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Published: Saturday, 2/2/2008

Annunciation Radio signs on briefly tomorrow, via WTOD-AM

BLADE RELIGION EDITOR

A Toledo Catholic radio station will make its debut tomorrow. But it will be a limited engagement for Annunciation Radio, which is leasing two hours of airtime on WTOD-AM (1560).

"It's a baby step," said Deacon Michael Learned, president of the station's board of directors. "But it's a big baby step."

Annunciation's long-term goal is to broadcast on its own radio signal 24 hours a day, seven days a week - a goal that may not be too far off, Mr. Learned said.

"We have reason to believe that we will be on the air with our own station by the end of the year," he said. "But we can't make any promises."

While the deals and details are still to be determined, Annunciation's board decided not to remain silent in the meantime. The station will be paying for the two-hour time slot, from noon to 2 p.m., every Sunday on WTOD.

"We're very, very excited about that," Mr. Learned said. "We're really charged up."

The broadcasts will feature a mix of syndicated programming, mostly from Ave Maria Radio in Ann Arbor, along with "a little taste" of local programming, he said.

There will be homilies by area priests and deacons, a calendar of events, and the Rev. Michael Dandurand will provide a look ahead at the "Saints of the Week."

Tomorrow, the homily will be delivered by the Rev. Charles Singler, pastor of Rosary Cathedral Parish and director of worship for the Toledo Catholic Diocese.

Bishop Leonard Blair will be the homilist on Feb. 10, Mr. Learned said.

Annunciation will likely offer devotions and Catholic music programs, based on suggestions made by the public.

"We're working toward expanding our local programming, but for now it will be little vignettes, 90 seconds to three minutes long. It's not real expansive," Mr. Learned said.

The cost of starting a Catholic radio station can range from $10,000 for a low-power FM signal in some areas of the country to as much as $15 million in major cities, experts say.

Annunciation Radio estimates that its start-up costs will be between $750,000 and $1 million, and the nonprofit station is counting on local Catholics to help meet that need, Mr. Learned said.

"People are responding wonderfully to this, but we're not rolling in the money," he said. "We have to pay for our time on the station and we need to build a cache so we'll have money to build our own station. We need all the help we can get." Annunciation is planning an informational and fund-raising banquet on April 25, he added.

More information is available online at www.annunciationradio.com or by calling 419-754-1009.



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