- Associated Press - Saturday, June 6, 2015

BEATRICE, Neb. (AP) - Spirit Catholic Radio is now ‘on air’ in Beatrice and surrounding areas.

As of May 20, 100.1 FM KPKA-LP is available within a 10 mile radius of St. Joseph Catholic Church - where the antenna for the station streaming Spirit Catholic Radio recently was installed, the Beatrice Daily Sun (https://bit.ly/1dgVjMU ) reported.

Prior to that, Spirit Catholic Radio, a 16-year-old radio station based out of Omaha, wasn’t available in the area. The Rev. Robert Barnhill described it as being “fuzzy in the car” and not available at all in the home.

Barnhill said the goal is to give the people of Gage County and surrounding areas access to Catholic radio.

“Maybe they’ll be drawn to a deeper relationship with Christ or even seek information on the Catholic faith,” he said.

The process of bringing Spirit Catholic Radio to the area began in September 2013, after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said that communities in Nebraska could have low-power FM signals.

From there, Spirit Catholic Radio Executive Director John Carroll contacted various communities across the state and asked if they would be interested in broadcasting the station’s programming.

Nine communities got involved, including Beatrice. The FCC rules stated that a nonprofit organization would have to go through an application process and raise the funds to pay for the radio signal in an 18-month period.

The members of St. Joseph in Beatrice did just that. They formed a board made up of three people - Barnhill, Duane Oden and Paul Korslund - and a second organization called the St. Isadore Catholic Radio Apostolate, made up of 12 people. The new radio station, KPKA-LP, dons the same name, St. Isadore Catholic Radio of Beatrice.

The 12-member group met regularly for fundraisers. They participated in the community-wide fundraiser last September and had a lot of support from the Knights of Columbus and private donors.

The Knights of Columbus contributed a major donation by sponsoring a Sunday breakfast and selling Christmas cards.

In total, they raised $15,000 - $12,500 to pay for the equipment and $2,500 for contingency. There are monthly expenses, such as paying for the WiFi required to pick up the signal before broadcasting it.

Today, the antenna reigns from the top of the bell tower of the Catholic church on Sixth and High streets. There’s a small radio system a couple floors down.

The idea of spreading the Catholic faith by means of broadcast is nothing new, Barnhill said.

Bringing it to Beatrice and surrounding areas is just part of the ultimate goal of being able to drive anywhere in Nebraska and have access to Spirit Catholic Radio, said Nancy Rohe, a member of the St. Isadore Catholic Radio Apostolate.

“I’ve always believed in the vision of Catholic radio in the state of Nebraska. It was just something I’ve been interested in for a long time, and when father asked me to participate, I jumped at the chance to offer my help,” she said.

It was watching Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) - a Catholic television network - while working the night shift at the Beatrice Community Hospital that Rohe said brought her back to the Catholic faith after 16 years of non-practice.

Spirit Catholic Radio Director John Carroll said the station is happy to have Beatrice as an affiliate. He said soon the station will also be available in Imperial and Holdrege.

Spirit Catholic Radio, a talk-based station, was formed in 1999 in Omaha and in 2009 added two additional broadcasting stations in Lincoln and Grand Island. Currently they can be heard in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, South Dakota and most recently in Wisconsin.

St. Joseph has yard signs available at the church for anyone who would like to promote that the 100.1 FM signal is now available in the area.

___

Information from: Beatrice Sun, https://www.beatricedailysun.com

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