Behind the controls at Holy Family Radio WHYF AM720 in Shiremanstown, Joe Murphy’s voice is loud and clear about the station’s evangelization efforts.
“Do you know that there is a Catholic radio station in central Pennsylvania? Have you listened to it, or supported it? It’s going to help you grow and deepen your faith.”
That’s the message Murphy, a senior producer and longtime volunteer, wants to share as Holy Family Radio celebrates its tenth on-air anniversary this month.
It’s a milestone which station founders, employees, volunteers and listeners are rightfully celebrating, as Holy Family Radio continues to expand its accessibility and programs.
“The station is on a trajectory that we’ve never had before,” said station manager Joe Nebistinsky. He’s been involved in the apostolate even before the station first went live on the airwaves, helping to paint the walls of its storefront Main Street studio. For several years, Nebistinsky volunteered on its fundraising committee before taking the reins as station manager last August.
While much has changed since the first on-air date of August 25, 2010, the core mission has remained steadfast: “Embracing the call of Vatican II for lay evangelization through the power of the media…utilizing radio broadcasts to provide, through prayer and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Truth of the Holy Catholic Church for the nourishment of our Catholic family and to share our faith with others.”
Starting out solely at 720 AM on the radio dial, the station has expanded its reach through the digital realm. Listeners can now tune in live at www.720whyf.com, access the station on the myTuner Radio app, or listen to its programs as podcasts on PodBean. What’s more, the station is working on creating its own app, and hopes to reveal it by Christmas, Nebistinsky said.
Holy Family Radio’s most popular program continues to be the broadcast of daily Mass from EWTN at 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. weekdays. EWTN also provides programs such as “Catholic Connection” with Teresa Tomeo, “Women of Grace” with Johnette Benkovic Williams, “Kresta in the Afternoon” and “Catholic Answers Live.”
Local programming is a hit with listeners too, and Holy Family Radio continues to expand its shows connecting people to the Church and community here at home. Local shows include:
- “Catholic Perspective,” a weekly 30-minute, award-winning radio program of the Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg. It features news, information and inspiration for all people of faith.
- “The Family Show,” featuring parishioners Brenda and Randy Lee, parents of six, and host Eleanor Rossman for a weekly discussion on practical ways to deepen our Catholic faith.
- “Knight Talk,” locally-produced by the Knights of Columbus of the Diocese of Harrisburg. The show is hosted by Joe Murphy and Mike Yakubick and spotlights information about the fraternal organization. In-studio guests are featured on most of the shows.
- “Minute Meditations,” heard throughout the day, are reflections on faith by Father Timothy Sahd, pastor of Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Middletown and Holy Family Radio’s spiritual advisor. Father Sahd breaks down all things Catholic into practical, faith-filled insights.
- “Reflections from the Heart,” a Scripture reflection hosted by David Abel. The 30-minute program is an outreach of Gospel Reflection.
- “BRI Investing,” a one-hour program hosted by Bill Parker, who discusses faith-based investing that seeks to glorify God.
- “Gospel Reflections from Bishop Gainer,” where the bishop provides a 30-second reflection on the Sunday Gospel.
A new show is also in the works, which Nebistinsky hopes will begin airing by the end of August. “Central Pennsylvania Voices” will feature conversations with real people living their Catholic faith in their everyday lives.
“We have more local shows than we’ve ever had,” said Nebistinsky.
Become Part of the Family
Holy Family Radio has some special programming in store for listeners to celebrate its tenth anniversary.
Tune in on Wednesday, August 25 – the date the station first hit the radio waves – for unique features, including the anniversary special, “Ten Years of Sharing.” Special programming will air at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Then, on October 18, 19 and 20, Holy Family Radio will host a pledge drive from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. each day, featuring live in-studio guests celebrating a decade of nourishing and sharing the faith. The drive will encourage listeners to join the family at Holy Family Radio by pledging $10 a month in honor of the tenth anniversary.
Listener support is critical to the non-profit apostolate, and the station founders, staff and volunteers continue to express their gratitude for the financial support from listeners – some who go back as far as the station’s roots, when founders LeonaFrances Woskowiak and Betty Girven raised the needed funds to get it off the ground.
“On this special occasion there are so many people to thank,” said Woskowiak. “There were many monthly donors and regular donors as well as sponsors who have continued to support us over these past ten years, and our heartfelt thanks go to them.”
“There are so many people to thank at this time, from those who send the $5 bill to the $500 check that we received. They were all sent for the honor and glory of God and have made Holy Family Radio a successful Catholic station,” she added. “To each and every one who in any way helped to bring the Word of God to our people, thank you and may God richly bless you for helping us in our work.”
“With thankful hearts we ask God to bless all the donors, volunteers, staff, and sponsors who helped make Holy Family Radio a reality,” Girven expressed. “Now, we know that if God wills it, He will make it happen. May His love touch and sustain every single one of you who were and are part of God’s plan.”
Nebistinsky is hopeful that the October pledge drive will assemble a number of consistently recurring donors for increased sustainability. He also voiced his appreciation for the number of listeners who support the station with their ongoing prayers and their donations of wish-list items.
“All of those who contribute – financially, with prayers or with material goods – are keys to our success,” he said.
A comprehensive website (www.720whyf.com), a Facebook page, YouTube channel and monthly e-newsletter are among the ways Holy Family Radio is continuing its efforts to reach the community.
Russ Fry came on board in February as the station’s Community Relations Coordinator, and hit the ground running in making connections with Knights of Columbus councils, the local chamber of commerce and area nursing homes.
“Evangelization is our mission. There’s no other purpose for this station but to evangelize and share the message of the Gospel. We want as many people as possible to know this station exists, and to listen in,” Fry said.
“We want to get the word out. We’re delivering the Mass and local programs directly to those who are homebound. We’re sharing the faith with non-Catholic listeners, and nourishing the faith of others,” he said.
Longtime producer Joe Murphy, on board for nine of the station’s ten years, touts Holy Family Radio for its evangelization.
“Being a cradle Catholic, I know the Catholic faith, but when I listen to the station on my way home, I realize that while I know things about the faith, I don’t know how to explain it well to others. There’s always something more to mine and explore. Working here has helped to deepen my faith,” he said.
The founders, board members, professionals and volunteers at Holy Family Radio invite you to join the family, and celebrate with them as they mark ten years of nourishing and sharing the faith. Tune in at 720AM, www.720whyf.com or on the myTuner Radio app to be a part of the only Catholic radio station in central Pennsylvania as a listener, supporter or volunteer.
“What we’re doing here is evangelization,” Nebistinsky said. “We have Catholics and non-Catholics who listen to us. I tell people their support of us means they’re participating in the New Evangelization that St. John Paul II called us to. This is exactly why we’re here.”
(Photo by Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness.)
By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness