By ROB HERBST
The Catholic Week
FAIRHOPE — It’s a new voice, new look and new second home for Archangel Radio.
Beginning Monday, March 18, Archangel Radio’s flagship local morning show will be known as “LA Catholic Morning” and will be co-hosted from 7-8 a.m. weekdays by Michelle McAloon and Todd Sylvester.
Sylvester has hosted the “Live Hour” in the same time slot for the past seven years. The new program coincides with Archangel Radio’s addition of an FM station. “LA Catholic Morning.” All Archangel Radio programming will be available on its original home at 1410-AM as well as newly-acquired 94.5-FM.
“I’m excited about an additional voice,” Sylvester said. “We’ve always needed a women’s perspective on things. … That’s going to be good, that’s going to be healthy. FM is really cool in that we’ll be reaching a lot of people that may be scanning the dial because you don’t normally scan AM. Hopefully this will increase our ability to evangelize.”
The station has also unveiled new logos for its morning show and FM addition.
Archangel Radio Station Manager Ellen Taylor said the station, led by Archangel Radio President Joe Roszkowski, had been actively working toward obtaining an FM position over the last 18 months.
The FCC granted Archangel Radio an FM spot in late 2018 and Taylor said it’s an important tool for evangelizing to more people. It also seemed like the right time to debut a new program.
“When people listen to us at 1410 AM it is very intentional to come find us there. Now that we’re also going to have a presence on the FM dial, there’s much more ability for people to wander in and sample the station,” Taylor explained. “The conversation is bigger, the platform is bigger, the issues are of monumental importance to us as Catholics and to us as Christians that tune in and listen.”
As far as Archangel Radio’s new morning program “LA Catholic Morning,” Taylor expects it to feature “compelling Catholic conversations, local news, and national and international stories as filtered through our Catholic faith.”
Many of the features and guests will remain, with new segments, stories and analysis blended in.
According to Sylvester, he doesn’t know how different “LA Catholic Morning” will be to the “Live Hour” until the show truly takes off.
“I have no idea and that’s why it’s kind of exciting,” Sylvester said. “It’s like going on vacation to a place where you’ve never been.”
McAloon brings a diverse background to the station. She’s a retired Army officer and also a canon lawyer. She and her family lived overseas for 17 years, including in Paris, where McAloon studied canon law. She also has a master’s degree in theology.
But radio will be a new experience for her.
“Not in my wildest dreams (did I think of radio), but one of my goals was to get into the conversation about leadership and church governance,” said McAloon, who has lived in Fairhope for the past 2-1/2 years. “So when Ellen asked me about this, I thought God you have a sense of humor here, but maybe we’ll give it a shot.”
Taylor said McAloon’s background as a canon lawyer, along with having lived overseas, will bring benefits to the program.
“The ability to have a canon lawyer on the air with us every morning that can really give us perspective is great,” Taylor said. “… Right there she brings a presence of knowledge and understanding to the show. She’s funny. She’s lived everywhere. She’s got a tough side and soft side. She’ll bring some humor too.”
While Taylor is excited for the “LA Catholic Morning” to be on the FM dial, she said there’s still room to grow. Archangel Radio’s FM signal is a translator signal, which has a smaller footprint than a full-power FM.
The FM signal is expected to cover from West Mobile to a good portion of Fairhope, while the AM signal reaches from roughly the Mississippi state line to the Florida state line. Taylor said the station is actively searching for a stronger signal in southern Baldwin County.
With a translator signal, Taylor said Archangel Radio must have identical programming on AM and FM. When high school football season comes, that means Archangel Radio will not be able to put the McGill-Toolen game on one station and St. Michael on the other. When there were conflicts between the teams’ schedules last year, St. Michael games were broadcast on Archangel Radio’s app.
But it’s still a huge step in the growth of the lay-owned and operated Catholic radio station that’s less than 10 years old. Taylor said she’s thankful to Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi and the Archangel Radio Board of Directors for helping the ministry grow.
That growth is not lost on Sylvester when he reflects on his time with Archangel Radio.
“It is incredible,” Sylvester said. “People are being touched by this ministry. That is such a blessing to be a part of. … Maybe the first year I thought really the only people who were listening were friends of myself and (Fr. Steve Williams, pastor of St. Lawrence Parish in Fairhope). Those were the ones. Then all of a sudden we’re meeting these people, ‘well you don’t know me … but I basically know everything about you.’ My wife and I would be at some event or at the grocery store and somebody would walk up to us and share some story. That to me is such a tremendous gift that God is giving us.”