Expanding Catholic radio to host Sept. 22 brunch

By Peter Finney Jr., Clarion Herald

Catholic Community Radio, which operates 690-AM WQNO in the Archdiocese of New Orleans and also provides Catholic radio programming to the dioceses of Baton Rouge and Houma-Thibodaux, will present its second annual Jam & Jazz Chef’s Brunch with chefs John Folse and Leah Chase Sept. 22 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the NOPSI Hotel, 317 Baronne St., New Orleans.

David Dawson, president and general manager of Catholic Community Radio (CCR), said the radio apostolate in south Louisiana, which relies on listeners’ financial support for its operations, has grown steadily every year since its launch in 2009 in Baton Rouge with 1380-AM WPYR.

CCR expanded to New Orleans in 2011 with 690-AM and then strengthened its signal this year in the Baton Rouge-Denham Springs area with the addition of a low-power FM station, 105.9 WPYR.

CCR also has been granted a license for an FM “translator,” which will strengthen its FM signal from Port Allen to the I-10/I-12 split in Baton Rouge using the 105.1 frequency, Dawson said.

“When God wants it, he works it out,” Dawson said, referring to the radio apostolate’s steady growth.

Adds low-power FM station

The Federal Communications Commission license for the low-power FM station belongs to The Sister Dulce Foundation, which is allowing CCR to make use of the license, Dawson said.

When the low-power signal was being tested for several weeks before it officially came on the air in March, the station played Gregorian chants. Then, when it switched over to the regular CCR programming, which includes local programs as well as programming from EWTN Radio, Dawson jokingly said he “got a few complaints because the music was so peaceful.”

“One guy called us and said, ‘I’m sitting in a traffic jam. Can y’all put that music back on?’” Dawson said.

The listener’s reaction might prompt the station to play more chant music in the future, Dawson said.   

690-AM WQNO – “ The Queen of New Orleans,” Dawson said – is a 10,000-watt station which has enough power during the day to spread the Catholic message as far east as the Florida panhandle.

“I got a call from a listener in Panama City and she held the phone up to the radio and the sound was as clear as a bell,” Dawson said.

In New Orleans, 690-AM has an important outreach to Hispanic Catholics with two shows hosted each week by Spanish-speaking priests. Dominican Father Sergio Serrano hosts a 30-minute show at 10 a.m. on Saturday, “Tiempo Ordinario” (Ordinary Time), reflecting on the upcoming Sunday Gospel reading. Father Pedro Nunez’s hosts “A Solas Con Jesús” (Alone with Jesus) Tuesdays from 7 to 8 p.m.

“Archbishop (Gregory) Aymond was very excited and thought that was a wonderful idea,” Dawson said.

690-AM broadcasts the 12:05 p.m. daily Mass from St. Louis Cathedral.

The Sept. 22 brunch will begin with mimosas at 9 a.m. Individual reservations are  $125 and a table of 10 is $1,000. To reserve online, go to https://us.commitchange.com/nonprofits/3693/events/1524.

Peter Finney Jr. can be reached at pfinney@clarionherald.org.

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