The station, KBKO 88.3 FM, went on air in Kodiak with its 24-hour programming on June 24. It is hosted by St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Kodiak. The station broadcasts Sacred Heart Radio, a Washington-based programming station dedicated to providing Catholic broadcasting in the Pacific Northwest.
“We’re so very excited to be there,” said Ron Belter, founder of Sacred Heart Radio. “It’s a blessing to make it all happen and be a part of the Kodiak scene.”
The idea to bring Catholic radio to Alaska started with Father Joseph Classen, the priest at St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Classen was involved with radio when he lived in St. Louis, and he approached Anchorage Archbishop Roger Schweitz about bringing a Catholic radio station to Alaska.
“Radio is a powerful way to reach people when they are working or traveling, or if they can’t make it to mass,” Classen said. “It’s a way to meet people where they are at, and it’s an opportunity for people to stay connected to faith and the Lord even if they’re busy doing something else.”
The Archdiocese of Anchorage — which oversees all Catholic churches in southcentral Alaska, including Kodiak — wanted to bring the station to Anchorage, but had to switch to Kodiak after learning no Anchorage radio permits were available.
There were no major challenges with getting the station ready to broadcast, Belter said. He flew up to Kodiak in June and built the radio tower with several Kodiak volunteers in a little over a week.
While in Kodiak, he was able to speak at St. Mary’s about the new station.
“Two people in Kodiak came up to me and said the reason they were in church today was because they heard Catholic radio in another city,” Belter said. “It’s safe radio and friendly radio.”
The feedback has been positive in the Kodiak community, Classen said. “Most people seem to be enjoying it, both Catholic and non-Catholic,” he said.
Sacred Heart Radio has been on the air in Seattle for 12 years and in Spokane for seven years. Kodiak is the only location outside of Washington that receives the programming. Sacred Heart Radio is a nonprofit organization that survives from donations from listeners.
The programming station doesn’t sell air time to ensure it broadcasts exclusively Catholic messages. Sacred Heart Radio gets most of its content from EWTN Global Catholic Network, a broadcasting company that provides TV and radio programming and news from a Catholic perspective.
“Our message is the same,” Belter said. “We broadcast the Catholic message 24 hours a day.”
The station has different programs including an aired Mass, rosary, prayer devotions, talk shows and educational programming about the faith. The station may also feature local Kodiak programming in the future.
“There will be some local flair,” Belter said.
Classen is planning to incorporate his own radio show, “Hunting for God,” which discusses topics like fishing and hunting. He also plans to work with the St. Mary’s Catholic School to get youth involved.