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New Catholic radio station in San Francisco hits the airwaves; may be nation's largest

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SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (Catholic San Francisco) - KSFB-AM 1260 signed on Dec. 10 as Immaculate Heart Radio in the San Francisco Bay Area, the newest outlet in a prospering Catholic radio network and possibly the largest single Catholic radio station in the country.


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Highlights

By Tom Burke
Catholic San Francisco (www.catholic-sf.org)
1/9/2008 (1 decade ago)

Published in Diocese

KSFB, formerly KOIT, is the group's 20th station in a network founded 11 years ago in Reno by Doug Sherman.

"I'm excited and grateful that our 20th station is located in San Francisco," Sherman said in a press release. "We look forward to sending the Word of the Lord over the airways in order to reach as many souls as possible."

Support from area bishops

In a Dec. 12 letter to Sherman, San Francisco's Archbishop George Niederauer congratulated him and colleagues for getting the station onto the air after "a long, challenging struggle."

"I wish you many blessings and graces as you embark on this new service," wrote the archbishop, who heads the U.S. bishops' Communications Committee and is a member of the Pontifical Council on Social Communications.

Both Archbishop Niederauer and Oakland's Bishop Allen Vigneron endorse the mission of the radio outlet on an IHR promotional DVD.

"This project would not have succeeded without the hard work and support of many people, but there would be no station if it were not for the work of Mike Lambert and Father Andrew Johnson," Sherman told Catholic San Francisco.

An emotional 'cut-over'

A retired stockbroker, Lambert said he has been involved with Immaculate Heart Radio since its beginnings and has helped Sherman with development of the current San Francisco-based operation. Father Johnson is a retired attorney and investment banker ordained in 2004 for the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Both Lambert and the priest are Knights of Malta.

"You must know how emotional the cut-over was," Lambert said in a conversation with Catholic San Francisco. "After six years of going down blind alleys, it seemed this would never happen. All the years of trying were very good for us. The Holy Spirit guided us around those hazards. When that signal cut-over we were jumping up and down and hooting and hollering."

More than a dozen persons attended the Dec. 10 event marking the transition from KOIT to KSFB, Lambert said, including Bill McInerney and Dennis Kelly, attorneys who worked on the project; Mark Bromley and Eva Muntean of Ignatius Press; George Keisel and Charlotte Keisel, both long time supporters of Catholic radio.

Even though on the air only a short time, "We have had some very touching feedback from listeners," Lambert said, adding, "My understanding is that KSFB is the largest Catholic radio station in the U.S. and the largest English language Catholic station in the world."

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KSFB officials estimate the broadcast facility's signal can reach nine million, nearly doubling the IHR network's potential audience.

Generous donors help change lives

The price tag for KOIT-AM, formerly owned by Bonneville Radio (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) was $14 million with a total project cost of $15 million. To date, $11 million has been pledged toward the work. "The donors were mostly people known to IHR or individuals helping with the fundraising," Lambert said. "We hope the remaining $4 million comes in soon. I think it will be easier to raise money now that people can actually hear the station. Before it was all intangibles but now it is there -- 24/7. Anybody with money they're not using should let us know and we'll take it off their hands for a very good cause," Lambert said with a laugh.

"The Church exists to help people save their immortal soul," Father Johnson said in a statement printed in the Dec. 16 bulletin of St. Thomas More Church in San Francisco where he is stationed. Considered the station's chaplain, he added, "IHR helps to do this in a big way. Many lives have already been changed for the better as a result of listening to IHR."

Father Johnson, assisted by two Legionaries of Christ priests from San Jose, led the Dec. 10 blessing ceremony for the new broadcast operation.

The network's website, www.ihradio.org, carries broadcast schedules. KFSB-AM 1260 airs 24 hours a day and programming includes a daily Mass and rosary as well as talk and information from Eternal Word Radio Network.

Father Frank Pavone, national director for Priests for Life and heard regularly on EWTN and Immaculate Heart Radio, will be the featured speaker Jan. 18 at 7:30 p.m. for the annual Interfaith Memorial Service for Victims of Abortion at St. Mary's Cathedral, Gough St. and Geary Blvd. in San Francisco. The evening is sponsored by the Interfaith Committee for Life.

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This story was made available to Catholic Online by permission of Catholic San Francisco (www.catholic-sf.org),official newspaper of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, Calif.

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