Two Oklahoma City metro-area men working to develop a Catholic broadcasting network across the state are firm believers in miracles.
Larry Sousa and Jeff Finnell founded the Oklahoma Catholic Broadcasting Network in 2006 with a dream of opening a radio station in Oklahoma.
The two recently said they are overjoyed with a bounty of several stations transmitting Catholic programming to much of Oklahoma.
Sousa, of Norman, and Finnell, of Edmond, said the network's progress couldn't have come without the Lord and many generous Catholics across the state.
“Strange things happen, but they are happening for a reason,” Sousa said, smiling.
“Our mission is to cover the state of Oklahoma with quality Catholic programs,” Finnell said.
The two men said they met in 2005 and planned to do a radio show together, but the show was nixed through no fault of their own. Sousa said he was heartened when Finnell said they should try to get their own station started.
With little funding, they set out to do just that.
They said they formed their broadcasting network in 2006 and purchased two hours of airtime a week through Tyler Media's KTLR-AM 890 in Oklahoma City. They formed a board of directors and established the organization as a nonprofit.
Sousa said they learned that it would cost about $1 million to build a radio station. He said they were initially apprehensive about fundraising but found support from numerous people excited about their organization.
Finnell said they applied for a permit to broadcast in Lawton and were pleased when the Federal Communications Commission granted them a license. Money for a transmitter tower and other necessary equipment seemed to come in the nick of time — something Sousa and Finnell consider miracles. A Stillwater station came next.
Eventually, the men learned of an opportunity to put up a radio tower in Prague. Finnell said he questioned why they would put a tower in the small community. He was astonished to learn later that the network could broadcast to Tulsa and Bristow from the Prague location.
Sousa said the network now offers programming five days a week with KTLR-AM 890 and KTLR-FM 94.1. In addition to programming from the international broadcasting network Eternal Word Television Network, the stations carry local content.
Finnell is now president of the state network's board of directors.
Blessed by archbishop
Sousa said he is especially pleased to have the support of the Most. Rev. Paul S. Coakley, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma.
Coakley, who blessed the network's broadcasting operation in Prague during a special ceremony, recently shared his thoughts on the venture.
“The Oklahoma Catholic Broadcasting Network is a valuable tool for the continuing evangelization of Catholics and providing them with meaningful information on a variety of timely topics, from daily news to prayer,” Coakley said.
“Catholic radio also provides a means for the evangelization of non-Catholics, as well as Catholics who may have drifted away from the Church. I am very happy to see the expansion of this service into additional areas of Oklahoma.”
Sousa said he hopes to expand the network to include other forms of technology such as Internet and television.
He said he will continue as long as he feels the Lord is giving the project a green light.
“We started getting feedback from people saying they appreciated it, the programs,” he said.
“Our mission is twofold: to evangelize non-Catholics, but to evangelize Catholics as well — to keep the spark going, to encourage people to full practice their faith.”
Our mission is to cover the state of Oklahoma with quality Catholic programs.”