The first Radio Mass broadcast occurred on October 6, 1946, more than six decades ago. The program was the brainchild of Rev. Joseph Dougherty S.J. who was pastor of St Ignatius Church at the time. The successful broadcast of the popular and highly attended Novena of Grace, held annually at St Ignatius, inspired Fr Dougherty’s pioneering idea of broadcasting the celebration of Mass on a weekly basis. A survey of approximately 150 Novena of Grace listeners confirmed an interest in a weekly live broadcast of the Sunday liturgy.
Local radio station, WFBR, was impressed with the idea and offered their facilities and broadcast time at no cost with the stipulation that the Mass be celebrated in their studio. The final step in the process was approval by then Archbishop of Baltimore, Michael Curley. The Archbishop, although favorable toward the project, insisted that the Mass not be celebrated in the studio but from a chapel or church—a sacred place a so-called “remote” location in broadcast parlance.
At the time a “remote” broadcast cost $900 which was a considerable sum of money in the mid- 1940’s. Fr Dougherty put the project on hold while trying to raise the necessary funds. When Archbishop Curley provided monies for one full year of broadcast time, Radio Mass of Baltimore was on the air.
On October 6, 1946, the first broadcast was heard live from the Chapel of Mercy Hospital a few blocks south of St Ignatius Church. Interns and doctors became lectors and altar servers. Fr. Dougherty at a separate microphone commented on many parts of the mass, at times translating the Latin for the benefit of the radio listeners.
In 1968, the late Rev. William-M.J. Driscoll became Director of Radio Mass. He remained Director for almost twenty five years until 1993. Four years later, on December 1, 1997, the new Director, Rev William J. Watters S.J. moved the Radio Mass broadcast to the Chapel of Grace at St. Ignatius Church where he was the pastor. A contract was signed with WBAL, one of Baltimore’s 50 thousand watt stations. Fr. James Casciotti, the present Director of Radio Mass, assumed the office in 2005.
WBAL changed its programming policy beginning in January 2015, which caused Radio Mass to seek a new venue. A contract was signed with two Radio stations, WQLL and WCBM. Now Radio Mass is broadcast live at 9:00 o’clock in the morning on Q-1370 on the AM dial and simulcast live on the FM 99.9 translator. Our liturgy is then rebroadcast at 6:00 o’clock in the evening on WCBM- 680 on the AM dial. Both WQLL and WCBM stream their broadcast onto the internet
With the advent of internet technology, Radio Mass can be heard simultaneously anywhere that has internet access, virtually world-wide. Stay tuned for sixty eight more years of broadcast excellence.
© 2009 Radio Mass of Baltimore
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