BRAWLEY -Â Members from the community came together Sunday evening to celebrate the â€œgrand openingâ€ 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. Maryâ€™s Parish in El Centro at 6:45 p.m. for the â€œflip the switchâ€ 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 â€˜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 eveningâ€™s celebration to fruition. â€œI had been looking for something to do after retirement,â€ he said. â€œI was looking for meaning, and when the opportunity came to own a radio station, it sounded like the right thing to do.â€
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.
â€œFrom there, it was non-stop knocking on doors, giving the visionâ€ 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.
â€œOur end goal is to save lives,â€ said Caro. â€œNot in the physical sense, but in the spiritual sense.â€
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 Caroâ€™s number one helper with the station.
She commented, â€œSo often people without faith feel restless, or empty â€“ this station will touch their hearts.â€
â€œThese programs are good for everybody,â€ Lang added. â€œThey have programs for family problems, marriage counseling, praying, devotionals, Bible studies, and more.â€
â€œItâ€™s a great resource,â€ 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.
â€œOur goal is to eventually be self-sustaining,â€ Caro said. â€œBut most importantly, we want to be a catalyst for change in the Christian faith.â€
Caro has big plans for the station, including transitioning to live radio with local programming as well as covering local events that are â€œimportant to the Christian faith,â€ he said.
â€œWe will be able to essentially walk the streets and get a signal up,â€ Caro said.
Lang is surprised by the amount of support they have received Valley wide, she said. â€œThere are so many things you can donate to or give your support,â€ she said. â€œIâ€™m just amazed at the response weâ€™ve had for this.â€
â€œThere is a real hunger for this kind of thing in the Valley,â€ said Lang. â€œIâ€™m very excited.â€