Catholic radio now reaches the Waco area
By Mary P. Walker
The Religious Education for the Domestic Church (RED-C) Apostolate began in the Bryan/College Station area as a group of families committed to learning about and supporting each other in their Catholic faith.
In 2010, RED-C became a radio ministry when KEDC-FM 88.5 went on the air, reaching listeners in Hearne, Bryan, College Station and surrounding communities. Last December, RED-C announced that it acquired KYAR-FM 98.3, bringing Catholic radio to Waco and the northern part of the Austin Diocese.
“The most exciting aspect of this growth is the number of lives that God can touch. Catholic radio is positive talk radio in a world that needs to hear more uplifting messages in the light of the Gospel,” said Dennis Macha, president of RED-C.
Macha, a team of benefactors and volunteers built the first radio station from the ground up. They taught themselves the process of applying for a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) license, built a broadcast tower, developed local programming and secured studio space from St. Mary Catholic Center at Texas A&M University.
In contrast, KYAR was an established station, broadcasting Christian programming. Like its sister station, KYAR now assumes a Catholic identity, with programs from EWTN Global Catholic Radio Network and Relevant Radio. KYAR also plans to air locally developed programs to meet the community’s needs.
Macha said that acquiring an existing radio station brought different challenges, with the Holy Spirit removing the roadblocks along the way. When the team at RED-C saw the blessings KEDC brought to the Brazos Valley, they believed that the Holy Spirit inspired them to consider expanding into the northern area of the diocese, which did not have access to Catholic radio.
As KEDC’s only employee, Macha ran the day-to-day operations and worked on a plan for growth. At first, he thought that the best way to bring Catholic radio to more people was by acquiring low power stations. However, the stations were too expensive to buy, and there were problems with the licensing approval process.
Facing these roadblocks, the team wondered if God had even bigger plans. They realized that if the ministry was to expand in outreach, it would have to hire another person for current operations, freeing Macha to focus on fundraising and growth possibilities. At their annual benefit dinner in 2015, RED-C supporters generously committed the funding to hire Thaddeus Romansky as general manager.
In the meantime, Father Will Straten, who grew up in West and is currently the pastor of St. Helen Parish in Georgetown, referred Macha to Stephanie Lee, a member of St. Mary’s Church of the Assumption Parish in West. With a master’s degree in journalism from Baylor, Lee worked for a radio station in Waco. She has experience in sports, Top 40, country and public radio. In addition, she has an open and determined spirit, demonstrated by overcoming the challenges blindness brings to her life.
While she was happy with her job, Lee believed that God was calling her to use her skills more directly for his service.
“I want to incorporate my faith into my professional career,” Lee said.
Macha described their meeting as the Holy Spirit in action. Lee was helpful in connecting RED-C to others who could aid them in bringing Catholic radio to the area. When KYAR came on the market for sale, RED-C was positioned to begin the complex negotiation to purchase the station and secure the funds for the $500,000 price tag.
To date, benefactors have donated about one-fourth of the purchase price, with the remainder coming from a loan from the Austin Diocesan Council of Catholic Women Clerical Endowment Fund. Because this fund benefits parish building programs and seminarian education, the RED-C organization feels blessed to know that their payments are directly supporting the future of the Catholic Church in the diocese.
KYAR is operated as a noncommercial station, with Lee as the station director. The Internet and specially developed computer hardware and software allow her to run the station from her home office.
Lee especially looks forward to the ministry possibilities that locally developed programs offer. RED-C’s experience in the Brazos Valley shows that Catholic radio can be a uniting force for the good of the universal church among parishes.
Father Daniel Liu, pastor of St. Peter Catholic Student Center at Baylor University and dean of the Waco Deanery, is pleased that Catholic radio is now available in the area.
“Catholic radio gives a sense of connection with the larger community of faith and allows them to be built up by truthful and faithful messages,” Father Liu said.
Lee encourages the listening public to contact her at www.redcradio.org for more information, to volunteer, share ideas or sponsor local programming at KYAR.
The following radio stations broadcast Catholic radio programming in the Austin Diocese.
Austin metro area
Brazos Valley area
Radio Encuentro (Spanish programming only)