Catholic Radio Station To Soon Have Presence in Harvard
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
February 3, 2022
HARVARD—“I’m happy to inform you (that) Catholic Spirit Radio has received a ‘construction permit’ to put up another radio station in Harvard. The signal will be directed toward Rockford, so many of your fellow citizens will be able to hear us.”
 
This note from Dr. Carl J. Wenning, director of development for this affiliate of the EWTN Global Catholic Radio Network, shares the latest effort by the audio ministry to expand its outreach. 
 
Begun with the approval of Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of the Diocese of Peoria, the independently owned station broadcasts for 24 hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year. It is operated by Catholic laity, and all of them are volunteers. The station is a federally recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation chartered in the State of Illinois and is supported by listeners.
 
It began broadcasting on March 9, 2011, to Bloomington and Central, adding Pontiac and Livingston County Dec. 3, 2018, and Lincoln and Logan County on May 2, 2019, eventually transmitting with four stations along Interstate 55, with a potential listening audience of 250,000, says its website. As of the end of 2021, Catholic Spirit Radio has been broadcasting in DeKalb, Sycamore and Cortland in DeKalb County on 89.1 FM.
 
Catholic Spirit Radio’s mission statement reads: “It is our mission to share the Good News revealed by Jesus Christ. We use resources of Mother Angelica’s Eternal Word Television and Radio Network along with a sprinkling of local shows and personalities to help Catholics better know, share, and defend their faith, and to help others to discover the way, the truth, and the life that is Jesus Christ.”
 
In addition to programs from EWTN and several other Catholic radio networks, volunteers produce weekly programs dealing with topics of local interest.
 
History
 
In 2007, radio engineers Jon Hall and his evangelical-Protestant coworker were working for New Life Radio installing studios, transmitters and antennas around the Midwest. Their long drives led to conversations about beginning their own station. 
 
Hall left to work in Normal as a radio engineer in mid-2007 but the conversation continued, and the men applied to the Federal Communications Commission, receiving a license after a year’s wait. 
 
The license was issued in 2008 under the corporate name, “2820 Communications, Inc.,” (for Mt 28:19-20). The requested callsign “WSPI” was given, chosen to honor the Holy Spirit. The original tower they were provided required a too-expensive directional antenna, and the pair ended up lowering their sights to a cell phone tower near Arrowsmith. 
 
WSPI went on air early in 2011, broadcasting generic, royalty-free music. Within weeks, Hall’s friend moved to Tennessee for a new job, and Hall decided to begin a Catholic radio station. Soon WSPI was admitted to the EWTN network and carried the name “Catholic Spirit Radio.” Generous donors have made the expansion of Catholic Spirit Radio possible.
 
Regarding plans to begin to broadcast from Harvard, Dr. Wenning says, “We just received the license for Harvard in December, and it typically takes anywhere from $35,000 to $50,000 to set up a new radio station … We will be talking with a group of donor prospects in the coming months …Otherwise, we are looking at 1-2 years at the current rate of fundraising.”
 
In addition to always-greatly-welcomed donations (contact Dr. Wenning at development@catholicspiritradio.org), volunteers from the community and from parishes are vital and can assist with daily operational tasks and special events. 
 
Call 309-807-2427 to volunteer for those needs or to assist the station with its special needs of graphic arts, video editing, and marketing.
 
Catholic Spirit Radio is headquartered at 2820 Communications, 108 Boeykens Place, Normal, IL 61761.
 
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