WLRU, the Hillsboro FM station located at 106.9 on the dial and owned and operated by St. Mary Catholic Church, is now broadcasting out of a new, much larger space after the rectory’s front porch was converted into a studio. And soon, the station will venture into airing local sports.
Father Mike Paraniuk, pastor at both St. Mary and at St. Benignus Catholic Church of Greenfield, said Friday the move from the tiny, cramped studio where the broadcast has originated since WLRU began in 2014 offers an opportunity for more guests at the same time and multiple musicians to perform, which has become one of the station’s hallmarks.
The station can also be heard by streaming audio at www.saintmaryhillsboro.org and clicking on the WLRU link.
The non-commercial station had its beginnings in October of 2013 when the Federal Communications Commission opened a two-week window to obtain a license for a low-power FM radio station, broadcasting at 100 watts with a tower no taller than 100 feet. The station can be heard throughout Highland County.
Father Mike, as he is known to his parishioners and friends, said that Larue Turner, a member of the church and a radio engineer, suggested that the church seek the license.
“He said, ‘Let’s do this,’ so we decided to go on faith. I did the ‘why,’ and he did the ‘how,’” said Father Mike. The first broadcast was on Christmas Eve 2014.
After spending its first three-plus years using a small room not much bigger than a large closet, which was dominated by the control board and left little room for guests, Father Mike, with Turner’s technical expertise, recently converted the large foyer area into a new studio, draped with thick curtains for sound enhancement and providing enough space for live interviews with multiple guests multiple musicians. The foyer was originally built in 1923.
WLRU depends on various services for much of its content, including the Catholic TV Network and Relevant Radio for Christian teaching, and also plays southern gospel music from the Gospel Station Network, a Baptist-affiliated broadcaster located in Ada, Okla. This time of year, the station is focusing on broadcasting traditional Christmas music.
The Baptist gospel music is a reflection of Father Mike’s goal to appeal beyond the boundaries of Catholicism, evidenced also by a weekly Monday show called “The Church Among Us,” featuring interviews with local pastors from various denominations.
“It’s a different church every week,” he said. “We are a Christian station, not a Catholic station.” Mondays are when most other local programming occurs, other than various church services throughout the week, including a 10 a.m. Sunday Mass.
A new addition to the schedule will be live broadcasts of Hillsboro High School bowling team matches from the local Highland County Bowl facility adjacent to Alley 21. The first broadcast is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 7, with Father Mike calling the frames.
“This is a little miracle,” said Father Mike, noting that WLRU is the only radio station broadcast among all the Cincinnati Archdiocese churches.
In an earlier interview, he said the station’s call letters are another sign of God’s guiding hand. He recalled that he often joked with Turner that he was going to name the station in his honor, WLRU. Turner resisted the idea, but then Father Mike said he had a dream in which the phrase “Where the Lord is Right for U” came to him.
When Father Mike told Turner of his dream, he said Turner replied, “Well, if God wants it, who am I to stop it?”
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.