Since it began broadcasting five years ago, St. John Paul II Catholic Radio has borne much spiritual fruit and fostered Catholic community in the Imperial Valley.
“We get letters all the time,” said Raul Caro, the radio apostolate’s founder and director, referring to the many listeners who have shared that they have a better understanding of the faith and are closer to God as a result of the Catholic programming that airs 24 hours a day on KCJP 95.7 FM in El Centro and K227BN 93.3 FM in Brawley.
Caro may soon be receiving similar feedback from Catholics in San Diego County. His new station, KFSD 1450 AM, will start beaming Catholic content from a radio tower in Escondido, beginning in mid-February.
St. John Paul II Catholic Radio (JP2 Radio) covers most of Imperial County and can be accessed online at jp2radio.com.
The new station will expand its reach to an additional million potential listeners. During daytime hours, the signal will carry to most of San Diego County, excluding the South Bay. He hopes to acquire an affiliate station in downtown San Diego in late spring to further expand the coverage area.
San Diego County already has Catholic radio programming, courtesy of Relevant Radio, which can be heard on KCEO 1000 AM. Caro believes that JP2 Radio has something to offer, based on the community-minded approach that it has cultivated in the Imperial Valley.
“Rather than be another syndicated network feed, we try to be more of a local, community radio station,” said Caro. “That’s what our real goal is.”
(On the Spanish-language side, two Internet-based stations provide local Catholic programming, hombrenuevo.com and renovacioncatolicasd.com/radio. In addition, Los Angeles-based Guadalupe Radio provides programming online at guadaluperadio.com.)
JP2 Radio, an apostolate of the Lay Brothers of the Poor, is 501c3 nonprofit corporation supported by listeners.
Before JP2 Radio made its debut in El Centro, Caro said, Catholic events in the Imperial Valley were “few and far between.” But then, the radio apostolate began hosting an annual dinner in 2015 and an annual winter conference in 2016. These events drew between 400 and 500 people from throughout the region, fostered community, and provided opportunities to hear popular Catholic radio personalities, like Patrick Madrid, Jesuit Father Mitch Pacwa and Dr. Ray Guarendi in person, he said.
Early 2019 marked the debut of the station’s first locally produced show, “Sacred Heart Narratives.”
More recently, when the Covid-19 pandemic led to the cancellation of high school commencements, Caro said, the station accepted a local pastor’s request to announce the names of graduating Catholic high school students as they arrived for a socially distant drive-by event.
“We’ve done a lot of little things like that that made a big difference,” said Caro, who expressed hope that the station might be able to accomplish similar things in San Diego County.
Caro said that his radio operation prides itself on being independent, broadcasting curated content from three Catholic radio networks – EWTN, Ave Maria and Relevant Radio – picking what he believes to be “the best blend” of programming. Ultimately, he would like to establish a physical studio in San Diego County and is seeking community partners to produce San Diego-specific content.
Steve Beuerle, who with Caro serves as co-director of IHS Media, the nonprofit that was formed to purchase the San Diego-based radio station, agreed that the station will be “much more local” and “much more live.”
Explaining how there is room in San Diego County for both Relevant Radio and St. John Paul II Catholic Radio, Beuerle predicted that some listeners will naturally prefer one station’s format and other listeners will discover favorite shows on both stations and alternate between them.
Beuerle noted that the station will be airing “Catholic Answers Live.”
The popular apologetics show, which boasts listeners nationwide but is produced locally in El Cajon, was dropped from Relevant Radio’s line-up in December 2018, said its host, Cy Kellett. Because Relevant Radio operates most of the Catholic radio stations in California, that means that “Catholic Answers Live” hasn’t aired in much of the state in recent years.
Kellett explained that, while “Catholic Answers Live” has been broadcast by St. John Paul II Catholic Radio in the Imperial Valley and on a low-power FM station in downtown San Diego, KFSD (AM 1450) will be “a big, booming station that covers a much larger listening audience….”
The above comes from a Dec. 22 story in the San Diego diocese paper, the Southern Cross.