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LA Catholics get 1st English-language radio station in almost 15 years

Immaculate Heart Radio president Doug Sherman (l.) celebrates the launch of a new English-language Catholic radio station in Los Angeles with Archbishop José Gomez and Father Ed Benioff.
Immaculate Heart Radio president Doug Sherman (l.) celebrates the launch of a new English-language Catholic radio station in Los Angeles with Archbishop José Gomez and Father Ed Benioff. Josie Huang/KPCC

A former Ranchero radio station has become L.A.'s only spot for English-language Catholic programming.

KHJ AM 930 officially launched Monday with a blessing by Archbishop José Gomez, head of the largest Roman Catholic archdiocese in the country.

"Its programs will be like a family friend that will accompany us throughout the day at our homes, our work, and especially when we are on our cars in the L.A. freeways," Gomez said.

There are already two Spanish-language Catholic radio stations in L.A. Catholic leaders say they want to reach more people, including the English-speaking children of immigrants.

"As you know the second-generation — not just the Latinos but the Vietnamese and Koreans —they've become assimilated," said Father Ed Benioff, the Archdiocese's director of the Office of New Evangelization. "We want them to rediscover their faith in English."

Evangelical Protestantism, which competes for members with the Catholic Church, broke into the radio market decades ago and dominates the religious airwaves.

But Immaculate Heart Radio, which bought KHJ earlier this year for about $10 million, expects to reach many of L.A.'s 4 million-plus Catholics, and then some, said president and founder Doug Sherman.

L.A. is "the biggest market in the country," Sherman said. "It reaches 15 million people during the day and almost about 12 million people at night. It's huge."

The for-profit Catholic Family Radio Network started an English-language station in LA in 1998, but could not sell enough advertising and shut it down couple years later.

Immaculate Heart Radio, founded in Reno, NV, owns 32 other Catholic radio stations.

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