BRAWLEY – Members from the community came together Sunday evening to celebrate the “grand opening” of the first ever Catholic radio station in the Imperial Valley – St. John Paul II Catholic Radio, KCJP FM 95.7.
Supporters gathered at St. Mary’s Parish in El Centro at 6:45 p.m. for the “flip the switch” celebration. The event featured guest speakers Kent Peters, radio host from Immaculate Heart Radio in San Diego, Patty Saracco Lang, Raul Caro, and Father Edward Horning.
This radio station, affectionately called JP2 by organizers, is now broadcasting ‘round the clock from El Centro to the Valley. The station currently broadcasts free programming from the Global Catholic Radio Station and Immaculate Heart Radio.
Caro was the brains behind this new venture; it was his vision and perseverance that brought Sunday evening’s celebration to fruition. “I had been looking for something to do after retirement,” he said. “I was looking for meaning, and when the opportunity came to own a radio station, it sounded like the right thing to do.”
Caro, a Valley native and former Border Patrol Agent for San Diego and the Imperial Valley, discovered a contest on the radio from Eternal Word Television Network, that awarded the winner radio station rights and ownership. In May of 2014, Caro won the contest.
“From there, it was non-stop knocking on doors, giving the vision” to keep his idea moving forward, Caro said.
Locally, organizers raised $130,000 in support to found the station, covering costs such as equipment purchases, purchasing fees, tower signals, and more.
The goal is to make the station known throughout the Valley, and to educate listeners about the Catholic faith, Caro said.
“Our end goal is to save lives,” said Caro. “Not in the physical sense, but in the spiritual sense.”
Patty Saracco Lang, a retired physician, former director of North County Coalition for the Arts, and well-known community volunteer, was brought back to the Catholic faith through a radio program, and now has been Caro’s number one helper with the station.
She commented, “So often people without faith feel restless, or empty – this station will touch their hearts.”
“These programs are good for everybody,” Lang added. “They have programs for family problems, marriage counseling, praying, devotionals, Bible studies, and more.”
“It’s a great resource,” she said.
Although the station is now up and running, help is still needed to place an antenna on a tower in the north end of Imperial Valley, Lang said.
Once there, JP2 will broadcast strongly throughout Brawley, reaching to Calipatria and hopefully even the Calipatria prisons, Caro said.
The station still needs around $60,000, which would allow them to purchase the necessary equipment, as well as have reserves for the next two years, said Caro.
Lang explained that the best way for this to happen would be through consistent monthly pledges from supporters.
“Our goal is to eventually be self-sustaining,” Caro said. “But most importantly, we want to be a catalyst for change in the Christian faith.”
Caro has big plans for the station, including transitioning to live radio with local programming as well as covering local events that are “important to the Christian faith,” he said.
“We will be able to essentially walk the streets and get a signal up,” Caro said.
Lang is surprised by the amount of support they have received Valley wide, she said. “There are so many things you can donate to or give your support,” she said. “I’m just amazed at the response we’ve had for this.”
“There is a real hunger for this kind of thing in the Valley,” said Lang. “I’m very excited.”