Faith-based Catholic radio’s popularity surges in bad economy
The sluggish U.S. economy hasn’t been kind to the radio industry since the last presidential election. The Pew Research Center reports that revenues from traditional spot advertising shrank by 1 percentage point in 2011, to $14.1 billion, following 6 percent growth in 2010.
The devastating financial impact crater has reverberated with industry-wide consolidations and niche stations forced into general – read predictable – audience formats. You can spot a dying station by its radio death rattle: a format change to adult contemporary hits.
But traditional radio’s rules do not apply to everyone.
In Antioch, Illinois, a brand new signal tower has entered its design and construction phase. Once the radio tower is built next year, it has the capacity to reach a potential audience of 500,000 people across Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin.
The new station? WSFI-FM Catholic radio.
That’s right: Catholic radio.
While other stations are being forced to regroup, WSFI organizers say Catholic radio is “estimated to be growing at about a million listeners a month because of the powerful impact it is making on listeners’ lives.”
Economic downturns are not only hard on the pocketbook; they are hard on the soul. That’s where Catholic radio is making a difference, supporters say.
That spiritual potential has already enabled WSFI to assemble a powerhouse team determined to fill the void in Catholic radio programming in Midwestern markets.
Pat McCaskey, co-owner of the Chicago Bears and Chairman of Sports Faith International, recently hosted a fundraiser at the Key Lime Cove Resort to raise funds for the construction of the new signal tower.
His mother, Virginia McCaskey, a devout Catholic and daughter of Chicago Bears founder, George Halas, was the guest of honor.
Those in attendance at the event said they were “thrilled” by the possibilities: The Illinois tower could make WSFI-FM the largest Catholic radio station in the country.
With an FM signal, the station would broadcast uninterrupted 24 hours a day with a mix of local-driven inspirational sports stories and Catholic radio programming says WSFI Program Director Angela Tomlinson.
It’s an ambitious and expensive plan. [More]
The Washington Times