KQSH celebrates a year spreading Gospel across Kansas airwaves
By DAVID MYERS
Southwest Kansas Register
Chances are, if you spent any time on the road between Meade and Jetmore (to the south and north), or Ingalls and Kinsley (to the west and east), you’ve happened upon a radio station that sounded both familiar and familial.
That’s because KQSH, 90.7 FM is a Catholic radio station run entirely by volunteers intent on spreading the good word as far and wide as its airwaves will permit. While it doesn’t reach all of the diocese, its reach is pretty impressive considering it’s a relatively small operation run entirely by volunteers.
The station, which operates out of an office at Sacred Heart Cathedral School in Dodge City, recently celebrated its one year anniversary. Chad Meitner, principal at Sacred Heart, is a member of the board of directors and serves as station manager. “We started off with 100 percent satellite feed from EWTN,” Meitner explained. “We slowly started adding local content. We started off small. We were all volunteer laymen, so it was a learning process. We started off with announcements, station ID and prayers. Bishop Brungardt leads the rosary, and students from the school lead prayers.”
Operations Manager Joe Gleason, Chairman of the Board Steve Hessman, and Father Ted Skalsky, among others, started the first station more than a decade ago, which was designed to provide half English and half Spanish content. Meitner said that Father Skalsky’s goal had long been to get another station running, allowing full time Spanish on one station (102.1 LP ((low power)) FM), and full time English on another.
On a recent Saturday morning, Hessman (who also gives the Farm Report on public radio), recorded Sophia Mondragon and then Meitner reciting PSAs (public service announcements).
“I love Sacred Heart,” Meitner starts out, his voice filtering through a small, round cloth screen set before a large microphone. Hessman sits nearby at a computer console, watching Meitner’s words draw lines across the screen as if the computer were measuring the beats of a heart.
Once both are happy with the 40-second recording, Hessman adds carefully chosen music to the background, adjusting and readjusting so it doesn’t drown out Meitner’s voice. According to Hessman, the station is allowed approximately two-and-a-half minutes of PSA time per hour of EWTN programming. Local programming includes a Thursday night Rosary for Vocations, as well as a Mass for shut-ins, which is broadcast each Monday after being recorded at the 9 a.m. Mass the previous Sunday at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Dodge City. Father Wesley Schawe records his column, and Bishop John Brungardt, and other local Catholics, have recorded the Rosary.
“The station is not owned by the Catholic Church,” Hessman explained. This is due primarily to an FCC rule which dictates that the Catholic diocese can only own one non-commercial license. Because the cathedral, an entity of the Diocese of Dodge City, owns the Spanish radio station, FCC rules required that Hessman form the new station as a stand alone corporation (Sacred Heart Radio Corporation).
Once Hessman records the PSAs, they’re delivered to Joe Gleason, who is instrumental in keeping KQSH on the ground and in the air. In this case, he uses his computer skills to slip the PSAs into their proper slot.
Hessman thanked both Bishop Emeritus Ronald Gilmore and Bishop Brungardt for their support in getting both stations on the air. Hessman struggled to call to mind the many people, including Dennis Scheck, Duane Tasset, Deanna Jones, Melanie Harshburger, Gleason and many others, who have offered their time and talent to get the station up and running.
“We’re all called by our baptism to evangelize,” Hessman said. “I’m not one to go out and preach on the street corner. Instead of putting my money where my mouth is, I am putting my money where my mouth isn’t. I am evangelizing over the airwaves.”
If you would like to provide a financial donation to the station, send to: KQSH, Sacred Heart Radio, P.O. Box 682, Dodge City, KS 67801.