The strengths and weaknesses of radio

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Catholic Radio is A Catholic University of the Air

"I solemnly swear to teach all truth all the time--the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God." Well, except for the occasional joke and/or scholarly opinion, whichever comes first.

Catholic Radio is a Worship Service

God creates an assembly that we cannot see. He gives us a portion of His Spirit--a lavish portion!--while we are on the air. "Where two or three are gathered in my Name, there am I in the midst of them" (Mt 18:20).

Catholic Radio is sacramental

The broadcasts are outward signs of inward realities. Each show is an act of faith, hope, and love.

Radio is not a classroom.

I have to bear in mind that the radio show is not a classroom.

Things that work well in the classroom do not translate into the radio format.

In the classroom On the air
"Silence is golden." Silence is dead air.
I have the same students, day after day. I expect them to remember the last class and plan on seeing them again to follow up on this class. Every unit must be self-contained. It has to stand on its own legs because the listeners come and go as they please. I have to supply--briefly!--whatever is needed to understand what I'm saying when I'm saying it.
I can correct and augment what I am saying through body language, homework assignments, handouts, and the use of the chalk board. We can read texts together and take long pauses while the students struggle to answer questions about the text. Silence is very appropriate for the classroom setting. Our listeners listen when, where, as they can. I cannot expect them to follow complex exegesis. KISS: Keep it super-simple!
Students are grouped by age and by the level of education they have attained. Our audience is anybody and everybody.

Radio is a one-room schoolhouse.

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We are dealing with all types of people: young and old; simple and educated; pious and impious; believers and unbelievers.

"The more you listen, the more you learn" (EWTN slogan).

We want to preach Jesus, in season and out.
We need to answer objections to the faith made both by our adversaries and by honest inquirers.
We intend to teach the truths of the Catholic faith as taught by the Magisterium.
We need to encourage Catholics to keep on keeping on, "in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health," until death leads us to new life.
We need to learn how to think if we are to think well about God.
A general theory of how we interpret signs, symbols, and words.
We need to love God "with our whole mind and with all our strength." The faith cannot endure if it is not understood. It's not just academic. We give God glory through clear knowledge of and praise for His essence, presence, power, and saving works. We cannot love well if we do not know our Beloved.
The effort to determine and explain the meaning of Scripture.

Listeners choose to listen.

The beauty of radio is in the willingness of listeners to listen. It is a free choice, unencumbered by requirements for a degree, term papers, and final exams. People listen because they want to hear about Jesus. Their hearts and their minds are open to God in a very special way. God sees the secrets of their hearts and can do what He wills with the seeds that we sow. Cor ad cor loquitur.


"Reality radio."
Real people talk to real people about real life issues. God is for real.
Each broadcast offers people a chance to do a reality check. We want to live "Life on the Rock." We do not want to build on sand!
Tradition and Discovery: something old, something new. Integrating our lives into what already is. We are brand new. Unique. Small infinities. We are of eternal interest. Whatever it is that we love about reality TV ... we interest each other. Our stories intertwine. "The first 100 years are the hardest."
"Catholic Reality Radio."
We promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The whole truth for the whole world. Keeping everything Jesus gave us for everybody in the world.
"Spiritual GPS"
GPS and the Church. Navigating on a pilgrimage. How many explorers of the west went without native guides? How many broke absolutely new trails?
The path to Heaven is well-known. It is Jesus.
Each one of us is an explorer because our own hearts are an untrod wilderness. The frontier is inside of us, not outside of us. Wild and untamed. "Go bravely where no man has ever gone before."
We need to know both our destination and the nearby terrain in order to decide which way to turn.
If we are heading in the wrong direction, we need to repent.
"I take refuge in Jesus, I take refuge in the dharma, I take refuge in the sangha."
Radio is theater of the mind.
We get people thinking and seeing things in a new way. Their imaginations supply what is lacking in our words.
Totally random radio
People can ask us anything any time!
Easy does it.
Wu wei works.
"Let go and let God."
I don't have to take it personally.
Some shows are more exciting than others. That's normal. People get busy with other things. The ebb and flow of interaction with our listeners is not under our control. "We did not cause them, we cannot cure them, we cannot control them." Our listeners are God's children, not ours. I'm an excitement addict. But God is in charge of what happens whenever we are on the air, and He does not dance to the tunes I call for Him.
The show is an act of faith, an act of hope, and an act of love.
I carry my feelings of inadequacy around with me all the time. The fact that I feel good after a show doesn't necessarily mean it was a good show; the fact that I feel bad after a show doesn't necessarily mean that it was a bad show. God is the judge of what we did or did not accomplish on the air. It's His baby, not mine. It is a great privilege to help babysit once a week.
Every show is an adventure.
Some great radio programs that I enjoy begin with the host saying, "We have a great show planned tonight." We can't say that because we need free-will offerings from our listeners to bring the show to life.
We can walk on the water when Jesus calls us to do so.
If I try to walk on the water according to my own will, I'll sink with St. Peter. "Save me, Lord!"
Thank God for His Kindnesses
Beware of Acquired Situational Narcissism. "ASN is also known, colloquially, as believing your own [press releases]" (Pat Thrasher).
We are earthen vessels--servants of the Word
"When you have done all you have been commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do'" (Lk 17:10).