Time really flies when there is fun to be had… it seemed only yesterday when CatholicSG Radio was launched on the 7th Sunday of Easter which also happened to be World Communications Day on June 2, 2019. Technically we started the stream on June 1, 2019 but the full swing of programmes for the station began the next day.
So what has the journey been like? Well, in the beginning, CatholicSG Radio started with only one person manning and managing the scheduling and programmes. From the early days, we were blessed to have had a great bunch of Volunteer/s in the Archdiocese (VITA) Radio volunteers who stepped forward and began to assume responsibilities for the production of several of our talk programmes.
One initiative has now morphed into a nice community of volunteers that produces our children’s programmes, ‘God’s Little Helpers’. The handful of stay at home mums started roping in their friends and the snowball effect was that the group has now grown to its current three teams of volunteers, comprising different families, who helm the different thematic radio programmes for our young ones. We now have a steady number of about 25 children who regularly lend us their angelic voices to do the children’s programmes, which are lovingly scripted and produced by their parents.
Other ground up initiatives produced by the different teams of volunteers include programmes such as our feature on saints called ‘Holey-Moley, who’s that Saint?’ and our latest programme, ‘The Faith Journal’ that looks at Current Affairs from a faith perspective. In these initiatives, the volunteers work in teams to research, script and produce the programmes. Another sizeable pool of volunteers help us with the voiceovers needed to produce the daily scriptural reflections. They are rostered to read and record daily scriptural reflections, that are then passed to us for uploads into the livestream, both for the English and the Mandarin reflections.
Looking back, CatholicSG Radio has definitely grown in terms of what we offer to our listeners. While we initially started with mainly music and some talk programmes, we have now expanded the complement of materials to include intercessory prayer sessions, novenas as well as reflections.
Through our developmental efforts, we are now also able to place livestream videos directly into our CatholicSG Radio app, which allows our users a one-stop experience and choice of choosing either to listen or to watch the videos available on demand. Resulting from this, we are able to pin the Archdiocese’s videos hosted on Youtube, allowing people a choice to either view or listen to the stream such as the daily mass! Having this facility also enabled us to stream the occassional Vatican’s livestream events such as on 27 March 2020 when Pope Francis delivered the extraordinary Urbi et Orbi to pray for an end to the Covid-19 pandemic.
We are also very blessed and proud of the fact that we are able to offer prayers especially the rosary, in popular Chinese dialects as well as in Tamil. In fact, while we started initially with the Chinese programming at 11am and 3pm, we have now expanded to include a Tamil hour at 4pm as well. With the onset of the COVID-19 circuit breaker in Singapore, we have also introduced audio streaming of the Archbishop’s daily Mass over our live programme so that it offers our Catholic sisters and brothers an alternative platform to experience the Mass. We have an average of 100 people who use our app to tune in for the daily mass. It may not sound like a huge number but we’re confident the Lord is working.
What is also of interest to us is the usage of our app since it was launched. To date, we have nearly 150,000 people who have tuned into CatholicSG Radio at least once. The average time spent listening to us increased from a mere 12 minutes per session to 18 minutes per session. In a nutshell, we have regular listeners who come in about 3 times per day and each time, our listener spends about 18 minutes listening to us, on the livestream. Our busiest hours are from 8am to 9am, 12noon to 2pm and again from 6pm to 7pm. Coincidentally these are possibly the times when we spend travelling to and from work.
As our programming efforts began to diversify, our collaborative efforts expanded in also enabling our CatholicSG Radio platform to be used by the different Archdiocesan offices and ministries to reach new audiences. Our earliest collaborator was the Archdiocese Commission for the Apostolate for Mandarin Speaking (ACAMS) which was instrumental in CatholicSG Radio being able to offer Mandarin talks and reflections, as well as Mandarin and prayers in dialect.
Arising from the efforts of Fr Julian Mariaratnam OFM, we are also able to make available Tamil prayers and reflections on our digitial stream. Another strong collaboration was our partnership with the Office for the New Evangelisation (ONE) to bring about the audio version of reflections for the liturgical seasons, beginning with the Advent series then the one for Lent. We have since become ONE’s radio partner in promulgating their faith formation sessions on streaming and podcast modes.
Looking back, bringing about CatholicSG Radio has been an interesting journey. We are blessed in being able to connect with the many people who have made us what we are today, as an online digital streaming platform.
Most of all, we are grateful to you our listeners and our radio volunteers who have made it possible for us to do this streaming initiative. This is truly reflective of what CatholicSG Radio is – Touching hearts and Enlightening minds!