On Air

Local Catholic Spanish radio goes worldwide

by Joe Bollig

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The need has been apparent for a long time, and now Spanish- speaking Catholics have access to their own, local Spanish language radio.

Although it had a “quiet launch” in January, Radio Levantate Catolico made its formal debut with a blessing on June 19 by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann.
It would be incorrect, however, to say that Radio Levantate Catolico is “on the air” or even “broadcasting.”

Rather, it is an Internet radio station, live-streaming its programming 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It can be accessed through a home-based computer or various mobile devices through use of an app.

The station can be found online at: www.levantatecatolico.org.

“This is a great thing for our community,” said Father Kent O’Connor, pastor of Our Lady of Unity Parish in Kansas City, Kansas. “I’ve heard over and over about the need for a Spanish language radio station. Now, we can get it through Android or on an iPhone and listen in the car or while working. There are all kinds of ways to stream.”

Levantate Catolico means “Stand up, Catholics,” explained Jose Mejia, co-founder and station coordinator. And the founding of the station was the result of two things: the termination in 2012 of La X Super Estación, a program Mejia and others had been running for nine years, and the temporary assignment of Father Ciro Gonzalez, a diocesan priest from Colombia, to Our Lady of Unity Parish in Kansas City, Kan.

“It was the vision of Father Ciro Gonzalez, who was parochial vicar there for two years,” said Father O’Connor. “He went on vacation to Florida and came back inspired, saying, ‘We need a Spanish language radio station here as well.’”

When Father Gonzalez returned to his diocese in July 2013, oversight for the initiative was picked up by Father O’Connor. He, Hispanic ministry animator Father Livio Stella, CS, Mejia, and a committee of five people secured the funding, space and equipment for the station.

Funding came from a variety of sources, including the priests involved, Our Lady of Unity Parish, Hispanic ministries and the archdiocese.

The station uses two rooms in the basement of the rectory of Our Lady of Unity Parish. Its equipment consists of three computers, two microphones and a mixing board.

The station’s programming is primarily music, said Mejia.

“We also have soap operas from the life of Jesus, from Latin America, some reflections from a friend of mine in Mexico, and [my] reflections, for now,” said Mejia.

Internet radio is less expensive than conventional broadcast radio and literally has a worldwide reach. What this local/international capability means is now still undetermined.

“We’re still discovering what that means,” said Father O’Connor. “We have listeners from all over — Mexico, Cuba and Africa. I don’t know how they find us.”

Despite being grateful for its reach, however, Radio Levantate Catolico is focusing first on the Spanish-speaking population of the archdiocese.

“Part of our goal is to have a local flair,” said Father O’Connor.

For information or to make a contribution to the station, go online to: www.levantatecatolico.org, or call Mejia at (816) 824-6353.

About the author

Joe Bollig

Joe has been with The Leaven since 1993. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in journalism. Before entering print journalism he worked in commercial radio. He has worked for the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press and Sun Publications in Overland Park. During his journalistic career he has covered beats including police, fire, business, features, general assignment and religion. While at The Leaven he has been a writer, photographer and videographer. He has won or shared several Catholic Press Association awards, as well as Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara awards for mission coverage. He graduated with a certification in catechesis from a two-year distance learning program offered by the Maryvale Institute for Catechesis, Theology, Philosophy and Religious Education at Old Oscott, Great Barr, in Birmingham, England.

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