Radio apostolate extends reach to South Jersey

Radio apostolate extends reach to South Jersey
WGYM personalities Gabriella Furmato and James Mandfredonia. Photo by Peter G. Sánchez

WGYM personalities Gabriella Furmato and James Mandfredonia.
Photo by Peter G. Sánchez

EWING — For more than 10 years, the Domestic Church Media Foundation, a non-profit apostolate operating out of a radio station here, not five miles from Trenton, has provided Catholic programming to northern New Jersey, New York and parts of Pennsylvania. They have used two transmitters, one in Freehold (WFJS-FM, 89.3) and one in Trenton (WFJS-AM, 1260).

With last fall’s acquisition of another transmitter, in Hammonton, the apostolate has expanded its reach to Southern New Jersey. WGYM 1580-AM is currently heard in parts of the six counties of the Diocese of Camden — Atlantic, Cumberland, Cape May, Salem, Gloucester and Camden — and southern Burlington County.

The “rock-solid programming gives Catholics and non-Catholics a resource that they can go to, to learn about the faith, and be empowered by it,” said James Manfredonia, president and CEO of Domestic Church Media.

In 2003, he and his wife, Cheryl, started the nonprofit, inspired by Pope Paul VI’s 1963 decree on the Media of Social Communications, Inter Mirifica, which states that the Catholic Church “considers it one of its duties to announce the Good News of salvation … with the help of the media of social communications and to instruct men in their proper use.”

The foundation’s Freehold and Trenton call letters, WFJS, are a reference to Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, a pioneer for Catholic media evangelization. Indeed, the Ewing station is known as the Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Center for Media Evangelization.

Eighty percent of the 24-hour apostolate’s listener-supported programming comes from the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN)’s Global Catholic Radio Network, with its offerings of “Catholic Answers Live,” “The Journey Home” and “Life on the Rock.”

The other 20 percent is original content, such as Manfredonia’s own Monday-Thursday “Come to Me” program, and Cheryl’s “Music Hour,” which educates listeners of the history of sacred music.

Gabriella Furmato, 27 years old, hosts the “TGI-Friday” program with Manfredonia every week from 4-6 p.m. The fast-paced program includes guest interviews, music and live listener call-ins. Furmato, also the foundation’s director of community relations, sees a “thirst for Catholic radio, to know the faith,” especially among her fellow young adults.

“This radio station becomes a sanctuary for people, whether it is during Jim and my program, if they are hearing the word of God on one of the Masses we broadcast, or with the recitation of the rosary,” she said.

Manfredonia mentioned that “the Atlantic City Expressway goes right through the Hammonton signal, so from Philadelphia to Atlantic City, you get the station. So there’s a lot of vehicular traffic (that could be listening), along with the listening area.”

Last fall, Manfredonia met with Bishop Dennis Sullivan about DCM’s push into Hammonton, and the diocesan leader gave his blessing.

Manfredonia is also happy and appreciative of EWTN’s contribution to the station. “With EWTN, one can be sure that what they are hearing is within the church’s teaching and orthodox,” he says.

The new transmitter in Hammonton gives Domestic Church Media some new content possibilities, such as a remote broadcast at a parish in the Diocese of Camden, or interviews/radio programs with diocesan priests.

One such priest, Father Tim Byerley, pastor of Mary, Queen of All Saints in Pennsauken, can occasionally be heard on the station and is excited about its further reach.

“Radio has been a wonderfully convenient way for people to hear the word of God,” and DCM provides “good, solid catechesis at your fingertips, whether while driving or working in the office,” he said.

“DCM is a great tool for this busy and hectic age to learn and be inspired.”

For more information on the Domestic Church Media Foundation, and programming for WGYM 1580-AM, visit www.domesticchurchmedia.org.

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