ASTORIA — Father Jean Farda Tanisma is taking to the airways at St. Joseph’s Church in Astoria to reach a new audiance.
The Saint Joseph Astoria Radio Station, an internet station that the church uses to broadcast parish news and information, went on the air in December.
“We are always looking to reach people any way we can to bring them closer to the faith. Radio is a good way to do this,” Father Tanisma explained.
The station, which is broadcast over the ZenoRadio app, is on the air every day from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. The station presents a mixture of live and taped programming — including live coverage of the weekday morning Mass at 8 a.m., the holy rosary, devotions to various saints, and a rebroadcast of Bishop Robert Brennan’s podcast “Big City Catholics.”
The station also presents “The Brothers in Faith,” a show co-hosted by Father Vincent Chirichella, pastor of St. Joseph’s, and his brother Michael, a deacon at the Shrine Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Williamsburg.
Father Tanisma, the parochial vicar for St. Joseph’s, runs the station from his desktop computer. Among his duties: uploading the podcasts, checking sound levels on Mass broadcasts, and setting the daily schedule of shows.
Listeners can tune in through the ZenoRadio website, www.zeno.fm and search for Saint Joseph Astoria Radio Station, via the ZenoRadio app or by calling in at 631- 359-9196, which directly connects to the church’s station.
Father Tanisma, who holds a doctorate in communications, came up with the idea for a parish-run radio station last year and approached Father Chirichella with it. The pastor immediately said yes.
“When he came aboard as my parochial vicar, he had a willingness to share his gifts with the parish,” Father Chirichella explained. “And one of his gifts is that he wanted to start a radio station to help bring the faith to people who might be in their car driving or maybe at home doing various chores and want to listen to things of faith.”
The radio station is “part of our parish mission, which is evangelizing and bringing people closer to Christ,” Father Chirichella added.
St. Joseph’s Church is the only one in the Diocese of Brooklyn with its own internet radio station, but it’s part of a trend of churches using the internet and other forms of technology to evangelize.
According to a 2021 survey by Pushpay, a donor management system for churches, 93% of church leaders in the U.S. believe that technology plays an important role in their mission, and just 6% report that they are reluctant to embrace technology as an evangelization tool.
During the pandemic, when lockdowns were in effect and churches were closed, many parishes in the diocese live streamed their Masses on their website or on social media platforms like Facebook.
Father Tanisma has big plans for Saint Joseph Astoria Radio Station. He is putting together a 30-minute show dedicated to the parish’s teenagers, “Voice of Young People,” and another show dedicated to younger children at St. Joseph’s called “Voice of the Children.”
Yuliana Restrepo, the parish’s youth minister, is excited about the possibilities. “The teens are really looking forward to this opportunity to express their feelings and tell our community what they think. It will definitely give them a voice to be heard,” she said.
“Voice of Young People” will be important to teenagers in general, she predicted. “It will give the kids an opportunity to hear a voice like theirs,” she explained.
Father Tanisma is pleased with the reception the station has received so far. “How do you spread the good news? We are finding many ways to spread the love of Jesus to the people,” he said.