By Richard Meek

The Catholic Commentator 

On an unusually balmy December day when the mercury topped out at 75 and the Saints were putting the finishing touches on a 13-3 regular season that would culminate in a Super Bowl championship, Advent and Christmas music debuted the humble beginnings of Catholic Community Radio in Baton Rouge.  

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Michael Warsaw, chairman and chief executive officer of EWTN, presents an award to Catholic Community Radio president/general manager David Dawson. EWTN honored the station for its 10-year anniversary.  Photo provided by David Dawson | Catholic Community Radio  

 

Studios, fancy equipment and a devout audience would come later. Rather, on that first show, which was broadcast via a tiny MP3 player connected to transmitters of WPYR-AM, the soothing tones of local broadcaster Jeff Blackwell invited listeners to an anomaly of sorts: a station managed by Catholics for Catholics.  

Within a few weeks, Catholic Community Radio was able to connect a satellite uplink that brought the popular EWTN’s Catholic talk-radio format live to the station, and an idea that was launched on a toasty December day has been warming the hearts of Catholic listeners throughout south Louisiana for the past 10 years.  

Michael Warsaw, chairman and chief executive officer of EWTN, recently awarded president/general manager David Dawson an award for their 10 years of broadcasting. 

“The Blessed Mother’s intercession is credited with bringing this apostolate to birth in southeast Louisiana,” Dawson said. “Miraculously, volunteers with differing gifts and talents appeared right when there was a need. From studio space to on-air talent, production capabilities and financial assistance, the Holy Spirit continues to stir hearts into flame in this work of evangelization.”  

The vision of Dawson, Johnny Hebert and the late Mike Norwood of a Catholic radio station has blossomed from the Capital City to now include the entire New Orleans metropolitan area as well as southward to Houma.  

“The bishops of these three respective dioceses (dioceses of Baton Rouge and Houma-Thibodaux and the Archdiocese of New Orleans) have offered their continued spiritual support so that Jesus Christ and his Church might have a home on the radio dial in the Catholic culture of the Deep South,” Dawson said. 

Catholic Community Radio produces live and local programming each week covering radio, but also time-shifted audio and streaming platforms like Spotify, Google Music and Apple Podcasts. Father Chris Decker, spiritual director for Catholic Community Radio, utilizes his expansive acumen in technology to bring several of the flagship programs like the popular “WakeUp!” and “The Catholic Underground” onto television and video platforms.   

The station also began broadcasting “Overflow,” featuring nationally renowned recording artist Kara Klein Oubre and co-host Chris Price, formerly of WBRZ in Baton Rouge. The show, which uses social media to promote new programs and also has a website for podcasts and blogs, airs Fridays at 3 p.m. Catholic Community Radio broadcasts on three radio stations, WPYR, 1380 AM, WPYR-LPFM in Baton Rouge and WQNO, 690 AM in New Orleans.  

Catholic Community also has a new low-power station, 105.9 FM, that covers the eastern part of East Baton Rouge Parish from the Interstate 10/12 split to Juban Crossing in Denham Springs. A license has been granted for the other half of East Baton Rouge Parish, although donors are needed to purchase the equipment.