PROVIDENCE — Relevant Radio, the country’s largest Catholic radio network, is more than just a radio station. With a full schedule of Catholic programming that offers news, faith witnesses and prayer, the organization considers its work a ministry to nourish the faith and evangelize to its 133 million listeners in 39 states, including, since 2012, listeners in Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts. The local station, which broadcasts on Providence-based 550 AM WSJW, is the recipient of a Lumen Gentium Award in the category of Communications.
Relevant Radio’s story began in northern Wisconsin in 2000. Several years after Pope John Paul II called for a “new evangelization” of lapsed Catholics, a group of Catholics from the Diocese of Green Bay opened the first Relevant Radio station on November 26, the Solemnity of Christ the King. Over the next 18 years, the organization would spread its mission to listeners across the United States, including Lise Doyle, a parishioner at Precious Blood Parish, Woonsocket, and director of the Providence station.
“I started listening after retiring from a 25-year career and I liked it so much I started volunteering,” Doyle told Rhode Island Catholic during a recent interview. “It’s really changed everything. The way we parent, the way we live our lives — it was life-changing.”
In addition to providing all-day Catholic programming, the local station helps promote Catholic organizations and hosts events for local Catholic clergy and laity. A recently established parish ambassador program aims to spread the word about Relevant Radio’s mission to parishes throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
“As their faith deepens, they become more involved with their parish and they have a closer relationship with Jesus Christ, which makes all of us better people,” said Doyle.
The organization has been expanding on a national level as well. In 2017, Relevant Radio merged with Immaculate Heart Radio, a major Catholic radio network founded in 1997. By combining the two networks, which did not compete with each other geographically, the organizations were able to expand their ministry to reach listeners from coast to coast.
According to Doyle, that ministry extends to all levels of the organization, including the employees, who participate in 30 minutes of organization-wide religious reading and reflection every Thursday. It is one of the many ways a nationwide radio network keeps itself grounded in its original mission to share the truth of the Catholic faith.
“It’s a mission. Our mission is to help the church evangelize by providing Catholic programming,” said Doyle. “We are really humbled to be considered for this award.”
Over the next several weeks, Rhode Island Catholic will feature profiles of the winners of the diocese’s 2018 Lumen Gentium Awards, which formally recognize those who ‘toil in the vineyard’ in service to the Lord, and minister to those in greatest need in their parish or community. The honorees will be awarded during a dinner at Twin River Event Center in Lincoln on Wednesday, May 16. Guests wishing to purchase tickets to the dinner — whose proceeds will support Diocesan Hispanic Ministries — are asked to register online at www.dioceseofprovidence.org/lumen-gentium-awards. For any questions about the event, please call 401-277-2121.