- Associated Press - Sunday, April 10, 2016

BROKEN ARROW, Okla. (AP) - Two men in their 20s are the unlikely owners and operators of Broken Arrow’s only local Catholic radio station, St. Michael Catholic Radio, 102.9 FM.

Neither David Niles nor Adam Minihan had any experience or expertise in broadcasting when they launched the project.

The Tulsa World (https://bit.ly/1WbeKty ) reports that they met in kindergarten and have been lifelong friends. Now married with children, their families live one house away from each other in Broken Arrow.

They roomed together after college and got in the habit of listening to Catholic radio. They often talked together about issues facing Catholics.

Their adventure in broadcasting started in late 2013, Niles said. The two friends were together at Minihan’s house when an email arrived from Jeff Finnell, the president of Oklahoma Catholic Broadcasting in Oklahoma City, whom they had never met.

The email said, in effect: “I have a crazy idea for a radio station in Broken Arrow. You’ve got to call me tonight if we’re going to pull this off.”

They called him and learned the Federal Communications Commission was offering a license to run a low-power, 100-watt radio station in Broken Arrow, and that the application deadline was at midnight that night, just three hours away.

“We loved the idea. We were big fans of Catholic radio,” Niles said. “We thought it was cool.”

With help from Finnell, they completed the application before the deadline and submitted it online. It had an error that would have caused it to be rejected, but the FCC website crashed that night, and the deadline was extended one day, allowing them to submit a corrected application.

In less than two weeks, they learned they were approved. They had two years to get on the air, otherwise they would lose the license.

With the backing of Bishop Edward J. Slattery of the Diocese of Tulsa, they promoted the idea at Catholic churches in the area. In one weekend, they raised the $30,000 needed to buy all the broadcast equipment, rent space on Channel 47’s tower on south Memorial Drive and hire a tower-climber crew to put up an antenna. The equipment is in a small shed at Channel 47 and is run remotely from Minihan’s and Niles’ homes.

They incorporated as a nonprofit, and St. Michael Catholic Radio went on the air Nov. 23, 2014.

The station carries 24-hour-a-day programming provided free of charge by Eternal Word Television Network, a global Catholic network based in Birmingham, Alabama. EWTN was founded by Mother Angelica, who died on Easter Sunday this year at age 92.

Low-power FM stations usually have a reach of about 10 miles, depending on terrain. St. Michael Catholic Radio on 102.9 reaches less than 10 miles north, but much farther south and east.

The monthly operating cost of about $1,000 comes from an annual fundraiser, from business sponsors who pay for air time and from donations. Niles, a Morgan Stanley financial adviser, and Minihan, a manufacturer’s representative, volunteer their time to run the station.

In addition to the national programming, the station has added local programming.

Diocese of Tulsa Deacon Tim Sullivan and Cyndi Kane do a weekly half-hour talk show at 1:30 p.m. Fridays called Two Edge Talk.

“We talk about living an ancient faith in the modern world,” Sullivan said, with topics such as marriage, parenting, understanding Catholic principles, how to evangelize and how to relate to people of other faiths.

“We intentionally try not to be overly theological … but practical,” he said.

Timothy Putnam, former family life director at the Diocese of Tulsa, now living in Dallas, has a one-hour talk show at 10 a.m. Saturdays.

Niles and Minihan will begin their weekly half-hour show, The Catholic Man, at 7 p.m. Thursday.

“It’s about the virtues of manhood … how to live the Catholic faith as a man in the secular world,” Minihan said.

The first part of the introductory show will be about Irish whiskey and Leatherman pocket knives, followed by the story of how they started the radio station.

That story will borrow a theme from Mother Angelica, the “ridiculously miraculous … you have to do the ridiculous, so God can do the miraculous,” Minihan said.

The two friends said the station has been well-received.

“People tell us all the time that they listen,” Niles said. “We get nothing but positive feedback.”

“We even got an email from an atheist who loves it,” Minihan said.

St. Michael Catholic Radio can be live-streamed from its website, stmichaelradio.com, or from a cellphone app.


Information from: Tulsa World, https://www.tulsaworld.com

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