NORWALK — A Ridgefield man is purchasing WNLK-AM 1350 radio and will begin broadcasting EWTN programming throughout Fairfield County, the north shore of Long Island and parts of Westchester after the application is approved by the FCC, a process that typically takes 45 days.
Steve Lee, President & CEO of Veritas Catholic Network Inc., is purchasing the station and an FM translator W280FX at 103.9 MHz from Sacred Heart University, which owns several AM and FM stations. The translator will allow Veritas to simulcast on the FM dial.
Veritas plans to broadcast EWTN programming 24 hours a day, seven days a week in addition to providing local coverage of Catholic and community events.
Lee said the EWTN programming will include “Catholic Answers Live,” “Called to Communion” with Dr. David Anders, “Kresta in the Afternoon,” “The Doctor Is In” with Dr. Ray Guarendi and “Christ Is the Answer” with Father John Riccardo.
Veritas will also simulcast shows like “The World Over” with Raymond Arroyo and classic programs featuring Mother Angelica and Father Benedict Groeschel.
He said Veritas will have a local presence at parish festivals, school fairs, sporting events and conferences at Catholic colleges and universities. Some morning drive-time shows he plans to produce will feature a rotating cast of clergy, including Bishop Frank Caggiano, parish and school news, and programs for young people and religious communities in the area. In addition, he plans coverage of community events such as the Norwalk Oyster Festival.
Listeners will also be able to live stream through the veritascatholic.com website and an app that is being developed.
Lee hopes to begin broadcasting in several months, and his future plans include building an office and a studio.
Bishop Caggiano, who is on the board of Veritas, has said, “The Lord can touch people in profound ways while they are sitting on the Merritt Parkway.” He has voiced his support of the effort, which he called “a new frontier for our Diocese.”
Lee, who worked in finance on Wall Street, stresses the importance of radio in evangelizing and bringing the Catholic faith to listeners.
“I’m sure there is a woman in Fairfield County who is pregnant and scared and thinking about having an abortion,” he said. “And a young man who is questioning his faith and a homebound lonely grandmother with no family nearby. We will bring them the truth and beauty and goodness of the Catholic faith. We can help that young mother, that young man and that grandmother. We can bring Christ to them. We will do it because we have a mandate, a duty as Catholics, to evangelize.”
The mission of Veritas Catholic Network, he said, is to share the truth of the Gospel and fullness of the Catholic faith by broadcasting faithful and entertaining programs on multiple media platforms.
“Catholic radio is a consistent, steady, faithful teacher, and our broadcast will be available day and night,” Lee said. “People will be able to encounter Christ through what we bring them.”
Lee cited research that suggested 93 percent of Americans 12 and older listen to terrestrial radio every week and that 82 percent of media consumers 18 and older prefer AM/FM radio.
“There is a great market here, with 400,000 Catholics,” he said. “Our diocese benefits from an outstanding bishop and strong priests, but like Catholics everywhere, there is a need for a new evangelization that spreads the faith. We hope to extend the Sunday experience out to all seven days so that Catholics in the diocese can become more involved and more educated.”
A survey of 1100 EWTN listeners showed that 56 percent said Catholic radio helped them teach their children, 58 percent increased the amount of time they give to others, and 51 percent became more involved in their parishes. In addition, 127 respondents said it helped save their marriages, 78 converted to Catholicism and 129 considered a vocation to the priesthood or religious life.
“Catholic radio has had remarkable effects on society, particularly in Catholic communities,” Lee said. “There are conversions to the Church, a deeper understanding of Catholic teaching among the faithful, a strengthening of Catholic families, support for Catholic schools and parishes, as well as for Catholic business owners who provide underwriting for these stations.”
There are currently 380 EWTN affiliates in the United States. After operations begin in Fairfield County, Lee hopes the network can expand further into Westchester County and New York City and eventually throughout Connecticut.
Lee and his wife, Roula, whom he credits with providing him spiritual and moral support for his initiative, live in Ridgefield with their three children.