JACKSON TWP. Fifteen years ago, Barbara Gaskell had a dream to offer Catholic radio. Today WILB, Living Bread Radio can be heard on three stations in Northeast Ohio.
WILB, housed at the St. Raphael Bookstore at 4365 Fulton Drive NW, recently extended its lineup with a new offering: A free streaming music platform of traditional Catholic music that streams 24 hours a day on Android and Apple devices.
The app, "Great Catholic Music," is the first of its kind in the country, Gaskell said, because it features traditional and liturgical Catholic music.
"We have three spoken-word stations, but to have music is something I've wanted to do for a long time," she said.
WILB AM 1016 and 94.5 FM cover Stark County. WILB FM 89.5 covers Youngstown. Up to now, the station primarily offered local and nationally-syndicated talk programs.
"We researched and found there are a couple of Catholic stations offering contemporary Catholic music, but not the extent that there's a streaming platform," Gaskell said. "Catholic music is unique. So many of the artists have no platform. We've been selling Catholic music in the store for 30 years, from chants to Matt Maher. I would challenge anyone to find a station that plays that (variety)."
"This has been a dream Barb has had for 10, 15 years," said Michael Roberts, WILB's program manager. "Most of the time, when you turn on faith-based stations, it's pretty much the same type of music (contemporary). We have some of that, but like Barb said, you don't hear liturgical music. 'Great Catholic Music' fills that void."
Roberts added that the new app, which launched on March 1, will rotate about 1,000 songs, including seasonal music.
"I've always loved liturgical music; it's always been an interest of mine," he said. "It was perfect fit. We've put a lot of thought into this."
"It's all to help you come closer to God in a deeper way," Gaskell said. "It's a good tool. It's another way of teaching the faith."
Dan Clark, WILB station manager, stressed that music is integral to the Catholic Mass.
"It's like nothing else," he said of the new app. "A lot of times at Mass, you hear a different version of a song because it's limited to an organist or cantor. Now, you can hear a choral version."
By offering talk programs and music, Gaskell said, WILB has achieved balance.
"We're like two lungs," she said. "We feel like we're covering both ends of the spectrum."
Roberts said they've gotten feedback from as far away as California.
"That tells us there's a thirst and a need for this," he said.
"And it's safe listening," Gaskell added. "You don't have to worry about what your kids or your grandmother might hear."
In January, St. Raphael partnered with DS Productions to house Irish singer Dana Scallon's entire music catalogue.
"Music is so important," Gaskell said. "You can praise God by just listening."
To learn more, visit WILB on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, www.livingbreadradio.com or at GreatCatholicMusic.com.
Reach Charita at 330-580-8313 or email@example.com
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