History of Catholic Radio
The very first commercial radio station, KDKA in Pittsburgh, went on the air in 1920. The first Catholic stations went on the air in 1925 in Canton, OH; New York City; Yakima, Washington and East St. Louis. All lasted only a few years. There were almost no Catholic stations for the next 60 years. In the late 1990s there were only 7 Catholic stations in the U.S. Since then, the number has grown to over 200. This is wonderful growth, but when you consider that there are over 16,000 AM and FM station in this country and over 1500 are religious stations of one sort or another, Catholic radio still has lots of room to grow.
In 1999, after attending a retreat, Bob Teipen felt inspired and challenged to bring a Catholic radio station to central Indiana. Bob and his wife Sharon explored every possibility. They formed a small not for profit corporation to explore the possibilities. They named the corporation Inter Mirifica Incorporated after a Vatican II Document which encouraged Catholics worldwide to use radio and TV and other electronic means to spread the Gospel.
Putting a new station on the air requires approval from the Federal Communications Commission who told the Teipens that there were absolutely no new frequencies available in the area on which to put a new station. They explored purchasing an existing station and found that even older AM stations with limited night-time coverage cost well into the millions of dollars. The price of FM stations with good signals in Indianapolis ranged into tens of millions of dollars. In 2003, they came into contact with Hoosier Broadcasting Corporation which was building a new FM station at 89.1 on the dial in Cloverdale (west of Indianapolis). HBC agreed to lease this new station to them for $20,000 per month and Catholic Radio Indy was born on Ash Wednesday, 2004.
The lease was later re-negotiated into a Lease/Purchase arrangement. If Catholic Radio Indy can continue to make that sizable payment every month, they will own the station outright by sometime around 2014. The lease/purchase payments amounted to approximately $2,400,000.
In 2007, the FCC opened a window that allowed local non-profit groups to try to find a frequency that could be squeezed into the already crowded FM band and then apply for a license to build a station on that frequency. Catholic Radio Indy identified 90.9 as a channel that could be used in nearby Noblesville, Indiana. Six other groups also applied for that same frequency. In the fall of 2010, the FCC awarded the license to Catholic Radio. It signed on the air in October of 2011. Its first regular program was a Mass broadcast live from the station’s tower site celebrated by Bishop Timothy Doherty of the Diocese of Lafayette in Indiana. The tower site is in that diocese.