Tag Archives: Scott Turicchi

On the air in the City of Angels

LEGATE DOUG SHERMAN brings Catholic radio to Los Angeles for the first time 14 years . . .

cover-feb15Scott Turicchi confesses he was a little skeptical when he was asked to meet a fellow Legate named Doug Sherman who wanted to bring Catholic  radio to Los Angeles.

Past efforts to start Catholic stations in the City of Angels had not panned out, and Turicchi, a member of Legatus’ Ventura/LA North and Hollywood chapters, wasn’t sure another could compete with the myriad of choices vying for Angelenos’ attention.

“But I said, ‘Sure, I’ll meet this guy,’” he explained. “I was pretty convinced that we’d have a nice lunch and I’d have some questions, figuring there’s no way he’s going to have really good answers.”

Towering presence

However, Sherman surprised Turicchi. The At-Large Legatus member and custom home builder from Tahoma, Calif., had started more than 25 Catholic radio stations in 16 years. He had a proven business model and knew how to generate a donor base.

Turicchi was intrigued. Following a series of meetings and conversations, Turicchi’s family foundation invested in what became the 33rd station in the Immaculate Heart Radio network. In addition, Turicchi pointed Sherman toward other interested parties, including Legatus members who responded with monetary and other donations.

KHJ 930-AM, a former top-40 station purchased for $9.75 million, went on the air Nov. 17 with a reach of 15 million listeners, making it the biggest Catholic station in the network — and in the country. It was the first time in 14 years that English-speaking Catholic radio had been heard in the LA market.

Sherman said the network decided to establish a Catholic station in Los Angeles because the area represented a huge void. “It’s the largest market by some metrics in the country and when you looked at our map,” he explained, “it stood out like a sore thumb. We had stations everywhere but LA, and we would hear from people that we needed to be there.”

Immaculate Heart Radio also had been challenged in 2010 by Chuck Haas, a member of Legatus’ Napa Valley Chapter, to expand its reach to all of California. Haas had been personally touched by Catholic radio several years earlier when he tuned in to an Immaculate Heart Radio station after seeing a billboard while driving on I-80.

“It turned a kind of nominal, lukewarm Catholic to where he is today — now Catholicism is the center of my life,” said Haas. When he started supporting the network, he was asked to take over a stalled Immaculate Heart Radio campaign for the San Francisco Bay area during an economic downturn.

Haas, now the network’s chief financial officer and member of Legatus’ Board of Governors, said said he would agree to direct the campaign if the network would commit to covering the entire state. At the time, Sherman thought just finishing the capital campaign in San Francisco would be overwhelming. “And trying to tie that into a campaign to cover the rest of California was beyond overwhelming.” Still, he continued, “Four years later, we’ve done it and Chuck has been a huge part of it.”

Besides Los Angeles, Immaculate Heart Radio in the last four-and-a-half years has added California stations in Monterey/Carmel, San Luis Obispo, San Diego, Orange County, Modesto and the Central Valley. Additional stations went live in Las Vegas and Maui. The network also provides access to its programming online, MP3 streaming, and smartphone apps. More recently, it has added streaming channels that play contemporary Christian music and sacred music.

Healing touch

Legate Doug Sherman

Legate Doug Sherman

The network started in 1997 with KIHM, named for the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in the Reno/Lake Tahoe area, where Sherman lived and ran Sherman Homes. At the time, the station was the seventh full-time Catholic radio station in the country — compared to 1,600 run by evangelical Protestants. The number of Catholic stations and translators has since grown to more than 300.

Sherman, a convert to Catholicism who was raised “Presbyterian with a Southern Baptist twist,” was impressed during World Youth Day in 1993 by St. John Paul II’s message about the New Evangelization. Even before that, however, he had come to a new appreciation of the Church as a gold mine of truth that needed to be shared.

Then, while driving across the country to take a car to one of his children, he reached into a grocery bag full of Catholic cassette tapes that a fellow parishioner had given him. While listening to them, he thought, “This needs to be on the radio.”

When the idea to start a Catholic radio station began to take shape, Sherman said he never thought it would involve more than one station for Lake Tahoe. Expansion came quickly, however, beginning with a request from Sherman’s bishop to start a station in Sacramento. Other opportunities soon followed and within a decade eight stations had been added in California and New Mexico.

