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Published: Saturday, 5/29/2010

Toledo diocese goes on air


LEIPSIC, Ohio — In a field next to a white farmhouse just west of this Putnam County village, a nearly 200-foot radio tower lies in pieces, waiting for the ground to dry out so that a crane can raise it into place.

Once the tower is erected, what's expected to be the first Catholic radio station in the Diocese of Toledo should be on the air.

Holy Family Radio, with the broadcast frequency 88.9 FM, has the call letters WJTA, for “Jesus The Answer,” Jim Lammers, assistant director, said. The nonprofit station plans to broadcast Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) programming and work in local announcements and live broadcasts of Masses from parishes in the listening area.

While Holy Family Radio may be the first Catholic radio station in the diocese, it won't be alone for long.

Toledo-based Annunciation Radio is expected to go on the air later this summer, Deacon Michael Learned, president, said. Annunciation Radio plans a second station in Sandusky by the year's end.

“By the end of the year we'll have all of the north coast covered with Catholic radio, and, with the Dieterings' help, we'll be down in that area too,” Mr. Learned said.

Tom and Mary Ann Dietering are the impetus behind Holy Family Radio in Leipsic, a village of 2,236 people 55 miles south of Toledo.

Mr. Dietering said a decade or so ago he heard a “bleed-over” of EWTN Radio. He liked what he heard. “We started going to meetings of Catholic Radio in Birmingham,” the retired landscape firm owner said. “We checked around here to try to find a radio station for sale, but they were more than we could afford.”

He and his wife decided to front the money for a station — a process that began moving in September when they received the permit to build from the Federal Communications Commission. The studio is in a converted trailer that will be on their farm. The total project is expected to cost slightly more than $103,000.

Mr. Dietering said he hopes the programming will strike a chord with area Catholics — and others. “I feel that EWTN especially pretty well tells it the way it is, tells the teachings of the church,” he said. “I hope they will listen and start really appreciating it.”

Mr. Lammers said Putnam County's 11 Catholic parishes has expressed an interest in Holy Family Radio. “They felt there was a need, and they were willing to help both financially and as volunteers,” he said.

Mr. Lammers said the 2-kilowatt signal could reach as far north as Napoleon, south to Lima, west to Van Wert, and east nearly to Findlay. A celebration is set for 4 p.m. Aug. 1 at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Ottawa.

In Toledo, Mr. Learned said Annunciation Radio 89.7 FM is expected to reach listeners as far west as Swanton, north to the Michigan line, east to Bono, and south to Bowling Green and Portage. He said the station will announce its start date at a launch party at 6 p.m. June 5 at the Maumee Indoor Theater.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at:jfeehan@theblade.comor 419-724-6129.

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