New Catholic radio station going on air in Lake County

By Karen Mahoney
A new Catholic radio station is coming to northern Lake County and will find its home at the archdiocese’s newest parish St. Raphael the Archangel in Antioch.
WSFI 88.5 FM broke ground for its radio tower on April 8 and hopes to reach a million listeners in the areas surrounding the Diocese of Rockford, and the archdioceses of Chicago and Milwaukee.
The studio will broadcast on the property at the current location of St. Raphael the Archangel Parish on Route 173, east of highway 45 in Antioch.
The nonprofit BVM Helping Hands owns the station and also operates Sports Faith International, an organization that recognizes sports figures who lead exemplary lives.
According to station manager Angela Tomlinson, BVM was founded to assist people in accessing community services through connections with technology and media. The idea to expand the ministry through radio emerged after the FCC made broadcast licenses available to nonprofit organizations. Tomlinson is also part of the Sports Faith team.
“We want a presence at Catholic schools and to broadcast high school events, offering programming by the newly formed Young Catholic Advocates.” she said. “And because of the affiliation of Sports Faith International, we plan to follow the lead of Blessed John Paul II to utilize sports leaders to use their positions of influence, whether on sports talk programs or in getting a spiritual message across using other means.”
In addition to promoting Catholic musicians, singers and songwriters, WSFI plans to catechize youth who often struggle with right and wrong. Combining Catholic moral teaching with sports advocates is a way to do that, Tomlinson said.
“We are hoping to be a clearinghouse for people looking for services and to be able to help them,” she said. “We will have the media and resources to help them reach out to the public in this listening area. This informational system can assist people with the corporal and spiritual acts of mercy to offer other local nonprofits, help with aging parents, programming to assist baby boomers and grandchildren alike to make the best of every second the Lord gave them. We want to focus on the usefulness of life. If we are still breathing, we still have life and purpose.”
Cardinal George sent a letter of support for the radio station.
“Research on the impact of Catholic radio is very positive,” wrote Cardinal George. “One recent survey found that listeners of Catholic radio are more spiritually engaged and inspired by their faith, better educated in it, and more adequately prepared to teach their children about Catholicism. As we strive to implement Blessed John Paul II’s call for a new evangelization, Catholic radio helps us to spread the message of the Gospel and enables us to reach thousands who might never come to a parish to attend a Bible study session or Catechism class.”
As the spiritual director and one of three volunteer chaplains for the station, Father John Jamnicky, pastor of St. Raphael the Archangel Parish, said the station will be an opportunity to promote the new evangelization in this Year of Faith.
“This is a great way to communicate what is happening with the life of the church, and with all Catholics in the area, to help them get closer to the church and learn what is available to them with this new means of communication,” he said.
“There will be great variety on this station and it will be a wonderful opportunity for all parishes in the listening area to advertise Catholic radio and be participants in it to one degree or another.”
Important to Jamnicky is the opportunity to broadcast weekly Mass for those unable to attend church.
“I am really hoping we can do it from St. Raphael’s,” he said. “Mass should be available on the radio each week.

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