Catholic radio station may be coming to Peoria area

Catholic radio may be coming to the Peoria area by the end of 2009.

The Catholic Post has learned that a local group hopes to make WPMJ 94.3 FM, Peoria-Chillicothe, the latest radio station in the EWTN Catholic radio affiliate network. Plans are under way to start the process of conversion during the month of December.

The station has had several formats since it signed on in 1977, with it last being known as “Peoria’s True Oldies Channel.” It had been off the air for nearly a year while owner Kelly Communications sought a buyer.

In late August, a group known as CRCI LLC — headed by project manager Allen Drake of El Paso — entered into a letter of intent to assume operation of the station, with a definitive agreement reached Sept. 27.

As details continue to be worked out this fall, interim non-commercial programming is being broadcast to comply with FCC regulations.

EWTN Global Catholic Network airs family and religious programming from a Catholic point of view. The acronym EWTN stands for Eternal Word Television Network and is based in Birmingham, Ala. EWTN, founded by Mother Mary Angelica, PCPA, has been producing programs for 28 years and includes television, radio, satellite radio, and Internet streaming.

Providing more than 80 percent original programming, EWTN offers inspiring talk shows, entertaining children’s programs, exclusive teaching series, live coverage of church events, and thought-provoking documentaries.

The new Catholic radio station would debut as the Diocese of Peoria continues to promote the beatification cause of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, the famed media pioneer who utilized radio as well as television and the written word to educate about Christ and the church.

Archbishop Sheen was born and baptized in El Paso, where Drake resides and is a member of St. Mary’s Parish.

“I and the rest of the group have been blessed by the Catholic Church and EWTN and want others to have that opportunity,” he told The Catholic Post in explaining his desire to bring Catholic radio to Peoria.

WHILE the new Catholic radio station would be a first for the Peoria metropolitan area, other radio Catholic stations can be heard within the 26-county diocese, including:

— WSOG 88.1 FM in Spring Valley and 94.7 FM in the El Paso and Hudson areas, also featuring programming from EWTN Radio;

— KTJT-LP 102.7 FM in Davenport, Iowa (Quad Cities), featuring programming from Relevant Radio; and

— WRMS 790 AM in Beardstown, which can be picked up in Rushville, Macomb, Hamilton, Warsaw and Carthage. A member of Covenant Network Catholic Radio, the station is also an affiliate of the EWTN Global Radio Network.

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