Diocese of Knoxville now using its own TV studio and program, radio broadcast for New Evangelization
By Emily Booker
Maybe you’re reading while holding a newspaper. Maybe you’re online at your computer or on your phone. The Diocese of Knoxville Office of Communications and Media uses a variety of platforms to reach parishioners all across East Tennessee.
And now, with a new television studio and radio broadcast, teachings and news from the diocese can hopefully reach an even bigger audience.
Along with the construction of the new Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, other parts of the cathedral campus were renovated. One part of that renovation transformed the unused chapel in the former convent of Sacred Heart School into a media studio for the diocese.
The media studio allows the Office of Communications and Media to record shows and interviews, primarily for the monthly TV show, A Call to Discipleship.
“We are starting with simplicity,” said Jim Wogan, director of communications for the diocese. “We have a room, a couple of chairs, some lights, a few cameras, and plenty of ambition.
“We were able to afford a standard black backdrop and a green Chroma Key backdrop. The set for A Call to Discipleship is computer-generated using the Chroma Key effect. We don’t have a control room. We tape everything and edit the show later.”
The studio also includes storage for all the video, audio, and lighting equipment.
Creating a TV studio out of a chapel isn’t easy, Mr. Wogan explained. The convent was built in 1956 for the Sisters of Mercy, who taught at Sacred Heart School.
“The room we’re using is a former chapel, and it’s configured that way. It’s long and narrow. The ceiling is relatively low, not designed for television production. The configuration created some challenges in that we needed space for cameras to get proper depth and shooting angles. It can be pretty tight during production, but I think we do a pretty good job,” Mr. Wogan said.
A Call to Discipleship began in 2016. Mr. Wogan hosts the show. Emily Booker, communications specialist for the diocese, and Deacon Scott Maentz, who serves at Holy Ghost Church in Knoxville, help behind the camera with producing, running the cameras, and editing.
The show invites guests to discuss issues and events in the Catholic Church in East Tennessee. Bishop Richard F. Stika makes regular appearances.
“We are still a small diocese by number of parishioners, but we’re big geographically,” Bishop Stika said. “All of our communications efforts are an attempt to bring us closer together as a Catholic family. The television studio and all of our media allow us to connect with each other, whether it’s a diocesan initiative or the good works of one of our parishes — we know about these things. It’s good for someone in Johnson City or Kingsport, or Mountain City to know about what’s taking place in Chattanooga, or Copperhill, or Soddy-Daisy, or Cleveland. We really are a family, and we need to stay in touch with our family members as the Body of Christ.”
A Call to Discipleship airs through Community Television on Sundays at 5 p.m. on a number of cable outlets in East Tennessee. It also can be viewed on dioknox.org and the diocesan YouTube channel, DioKnoxTV.
The new studio space gives the communications team more control over the look and editing of the show.
“We’re blessed to be here,” Mr. Wogan said of the studio. “Our original plan was, and still is, to tape the show at various locations around the diocese. We started producing the show at Community Television of Knoxville. They have an excellent facility, and we still air our show on their channel.
“We’ve also produced the show at the Knoxville Catholic High School student television station. We’ve taped inside the Our Lady of the Mountains Chapel at the Chancery, and we’ve also taped in the bishop’s office. While all of these locations were good, we needed a location to call home,” Mr. Wogan said. “Frankly, we got tired of moving the furniture around bishop’s office so much. I think he did, too.”
The show still has the capability to tape on location, exploring the parishes and ministries across the diocese.
“We’ll still find reasons and places to tape outside the studio,” Mr. Wogan said. “The recent segment we taped with Cardinal Rigali inside the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and our show that originated from the Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul in Chattanooga are just two examples of what’s possible.”
Mr. Wogan led a production team that broadcast the historic March 3 dedication of the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus live on the Internet. The Mass was live-streamed around the world, and a recording of the dedication Mass aired on EWTN.
The Diocese of Knoxville also has a growing presence on the radio.
The 9 a.m. Mass from Sacred Heart Cathedral is broadcast every Sunday at noon on WKXV (900 AM/100.7 FM) in Knoxville. WKXV has been on the air since 1953 and has traditionally aired Southern Gospel programming. It is believed the Cathedral Mass is the first Catholic program to air on WKXV in at least 40 years, possibly the first in the station’s history.
“It’s all about outreach to our Catholic family, to non-Catholics who don’t understand the beauty of our faith, and to Catholics who may have fallen away,” Bishop Stika said. “Our radio broadcast and the subsequent posting of the Sunday Mass on our website allows those who can’t be at church, or those who have stopped attending, to connect and reconnect with their faith.”
Bishop Stika appears monthly on Relevant Radio’s Morning Air program to discuss current topics. Relevant Radio is a Catholic talk radio station with a potential listening audience of 68 million people.
Father Julian Cardona, associate pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Lenoir City, hosts the Spanish radio program “Creciendo juntos en nuestra Fe Católica” (“Growing together in our Catholic Faith”) on WKZX 93.5 FM every Sunday at 8 a.m.
“For many years the Office of Hispanic Ministry produced a radio program that used prerecorded content, including apologetics, that allowed us to have a Catholic presence in local Spanish-language radio,” said Blanca Primm, director of the diocese’s Office of Hispanic Ministry.
“One of the many fruits that the V Encuentro’s consultation process brought to our diocese was the realization that we needed to provide newer and fresher content to better connect our listeners to our own Catholic Hispanic community,” Mrs. Primm added.
The program, sponsored by the Office of Hispanic Ministry and St. Thomas the Apostle Parish, aims to evangelize and share the Catholic faith through the explanation of the sacred Scriptures, apologetic themes, music, and answering listener questions.
“Father Julian agreed to undertake this project as the host of the program, and has deeply enriched its content by providing prayer, the Sunday Gospel reading and homily, apologetics, catechesis, songs, answers to listeners’ questions, and inviting occasional guests to the show,” Mrs. Primm said.
To leave a question on the air, call 865-637-4769 and press 2.
All radio broadcasts are also available on the diocesan website, dioknox.org.
The Diocese of Knoxville Office of Communications and Media continues to look for new and inventive ways to reach people in the diocese and beyond. Increased media presence helps keep parishioners aware of what’s happening in the diocese and invites them to get involved.
The diocese also takes an active role on social media through Facebook and Twitter, which allow interaction with parishioners, the Catholic community, and the public. You can follow the Diocese of Knoxville on Facebook at facebook.com/dioknox and on Twitter @knoxdiocese.
“All of these things, the TV studio, the radio broadcast, our website and social media messages, and our East Tennessee Catholic newspaper and magazine, are evangelizing tools,” Bishop Stika said. “They combine to keep all of us aware of the mission of the diocese to spread news of how we live — and should live — as Christians.”
“The East Tennessee Catholic newspaper and magazine really lead the way in our media presence,” Mr. Wogan said. “Both publications have had a tremendously positive impact at the diocesan level, and also nationally, and in some cases globally.
“Until a few years ago we were one of the few dioceses in the country that didn’t have a strong presence on the airwaves or on the Internet. I think we’ve been able to enhance those efforts through our new YouTube Channel, the Sunday radio broadcasts, and our website and social media platforms.”