Huntsville Catholic Radio is an IRS 501(c)(3) nonprofit supported by donations from St. Thomas the Apostle parishioners. The station also annually applies for grants from Catholic foundations, and has been fortunate enough to receive a grant each year since it began operation 29 September 2003.
The KPIA 2012 Fund Drive is now in progress. Donor cards and envelopes are available in the entry of St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Huntsville.
The station downloads free programming from EWTN Global Catholic Radio via satellite round-the-clock. The station is maintained by volunteers, except for a local radio engineer on retainer. The station’s Board of Directors consists of five St. Thomas parishioners.
Marion Wagamon writes...
In 2001 a phone call from Starboard Broadcasting (now Relevant Radio) in Green Bay, Wisconsin, sought applicants for low-powered, community radio bands to be opened by the Federal Communications Commission. The caller explained that applicants must be local to the area where a station would be built and the deadline for applying was imminent.
My first reaction was that this call was a scam. However, as the caller continued to explain that calls were going out (50 in Texas alone) in order to seize this opportunity to spread Catholic radio across the country, I began to ask questions and get believable answers, like…
Q: “How did you get my name?”
A: “You subscribe to The National Catholic Register.”
He also advised the process was highly competitive and actually getting a station was very slim. Many, many others besides Catholics were clamoring for a local station. Realizing that he was asking only for permission to apply in my name NOT for any money nor any personal information, I finally consented…..and as soon as I hung up felt like a lunatic…what the heck did I know about radio, for goodness sake?
I didn’t dare mention my lunacy to a soul—not even my husband—and the whole thing soon slipped my mind. MId-August 2002, a letter arrived with FCC permission to build a station within the succeeding 18 months, after which I would be eligible to apply for licensing! “Oh, my! WHAT HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO?” was my first thought but the letter’s date—Feast of the Assumption—gave pause that maybe this was God giving me a nudge to budge!
My husband, a ham radio operator, didn’t take the news as badly as I feared. In fact, he dug into the frenzy of getting equipment, labor, and all the physical needs for building the station, while I formed a Board, secured IRS 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, arranged for EWTN free programming, applied to move the station from the FCC assigned, expensively prohibitive tower to our rent-free printing business, designed donor cards and bumper stickers to be printed, got Fr. Payne’s permission to call a parishwide meeting and to announce a fund drive at
all Masses in February 2003. Many of you parishioners were actively involved in all the above—too many to mention for fear of omissions.
I was absolutely certain that our signal would surely get on the airwaves on August 15, but Feast of Assumption came and went with volunteers still stomping around in wires and adjusting antenna and satellite dish to no effect. Frustration mounted until 7:30pm on September 29, 2003, finally…..WE WERE ON THE AIR! Wouldn’t you know Our Lady would defer to Archangel Gabriel, patron of communications, on the Feast of the Archangels!
Grateful for all your support!
It was due to two St. Thomas parishioners who originally got EWTN broadcasts in Huntsville--at first, on weeknights 10pm-6am only and weekends and then several years later, Barbara Riley and Marion Wagamon got 200 signatures on a petition to Cox Cable (later taken over by Sudden Link) to bring EWTN here 24/7. Catholics need to know EWTN is available here. You know, in the 1990s it was completely taken out of Houston.