As the network grew, Sherman was spurred on by the stories he heard about lives being changed through Catholic radio.

More than 40 listeners have contacted the network to say they had been considering suicide, but changed their minds because of what they heard on Immaculate Heart Radio. Others credit the network’s messages opposing contraception and abortion with their decisions to bear children.

A recently widowed woman told how she had been overwhelmed with grief and unable to get out of bed each morning when she happened to hear the rosary on her clock-radio. Soon, Sherman said, she was praying it every morning. “She called to thank us for bringing her back to life.”

Another woman was driving to a drug store to buy pills to end her life when, while listening to a rock music station, her car hit a bump and the radio changed to Immaculate Heart Radio, which was airing the rosary.

Doug Sherman, Rev. Ed Benioff and Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gómez

Doug Sherman, Rev. Ed Benioff and Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gómez

“She hadn’t heard the rosary since she was a little girl sitting on her grandmother’s lap,” Sherman explained, “and it brought her such a sense of peace that all she could do was pull over to the side of road and listen.” The next morning, she drove to the nearest Catholic parish, met with a priest and began the process of returning to the Church.

In addition to starting radio stations, Sherman’s interest in Catholic radio led to the formation of the Catholic Radio Association, a trade group that provides support for fledgling and established stations.

About the time he began Immaculate Heart Radio, Sherman learned about stations that were being started by a mortgage banker in St. Louis and a dentist in Florida. “The three of us got together along the way because our combined knowledge about radio couldn’t fill a thimble.” Their monthly phone calls grew into the association.

Immaculate Heart Radio sees its mission as helping Catholics better understand the truth and beauty of their faith and bringing non-Catholics and lapsed Catholics to a greater understanding of Christ and the Church. Toward that end, the network produces much of its own programming, including The Patrick Madrid Show and Right Here, Right Now.

Turicchi, president and CFO of j2 Global and member of Legatus’ Board of Governors,  said that despite the number of distractions people in Los Angeles experience, he thinks Catholic radio will reach people there because, amid the “cacophony of sound, half truth and partial truth,” there is a legitimate hunger for the truth.

“When people find the truth, if they listen for 10 minutes, I think they will want to consume more. If they consume more, they will understand the Church better.”

JUDY ROBERTS is Legatus magazine’s staff writer.

Learn more: IHRadio.com

Legates witness history

Double canonization features double themes: Second Vatican Council and the family . . .

cover-june14When the Vatican announced last fall that Pope John Paul II would be raised to the honors of the altar on Mercy Sunday 2014, no one was surprised. In fact, shortly after his death on the eve of Mercy Sunday 2005, the faithful insisted on his canonization.

Italians held signs aloft at his funeral that read “Santo Subito!” or “Sainthood Now!” Nine years later, their demands were met with nearly a million people on hand to witness the largest gathering at the Vatican in history.

Between 800,000 and 1 million people jammed St. Peter’s Square on April 27 spilling out down the Via della Conciliazione all the way to the Tiber River and dozens of squares in Rome, most watching on big screens set up for the canonization of two popes: John Paul and John XXIII.

Witness to history

Don & Michele D’Amour

Don & Michele D’Amour

Dozens of Legatus members were among the pilgrims witnessing history. Not only was it historic in terms of size, but it was the first time the Church has canonized two popes at once — and it was the first canonization with two popes present at the altar, as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI concelebrated the Mass with his successor Pope Francis.

Donald and Michele D’Amour, members of Legatus’ Western Massachusetts Chapter, were in St. Peter’s Square, halfway between the altar and the obelisk.

“It was a powerful and humbling moment for me,” Michele said. “It was humbling to be among all the pilgrims, stretching for miles beyond the Vatican, which really was symbolic of the solidarity in Christ that we have in the universal Church.”

Brian & Bernice Follett

Brian & Bernice Follett

“These newly canonized popes,” Don added, “were great leaders who had the courage to be faithful and make things happen for the good of the Church and the world. In the presence of four popes, you felt the continuity, how they helped each other bring renewal to the Church and bring the gospel to the world. It was inspiring and gave a lot of food for thought.”

Brian and Bernice Follett, members of Legatus’ new chapter in Austin, Texas, watched the canonization ceremony from the roof of a convent adjacent to St. Peter’s Square. The couple attended John Paul’s beatification in 2011, but had a much better view this time around.

