By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
FAIRFIELD — Catholic radio will soon fill the airwaves in the Fairfield area.
“Catholic radio will be a voice for truth and light in the darkness in our time,” said Mary LaFrancis, a member of St. Mary Parish in Fairfield who has worked primarily on her own for the past 10 years to bring the Catholic radio station to the Fairfield area.
The station — Holy Family Radio (KHFR) 103.5 — is set to begin offering rebroadcast EWTN programming within a 15-mile radius of Fairfield in the coming months.
LaFrancis, a retired nurse, first came into contact with Catholic radio while driving to Florida more than a decade ago to petition for pro-life causes related to the Terri Schiavo case. Contemplating the possibility for Catholic radio to be a source of inspiration and evangelization, “I really caught the fever for Catholic radio!” she recalled.
While local Catholic radio was available to surrounding communities, none of the frequencies reached Fairfield, she said.
She got in touch with representatives at EWTN and the Catholic Radio Association (CRA), who helped guide her through the technical and legal aspect of developing a station. The CRA offered LaFrancis a reduced rate on attorney fees — which she paid herself — as she navigated the process of working with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to obtain a local radio frequency.
Obtaining the frequency took time. Protocol requires interested entities to apply for a limited number of frequencies, and the would-be Catholic station was passed over two or three times before being offered a joint frequency with a local transcendental meditation-affiliated entity. LaFrancis turned it down, on the basis of conflicting beliefs and values.
In 2012, LaFrancis received word that she had been awarded a permit for the low-frequency FM station, 103.5, and she joyfully accepted. Fellow St. Mary parishioners Tim and Jean Hart became partners, and together they enlisted the help of a Catholic radio engineer, Jim Enger, to provide counsel and expertise regarding the equipment needed to rebroadcast EWTN 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
LeFrancis and other individuals supporting the station received $30,000 in loans to pay for equipment and other fees associated with starting the station. The station will not be allowed to accept advertisers, but LaFrancis said they will seek donors and supporters to help pay off the loan and keep the radio station going long-term. Additionally, she hopes to get local Catholics involved in original programming, but for now, she waits for the installation of the equipment and the first broadcast.
“We are finally taking our little place, have come this far in owr journey. I can just hardly wait for that moment that we turn the switch and then it’ll be happening for us,” she said.
LaFrancis’ parish pastor, Father Nick Adam, said he “commends her for her time consuming effort to do this project.”
Accessing Catholic radio in the diocese
Burlington: KCDM-FM 98.3
Clinton: 92.5 FM KXJX-LP
Davenport: 102.7 FM KTJT-LP
Des Moines: (broadcasts in Western part of the Diocese): KWKY-AM 1150 and 94.5 FM
DeWitt: 92.5 FM KGYS-LP
Fort Madison: KDME-FM 99.9
Iowa City: KOUR-FM 92.7
Muscatine: KTDC-FM 105.3
Stream Relevant Radio online at www.relevantradio.com or EWTN at www.ewtn.com.
Sirius XM radio has a Catholic channel on station 129.