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WJPN is on the air: John Paul The Great Catholic High School launches FM radio station

wjpndedication
Sister Mary Jordan Hoover, principal of Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School, with donors Mike Kosar and Tom Vetter. Kosar and his wife, Corrine, are parents of a student at the school and made the new stadium lights possible. Tom Vetter, and his wife, Gabriella, are friends of the school and provided funding for the new low power radio station, 106.3 WJPN. The new field lights and radio station were dedicated at an evening event with the John Paul community. [Photo: Jennifer Cole]

John Paul The Great Catholic High School is on the air.

The school near Dumfries debuted a new low-power FM radio station 106.3 WJPN. The radio station will be used to broadcast classes, community information, and to simulcast the EWTN Catholic Radio Network.

“The sky is really the limit as to what we can with it,” said Jennifer Cole, director of enrollment and communications at the school.

A three-minute interview of the Principal Sister Mary Jordan Hoover recorded by two 11th grade students using an iPad was the first content to air on the station. Next year, the school will begin a communications course to teach 25 to 30 interested students about radio broadcasting, and to create more original content for the station that could include broadcasting sports games. The school still must build a radio studio for students to use.

Listeners in their cars can hear the low-power FM station within a 10 to 12-mile radius of the radio station tower affixed to new field lighting at the high school. “The signal is strong here locally, but as it travels farther out things like hills can kill the signal,” said Dave Morales, the school’s technology director.

The school spent four years and $250,000 developing the new radio station to cover permit costs, legal fees, to purchase equipment. The bulk of the expense came with the purchase of stadium lights for their football field, which ended up being the only feasible place to install the radio antenna. 

The seed money for the radio came from Tom Vetter of Montclair, and the donation for the stadium lights from Corrine and Mike Kosar of Woodbridge. Until now, the school regularly rented large lights for outdoor events before the installation of the new lights, said Cole.

The new lights meant the school did not have to build a radio tower. The FM transmitter is now placed on one of the light poles 102 feet above the football field, the highest spot on campus, said Morales.

 

The school held a ceremony Friday night to celebrate the new lights and the radio station’s inaugural broadcast.

The FCC will not allow the school to sell advertising the same way a commercial radio station does due to its low-power status. However, the school may thank contributing families and businesses on air similar to the way NPR announces its underwriting companies.

“It’s no longer just about what is happening within these four walls. Now we want to share our message with the community,” said Cole.

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