“It was a phenomenal experience to have two popes canonized at once and to see Pope Francis and Pope Benedict together,” Brian said. “I remember John Paul’s 1987 visit to Phoenix where I lived after college. I wasn’t practicing my faith much, but I listened to him on the radio. He has meant a lot to me over the years, so this canonization was very special.”

Scott and Lannette Turicchi of Legatus’ Hollywood Chapter brought their three daughters along for the canonization, having a prime spot on the convent roof with the Folletts.

“It was one of those moments in time that you just can’t really describe but you’ll never forget,” said Lannette, who recently wrapped production on her John Paul documentary, The Prophet of Our Time. “For seven years my children watched me make a movie about this pope, so to share the moment with them was very special. They knew they were witnessing something that would never happen again in their lifetime.”

Pope of the family

Scott & Lannette Turicchi

Scott & Lannette Turicchi

In his homily at the canonization Mass, Pope Francis declared John Paul II the “pope of the family” to great applause from the massive congregation. The Holy Father prayed for the new saint’s intercession as the Church prepares for the Synod on the Family in October, saying that “from his place in heaven, he guides and sustains us.”

Speaker and author Jason Evert, who also attended the canonization, told Legatus magazine that John Paul said, in a private conversation many years ago, that if he was remembered by history, he would like to be known as the “pope of the family.”

“When he was called the pope of the family, that was my favorite moment of the whole canonization,” Evert said. “I was thrilled that Pope Francis alluded to that passing conversation that John Paul had. It was how he wanted to be remembered.

“I think it ties in very well with the upcoming synod,” he said, “because John Paul’s writings — in particular the Theology of the Body and his appreciation of human love and his love for families — is really going to play a key role in the synod. The truth is that as the family goes, so goes the whole world.”

Author and theologian Ralph Martin agrees.

“John Paul II actually spent a lot of time with families,” said Martin, a consultor to the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization and member of Legatus’ Ann Arbor Chapter.

“He went on camping trips with young couples and young people, and he encouraged them in the vocation of marriage and family,” Martin said. “He not only taught about it in his post-synodal exhortation Familiaris Consortio (1981), but he modeled it in almost unforgettable images of him loving people, hanging out with lay people, sharing the life of the people.

“Long before Pope Francis ever said, ‘You’ve got to have the smell of the sheep on you,’ John Paul had the smell of the sheep on him,” Martin explained. “He really modeled that in a wonderful way.”

Bookends of Vatican II

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI embraces Pope Francis at the canonization Mass on April 27

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI embraces Pope Francis at the canonization Mass on April 27

The canonization also highlighted the fact that John XXIII, led by the Holy Spirit, called the Second Vatican Council while John Paul II, himself a father of the Council, spent his pontificate explaining and implementing its teachings.

Pope Francis noted in his homily that both new pope saints “lived through the tragic events of the century but were not overwhelmed by them. These were two men of courage, filled with … the Holy Spirit. In [them] there dwelt a living hope and an indescribable joy.”

Evert pointed out that John Paul II — like the first Pope John Paul — took his name from John XXIII and Paul VI, both fathers of the Council.

“These two new saints were bookends of the Second Vatican Council,” he said. “John Paul saw his name as integral to his pontificate, implementing the Council’s directives. Key to that are religious freedom, the role of the Church in the modern world, calling the laity to take part in the New Evangelization, and building a culture of life and civilization of love.”

The confusion that occurred after the Council wasn’t the intended result, Martin observed. “But John Paul got the whole thing back on track and was able to interpret the Council for us. Through his very long pontificate, he was able, issue by issue, to clarify carefully the Council’s teaching and really put us on a solid foundation for its implementation in the future.

“He called the synod of 1985 that was so important in laying down guidelines for how to properly interpret the Council,” he said. “He made a major contribution to safeguarding the fruits of the Council for the Church.”

Lannette Turicchi of Legatus’ Hollywood Chapter expressed hope that the two new saints of Vatican II would inspire the faithful in the years to come.

“I hope it’s a new springtime for the Church,” she said. “Our Church is what we make of it. If we allow apathy, we’ll get apathy. If we promote love, we’ll get love. Whatever our actions are, that’s what’s going to prevail.”

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is Legatus magazine’s editor-in-chief.