s all about bringing the Gospel to the people in a modern way,” said Prohaska, the founder and president of Saint Paul Catholic Radio.
Starting the station took years of work, a dedicated committee and about $100,000 in donations from local families and churches, he said.
Work on the station began in 2008. That’s when Saint Paul Catholic Radio joined with Mediatrix SC Inc. and applied for a noncommercial educational FM license in McCormick.
After the team received the license, “we had three years from that point to make the station happen,” Prohaska said.
Volunteers held fundraisers, Catholic business breakfasts, family movie nights and a dance. In all, early efforts raised about $30,000, less than a third of the goal.
“It wasn’t really progressing,” said Prohaska, a pharmaceutical hospital sales representative and a commander in the Navy Reserve. “What we needed was for churches to allow us to come in and do presentations.”
That’s what they did.
Last August, a presentation at the Church of the Most Holy Trinity in Augusta raised $32,000. Two months later, a presentation at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in McCormick raised $10,000.
That same month, members of St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church in Grovetown gave $68,000.
“We worked real hard, prayed hard and stayed out of the way,” said David Vernon, Saint Paul Catholic Radio’s vice president. “We got to watch miracles happen.”
In December, the group had raised enough money to order antennas and cables that would be installed at a 250-foot-tall radio tower near Lincolnton in February.
The station aired its first program in March and launched full time in May with 24 hours of programming a day, seven days a week, from EWTN Catholic Radio, Ave Maria Radio, St. Joseph’s Communications and Catholic Answers Live.
“I’m so glad we have it and I’ve been able to be a part,” said Bernie Hulshof, the treasurer. “Whenever I’d hear about the subject of evangelization, I felt guilty I wasn’t doing enough. I’m not the sort to go out on a street corner.
“This allows me to do my part. It gives all of us a chance to play our part.”
In the future, up to 20 percent of the programming could be local, Prohaska said. He envisions broadcasts of Mass from local parishes and athletic events from Aquinas High School shared over the airwaves. The station features occasional local spots and advertisements for church events.
“We want to make this an integrated station working with the local parishes,” he said.
The station will cost an additional $3,000 to $4,000 per month to run.
“You feel like God’s calling you to do something, and you say yes, and you learn as you go. That’s what’s happened here,” Prohaska said. “God really did answer our prayers. We surrounded ourselves with good people, and good things happened.”