Archbishop William E. Lori marked the first anniversary of radio station WVTO 92.7 LP-FM by celebrating Mass at St. Benedict Parish, and blessing the radio studio on the second floor of the parish center July 29.
The parish-based station went on the air in July 2017, originally only on the air 2-10 a.m., sharing the frequency at that time with two other nonprofits, which were not yet broadcasting. Those other outlets eventually dropped out, and the Federal Communications Commission awarded WVTO the full 24-hour license.
The station broadcasts content from Relevant Radio, a national Catholic radio network, interspersed with local station identifications. WVTO plans in the future to broadcast some local content from its studio at the parish.
In the meantime, the station took a big leap earlier in July when it began broadcasting from a downtown building, strengthening the signal in central Baltimore and expanding its reach to Dundalk and Edgemere on the east and the area around Johns Hopkins University on the north.
Benedictine Father Paschal A. Morlino, pastor of St. Benedict, said the station’s signal is transmitted by microwave from the parish to a taller building downtown.
In his homily, Archbishop Lori noted the parish’s 125th anniversary year, underway. Reflecting on the day’s readings – the Old Testament story of Elisha feeding 100 people with just 20 loaves, and the Gospel account of Jesus feeding 5,000 with five loaves and two fish – he said, “Scripture shows us how God does a lot with only a little.”
He said, “For 125 years, St. Benedict Parish, your parish, has been doing a lot with a little. … Over the years, much has changed in our city, in this neighborhood and in this parish; but one thing remains the same: the St. Benedict’s ‘multiplier effect’ is still at work.”
The archbishop said that effect is evident in the “nearly miraculous” multiplication of turkeys and gifts for the needy at Christmas time. “I thank you because you are not merely multiplying turkeys and Christmas gifts; you are multiplying faith and joy and a sense of dignity and friendship in the neighborhoods you serve and far beyond,” he said.
Referring to WVTO, Archbishop Lori said, “On a shoestring, with few resources, Fr. Paschal has managed to open and operate a radio station, WVTO, that spreads the Good News far and wide, among believers, non-believers, the disconnected, and those who are searching.”
He added, “God’s grace and goodness enables us to do a lot with a little, or better, to offer God what little that we have, confident that he will use it to multiply his blessings.”
The answer to that, he said, lies in the mystery of the Eucharist, in which the priest offers a little bread and a little wine to become the true body and blood of Jesus Christ.
“Thus Christ is multiplied in us and among us. … This is where we get the strength, the wherewithal to be the Lord’s instruments in multiplying his blessings amongst ourselves and amongst our neighbors.”
After the Mass, the archbishop was joined by members of the parish, Father Morlino and WVTO station manager Cody Barber for a prayer of blessing in the radio studio. “Is it OK to get water on the radio equipment,” the archbishop quipped as he blessed the broadcast scheduling computer, microphones and the crowd gathered in the small space.
Another parish-based, low-power station, WSJF, launched June 3, broadcasting from St. Joseph Parish in Sykesville-Eldersburg. The station also broadcasts on the 92.7 LP-FM frequency, but the signal coverage from WVTO and WSJF do not overlap.
WSJF is also a Relevant Radio affiliate.
Disclosure: Gunty is associate publisher/editor of Catholic Review Media, and a volunteer board member of WVTO. Email him at editor@CatholicReview.org.