Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Light One Candle
Broadcasting today: observations, and a bright spot on the radio dial

by Dennis Heaney

(From the Feb. 8, 2007 edition of the Inland Register)

Dennis Heaney At a recent forum on religion and broadcasting, Bishop Joseph Galante of Camden, N.J., spoke for a lot of us when he said that viewers and listeners “get fed a steady diet of reality programs and dreck. We have so dumbed-down our culture that we have a deadening spirit. What we see in no way contributes to the dignity of the human being.”

The forum, organized by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, brought together representatives from major religious groups to meet with two commissioners from the Federal Communications Commission. Bishop Galante and the other speakers told the commissioners that the current state of broadcasting seems to be driven more by economic forces that by any desire for quality.

In reading about the meeting I recalled that a year or so ago people were talking about a weekly television drama that was winning kudos because it had an outstanding ensemble cast. I tried watching it once and stayed with if for less than a half-hour. I was so put off by the focus on sexual situations and innuendo that I turned it off. I had seen nothing resembling a quality storyline.

Many of us grew up in a television era that had some rather humorous boundaries on what could be shown – a married couple could only be pictured in twin beds – but seldom would viewers be uncomfortable or embarrassed by what they were watching. That’s not the case today.

As Bishop Galante told the FCC commissioners, “What we have today is a value which has no value. It has coarsened our sensibilities.” He’s right. Our public airwaves are polluted and, shame on us, we tolerate it. But, the fact is, we can do something. I’ve said it before: each of us has the ability to write letters to local television outlets, to networks and even the Federal Communications Commission about broadcast programming we feel is offensive. We can also write to sponsors. When it affects their bottom line, they listen to us.

However, just as we criticize the bad we should also seek out and compliment the good. Recently, the Archdiocese of New York launched The Catholic Channel on Sirius Satellite Radio. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week the Catholic Channel (159 on Sirius) presents current events, politics, entertainment, the arts and sports – from a Catholic perspective. The Christophers are excited to be a part of this new radio channel on Sunday mornings at 7 a.m. EST with Christopher Closeup, our half-hour interview show. Each week we talk to people – both famous and not-so-famous – who are building tomorrow’s world today. Our topics cover a wide range of subjects including family life, health, entertainment and government. Christopher Closeup is also carried on local radio stations throughout the United States.

The Catholic Channel daily broadcasts include an afternoon show featuring a recent Christopher Closeup guest, Lino Rulli, with his humorous, off-beat, look at life. In the evening, Paulist Father Dave Dwyer focuses on young adults with Busted Halo. The channel also carries Notre Dame sports.

Sirius Satellite Radio is a subscription service (basic service costs $12.95 a month) and requires a special receiver, now included in many new cars. I also admit that Sirius has some programming choices that are less than desirable. Still, it carries entertainment, news and religion shows worth your time and attention.

Whether on radio, television or movies, make an effort to choose quality for yourself and your family.

(Dennis Heaney is Director of The Christophers, an organization dedicated to the proposition that it is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness. For a free copy of the Christopher News Note “And Now a Word from Our Audience – On Television Today,” write: The Christophers, 12 E. 48th St., New York, NY 10017; or e-mail:

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