St. Gabriel radio buys Portsmouth station to expand Catholic teachings

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More Ohioans soon will be able to tune into the holy sounds and programming of St. Gabriel Catholic Radio.

The station, which has been on the frequency 820 AM since 2011, has served central Ohio since 2005 and has long wanted to reach the radio dials of all parishioners in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus, said Bill Messerly, the station’s executive director.

St. Gabriel’s purchase of a station in Portsmouth, in Scioto County, on 88.3 FM, for $175,000 will allow it to reach that goal by expanding coverage into the southernmost portion of the diocese, he said. 

The new Portsmouth station is slated to go live in January and will allow St. Gabriel to reach people in all 23 counties served by the diocese. The new station’s reach includes 150,000 people in 11 parishes in New Boston, Portsmouth and Wheelersburg, Messerly said. It includes all of Scioto County, the southern half of Pike County, and about one third of both Adams and Ashland counties.

St. Gabriel’s current station reaches more than four million people during the day and about a million and a half in the evenings, when the signal powers down.

“The impetus was, of course, to make available good Catholic teachings,” Messerly said. “To allow our diocese to hear our bishop.”

The station is not owned or operated by the Diocese of Columbus but is instead a nonprofit “lay apostolate” group that serves those living within the diocese, he said.

It has 12 locally produced programs, including one featuring Columbus Bishop Frederick Campbell, and is an affiliate of the Eternal Word TV Network, a global Catholic television and radio network. Though the content will be mostly the same, the station breaks will be unique to Portsmouth, with local prayers and news, Messerly said. The Portsmouth station now plays Christian music.

“We’re all called to reflect Jesus Christ and we would turn that to be holy, to be the best version of ourselves,” he said. “I would encourage those who want to grow in their Catholic faith to listen.”

The local diocese said the station provides a useful, important service to parishioners.

“It provides … informational and instructional programming that allows listeners to grow and develop a deeper understanding of their faith, connecting with them whenever they have the opportunity to do so,” said George Jones, diocesan spokesman, in a written statement.

Dan Miller, 50, of the Far West Side, has been a listener for several years and enjoys tuning into St. Gabriel Radio on his commute to work Downtown.

“You should always go to Mass at least once a week,” said Miller, a parishioner at St. Cecilia Parish in the Far West Side. “But it’s a great supplement through the week. You don’t only get inspired, you get enthused. It’s the direct words of Christ.”

He added that “in these busy days, it’s a great way to center yourself.”

As for what’s next for the station, Messerly said that more expansion isn’t out of the question.

“The mission of St. Gabriel is to reach more souls with good, faithful Catholic teachings,” he said. “That means we’re probably never done. We’ve always been interested in reaching more people.”

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@DanaeKing