Radio good for dancing and praying

Artur Stelmasiak

Radio Niepokalanow celebrates its 70th anniversary. The radio, created by St Maximilian before the war, has numerous listeners today and a team of dedicated journalists who have continued the work of the holy Franciscan. Over 70 years ago (8 December 1938) St Maximilian Maria Kolbe uttered the first words on the air in a test programme. Thus Radio Niepokalanow (RN) became the first Catholic radio in Poland. Although the plans of the Franciscan broadcasting station were destroyed by the Second World War and then the long years of communism the idea of St Maximilian was restored successfully in independent Poland and nowadays the 70 year old radio experiences its second youth. ‘We are trying to make a radio that is good both for dancing and for praying. And I think we have succeeded’, says Fr Marek Wodka, deputy programme director of Radio Niepokalanow.

Live broadcast from the monastery

The inhabitants of the vicinity of Warsaw had to wait over 50 years to hear again the voice, ‘You are listening to Radio Niepokalanow, 102.7 FM’. ‘However, many things have changed since that time. The station has been granted a wider range and today it broadcasts between Lodz and Warsaw and Plock and Radom and in the city of Lodz on 98.6FM’, Katarzyna Bodych, programme director of the Radio informs. ‘But this is not the end. In the near future we want to be heard in central Poland and to the south of Lodz towards Czestochowa’, she adds. The Radio has been strongly promoting its on-line version, thanks to which the radio can be heard all over the world. The new web page and a system of film cameras in the Niepokalanow monastery are almost completed. ‘Thanks to that one can watch what is going on in the radio studio, the basilica or the monastery. Of course, with the exception of the enclosure’, says Izabela Andryszczyk from the RN promotion office. Thus the radio wants to reach to the listeners and potential viewers who want to listen and see what is happening in Niepokalanow.

Not only prayer

The main studio is located in the so-called old western part of the monastery. ‘This building was erected before the war at the initiative of St Maximilian’, Katarzyna Bodych says. Currently, there are 24 people working in the radio. And in the opinion of its director they are the biggest success of the radio. ‘There is nobody that does not fit in with the team. These are really carefully matched people who enjoy working here’, Bodych thinks. The employees are also responsible for the unique atmosphere of the Franciscan radio. We have managed to create a very family, friendly atmosphere. And this atmosphere radiates on the radio waves. ‘Surely, our listeners like us for doing that’, stresses Fr Wodka.
You can experience the family atmosphere during a short visit to the radio studio. In the opinion of journalist Malwina Szymanska those who want to serve other people will find their way here. ‘Since if you want to do this job you should enjoy talking and meeting people. Every journalist should have a heart for people’, Szymanska says.

We look for good sensational news

The programme format is so prepared that everyone can find something for himself/herself. In the programme broadcast all day there is some time for prayer (e.g. daily Mass at 11.00 a.m., broadcast from the basilica) and for entertainment, journalism and good music. ‘Prayer and religious journalism will always be important elements of our programme but we want to meet other spheres of life. Man does not only live on prayer. And therefore, a Catholic radio should propose both reliable news and good entertainment’ Fr Wodka stresses.
An average listener to Radio Niepokalanow is at the age of 40-60. ‘We are glad that our listeners have been involved in social activities but on the other hand we try to win younger generation’, the Franciscan friar says. Therefore, the format has included more programmes for children and young people. One can find almost all radio forms in our offer. ‘We have not got only cabarets and radio plays’, the programme director explains. Journalists’ concern is to present good news from the region. ‘But we do not pick holes in the news. We do not want to kick anyone. We try to find positive sensational news, i.e. simply good news’, adds Izabela Andryszczyk.

Man is most important

Katarzyna Bodych says about herself that she is a local dinosaur. Since she has been working in the editorial board for long. She remembers very well the beginnings of the reactivated Radio Niepokalanow when she was proposed to work here in the middle 1990s. There have been various difficulties. The radio has tried to follow the technological novelties. ‘In the epoch of common computerisation things change so quickly that you do not even know what a modern radio should look like. There is even a certain temptation that like in other radio stations the work is done by computers instead of people. But we do not want that. It would be an insincere approach towards our listeners. Since people are most important to us, those who sit in the studio and those who listen to us in the solitude of their homes’, Katarzyna Bodych stresses.

Day in Radio Niepokalanow

6.30 -11 – Morning with Radio Niepokalanow, focused on national and regional news, press review and infotrafic (news for drivers). The programmes are interwoven with dynamic music.

Between 11 and 16 – Religious programmes. It begins with Mass broadcast from the basilica in Niepokalanow. There are also local self-government, cultural, religious-historical programmes and peaceful music.

Between 16 and 20 – Information-journalistic programmes; reports from the region of Mazowsze and from Lodz, Vatican Radio and cultural programmes.

20 – Evening programmes begin. Vatican Radio, the rosary prayed by the brothers from Niepokalanow, and after the Appeal of Jasna Gora there are various discussions and debates, live broadcast from the studio.

"Niedziela" 1/2009

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: