After more than a decade of planning and prayer, Catholics in Anchorage are mere months away from having a radio station of their very own.
“Our slogan is ‘Changing hearts and changing lives,’” explained Brian Metras, lead coordinator of Holy Rosary Academy Radio.
“Our mission is to evangelize, educate, comfort, inform and inspire,” he said. “Our vision is to proclaim the truth of the Catholic Church with listener-supported radio in Anchorage that strengthens Catholics’ faith and acts as a voice and a resource for Catholic values and moral stances on public issues.”
Metras leads the volunteer group which has spearheaded the effort to make Catholic radio a reality. KHRM radio, which stands for Holy Rosary of Mary, will occupy 94.1 FM beginning in August of this year, transmitting to a 7-mile radius throughout Anchorage.
“We have to walk before we can run. We are starting small, making sure we understand the process of what we’re doing, and then we’ll explore something larger,” Metras explained.
In addition to this opportunity to evangelize and educate listeners, Catholic students will benefit from the presence of the station in Anchorage. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires a non-profit, listener-supported station to be owned by a non-profit institute of education that does not publish a newspaper. Holy Rosary Academy fits the bill.
KHRM will find its studio home on the second floor of Holy Rosary. Through a partnership with the University of Alaska Anchorage, students from Holy Rosary and other Catholic schools will have the opportunity to cultivate skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to help the station flourish.
Joy Chavez Mapaye, associate professor of journalism and communication at UAA, expressed excitement about student involvement with KHRM.
“It will be interesting for this to be integrated into the curriculum,” she said. “It’s a wonderful way to engage young people. This is their language. This is what they do. It is very much part of the digital culture we have now. This is something they will be excited about, and simply a wonderful way to foster their faith.”
For content, KHRM will initially transmit mostly EWTN content, a popular network of around-the-clock Catholic programming. Catholic events in Anchorage can also be transmitted, and the station can serve as a platform for Anchorage Archbishop Roger Schwietz and his successors.
“One of the most important things is allowing the archbishop to have time on the air, whenever he wants. We can play his homilies on the radio,” explained Pam Albrecht, a parishioner from Holy Family Cathedral who serves on the volunteer committee.
Securing the FM frequency proved to be the biggest hurdle to overcome in the quest to start a station. Bids had been unsuccessfully placed over the years with the FCC as far back as 2002. The process to secure a frequency is very competitive. In 2012, Dominican Father Francis Lee, who was then pastor at Holy Family Cathedral, encouraged Metras and other volunteers to make a newly energized attempt to establish Catholic radio in Anchorage. The team’s attempts were successful.
“Once we had the frequency in hand, that was the key that unlocked the rest of the dominoes,” Metras explained. “Persistence is certainly one of the key elements, and lining up an all-star team: an excellent attorney, an excellent engineer and a bullet-proof application.”
When the FCC finally granted the radio frequency, the team threw a party to celebrate.
“Really, it’s God’s radio station,” Metras said. “It seems like it has its own legs. We are motivated by the (Holy) Spirit in these things. There were many junctures where this could have gone completely sideways, and statistically, it should have.”
Metras presides over a group of volunteers that reports monthly to the Holy Rosary Board of Trustees and consists of Albrecht, Mapaye, and others. Several radio professionals have also supported the station’s efforts.
Anchorage Catholics who wish to help support the station may contact Holy Rosary Academy. An imminent need is to transform the second floor of the school into a radio studio. Donated funds will be applied to the needs of the station.
“We are always looking for donations and volunteers to help us with different aspects,” Metras said. “Finally, we are asking for continued prayerful support for the intentions of the station. Prayer has been instrumental in the twists and turns we’ve gone through. This radio business is a business, and it does require some savvy decision-making and dumb luck. Sometimes we get the right mix of both.”
A website has been established to keep future listeners apprised of the development of Catholic radio in Anchorage. For more information, go online to anchorageradio.wordpress.com.