By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published June 7, 2018
ATLANTA—A new Catholic radio station is on the air, broadcasting the faith in a vast part of the Atlanta area.
The Quest—1160 AM—is now reaching people in their cars and is simulcast on the Internet.
“It’s a great way to spend Atlanta traffic. It makes traffic more bearable,” said Janice Givens, one of three women leading this effort.
The station converted its programming in April from a talk show format once it was leased by The Quest. There are now seven radio stations with Catholic programming in the Atlanta Archdiocese, with an additional two in the Diocese of Savannah.
The new station is the brainchild of Carol Tiarsmith, a business leader and member of St. Jude the Apostle Church, Sandy Springs. Prayer during the the past several months inspired her to pursue this ministry, she said.
“I believe God called us to do this. It happend with unbelievable speed,” said Tiarsmith.
She joined with Givens at the start of the year to begin the project. A radio station broker connected them with a owner interested in selling the station, leading to the signing of a lease. A station sale must be approved by the FCC before it is finalized.
Many of Atlanta’s Catholic stations are found on the FM dial and are affiliated with parishes. The Quest, an independent, non-commercial AM station, is live-streamed on the Internet. The 50,000 watt-station is owned by Atlanta Catholic Radio.
The audience for radio remains high, according to a Pew Research Center survey. In 2016, 91 percent of Americans ages 12 or older listened to radio in a given week, the survey reported.
The station during the daytime covers an area in metro Atlanta from Alpharetta in the north to Fayetteville in the south. The area where the coverage is possible, but spotty, is larger, from Dalton in the north to close to Macon. Supporters say the core area includes about 40 parishes.
Three women are behind Atlanta Catholic Radio. Tiarsmith is a veteran of the banking industry, having served as CFO of Atlantic Capital Bank. Givens was the first leader of the archdiocesan young adult ministry and began Go FISH Outreach, a ministry in Atlanta focused on serving Catholics who left the church. Amy Kluesner graduated from the University of Notre Dame law school and is an attorney at Alston & Bird LLP.
The station is relying on listeners to financially support the effort. Organizers expect to hold fund drives and offer other ways for listeners to contribute to the station. Meanwhile, they have started a $2.3 million campaign to pay for the station lease and its operational costs, with a goal to raise about half the money by June.
Tiarsmith said Catholic radio stations can shape listeners’ faith lives. Surveys have shown that listeners attend Mass more and give more money and service to the church, she said. “It makes listeners more engaged in the faith. They become more engaged to the parish, spiritually and on a volunteer basis,” said Tiarsmith.
The website states that the “station’s programming is rooted in the teachings of the Catholic Church, and engages listeners through diverse formats that include prayer, reflection and interactive talk shows and podcasts.”
The group hopes to link the Catholic podcasting community with the radio listeners. The goal would be to introduce radio listeners to the new podcast format, while exposing the podcast community to new listeners.
The station is affiliated with EWTN, Ave Maria Radio and Word on Fire.
For now, the 45 programs on the station are in English. About half the Catholic community in the Atlanta Archdiocese are Hispanic. Organizers said they are hope to expand programming to include other languages. They plan to use the radio to promote different cultural celebrations of ethnic groups and parishes.
To listen live or for a program schedule, go to https://thequestatlanta.com.