Tuesday, April 15 - Wednesday, April 16 - Thursday, April 17
Friday, April 18 - Saturday, April 19 - Sunday, April 20

NEW YORK (CNS) -- The Catholic Channel of Sirius Satellite Radio may be a new kid on the block in the world of Catholic media, but it is taking a grown-up approach to covering Pope Benedict XVI's April 15-20 visit to the United States.

The channel, a joint effort of Sirius and the Archdiocese of New York, plans to provide listeners with uninterrupted live coverage of the pope's appearances at liturgies and other major events in Washington and New York. Masses at Yankee Stadium in New York and Nationals Stadium in Washington will be broadcast live.

Sirius plans to add two channels for the trip: one that will repeat full coverage of the day's events on a looping schedule, and another that will offer historic speeches and other archival material from previous papal visits to the United States.

"Everyone is having a lot of fun getting ready," said Joe Zwilling, archdiocesan director of communications and general manager of the Catholic Channel.

"It's a new approach to covering a pope," he told Catholic New York, the archdiocesan newspaper. "We've never had an outlet like this, to enable us to do all these things."

Rob Astorino, station manager and program director, said: "We're well-prepared and excited. We can't wait for the trip to begin."

Astorino noted that each of the station's program hosts would be assigned to one or more of the major papal venues in either Washington or New York. When describing the tone that the Catholic Channel would seek to bring to its coverage of the visit, he used words like comprehensive, respectful and interesting.

"People will get a sense of being at an event even if they are in their car," he said.

He said the papal trip would give the Catholic Channel a chance to spotlight itself.

"This is like our Super Bowl," he said.

Lino Rulli, host of an afternoon program called "The Catholic Guy," aimed at younger listeners, said he hopes to reveal to his audience who Pope Benedict XVI is as a man. He plans to do this through use of stories collected, at least in part, during the year he lived in Rome and his frequent travels there.

Offering the pope's own life as an example, he said, "Who could have guessed that the culmination of his life would take place at age 78 (when he was elected pope)? God has some plan for us. That's a life story right there."

Another Catholic Channel host, Father Paul Keenan, was in Central Park in October 1995 when Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass for more than 100,000 people. Back then, he was assistant director of the archdiocesan Office of Communications.

"The spirit on the Great Lawn and the park was magnetic," Father Keenan recently recalled in an interview.

For the visit of Pope Benedict, Father Keenan will be pulling triple duty.

Along with hosting his regular nightly show, "As You Think," April 14-17, the New York archdiocesan priest will anchor the channel's broadcast of the papal Mass from St. Patrick's Cathedral April 19 and share commentator duties at the Mass in Yankee Stadium April 20 with Resurrection Sister Marie Pappas, archdiocesan superintendent of schools and another program host. Father Keenan also be doing voice work for the papal archives channel.

The trick to announcing a Mass on the radio, papal or otherwise, is knowing how to say enough but not too much, he said.

"You want people who are listening to feel that they are there," Father Keenan said. "They want to hear the Mass. You're there to help them to see the things they can't see."

The Catholic Channel, Sirius 159, is a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week operation that began broadcasting in December 2006.


Copyright (c) 2007 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops



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