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Catholic station clears 2 hurdles; WNOC expected to be on air in fall

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Learned

The Blade/Lori King
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Toledo's first Catholic radio station has cleared two major hurdles to begin broadcasting on its own.

Deacon Michael Learned, president of Annunciation Radio, announced that the Federal Communications Commission has granted the station a construction permit and assigned it the broadcast frequency of 89.7 FM. It will use the call letters WNOC, standing for "Northwest Ohio Catholic."

Its 3.8-kilowatt signal should reach north to the Michigan line, west to Swanton, east to Fostoria, and south to Portage, Ohio, reaching a potential audience of 130,836 Catholics.

"Our goal is to bring Catholic radio to everyone in the Toledo diocese, all 19 counties," Mr. Learned said. "We want to bring the Catholic faith to people in a fresh and upbeat way, and once they hear it, we'll leave it up to the Holy Spirit."

The station got its start in 2006 when Mr. Learned, an ordained deacon in the Toledo Catholic Diocese, sold his medical-equipment repair business and began looking at ways to start a local Catholic station.

Annunciation Radio went on the air for the first time on Feb. 3, 2008, by leasing airtime on WTOD-AM (1560). It has been broadcasting from noon to 2 p.m. on Sundays in what Mr. Learned called a "baby step."

Now the station is getting ready to step out on its own. The last major hurdle is to raise the necessary finances.

"Our board members were just talking about how much has gone right for us. We were marveling at it all," Mr. Learned said. "The only thing we're lacking so far is money.

But I told them God hasn't gotten us this far to let us fail. Let's persevere in prayer."

The estimated costs have dropped substantially since the initial planning stages. At first, Mr. Learned said, Annunciation assumed it would need to buy an existing station.

The startup cost was estimated at $750,000 to $1 million.

But the FCC expedited the application for a new license because there were no competing interests, he said. That cut the costs to between $200,000 and $300,000. The lower figure is to rent space on an existing broadcast tower; the higher one would allow Annunciation to build its own tower.

The station plans to be on the air sometime this fall.

Mr. Learned announced the FCC rulings and the call letters at a "Friend-Raiser" banquet Thursday night at Central Park West. Al Kresta, host of Kresta in the Afternoon, one of the syndicated programs carried by Annunciation, was the banquet's guest speaker.

Contact David Yonke at:

dyonke@theblade.com

or 419-724-6154.

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