The (Holy) Spirit of Radio

Steve Lee had no idea what he was doing. 

It was a Monday morning in July. He’d just arrived at work and was sitting in his car in the parking lot. A moment earlier he’d punched some numbers into his cellphone. Now it was ringing. 

A voice came on the other end. It was a deep voice. Resonant.

Steve recognized it as the one that had been coming out of the speakers a moment before: “If you think the Lord might be calling you to bring Catholic radio to your community, give me a call.”

For reasons Steve still doesn’t really understand, he did. 

“Hello, this is Jack Williams,” said the voice, which belonged to the head of EWTN Catholic Radio. Steve hesitated. Silence. “Hello?” said the voice again.

“Hi, Jack. My name is Steve. I don’t really know why I’m calling you.” 

The two men talked for a while and figured it out. Steve, a 47-year-old Ridgefield resident, heard himself tell Jack that he felt called to start a Catholic radio station in Connecticut. Jack talked him through the steps for making that happen.

When Steve hung up, he was confused. What was going on? Where had this come from? 

That night he started a novena. “I asked the Lord for two things,” he said. “Number one, please let me know if I should be getting involved with this. Should I be trying to start a Catholic radio station? And number two, Lord, if you truly want me to do this, please bring some people into my life who can help.”

Steve went back to his regular routine. Before getting into bed he’d pray, asking God for the same two things.

A few nights in, he figured he should tell his wife, Roula, what he was praying for. 

“When did you lose your mind?” she asked. 

Steve didn’t have a good answer, but he assured her that he’d tried to shake the radio-station idea. It was refusing to be shaken.

Roula said she was on board, with one condition: “If you’re serious about this, you need to speak to a priest.” 

Steve called a friend, Fr. Paul Check, who said he thought the idea was a good one. Prayer number one answered.

Fr. Check then put him in touch with his brother, Christopher, who runs Catholic Answers, a national apologetics outfit with a big footprint in digital media, radio, and publishing. Prayer number two answered. 

With God throwing up green light after green light, Steve hit the books. He started researching the business of running a nonprofit radio station. Next thing he knew he was attending a Catholic radio conference in Georgia. 

“It was like I was drinking from the firehose. I wanted to be as prepared as possible. And then I wake up and I’m like, ‘What am I doing? I’ve got a job. I’ve got a mortgage. I don’t have any experience.’ ”

It was decision time. Roula, who only months before had strongly implied to Steve that he’d maybe gone loco, now encouraged him to lean on his faith: “Just keep going and see what happens.”

Steve took the plunge. He left his job and founded Veritas Catholic Network. He started raising money.

Every time it seemed like there wouldn’t be enough, something or someone came through. Every time he needed a benefactor to walk into his life, the Lord made it happen.

“I’m nobody,” Steve insists. “And yet God has done some pretty awesome stuff for this to come about. It’s definitely the Holy Spirit at work.”

The truth is: Steve’s not nobody. He’s a New Canaan native and Boston College grad who earned an MBA at UConn and spent a dozen years working for big money on Wall Street.

He and Roula have three children. That alone makes him somebody in my book.

In December 2018, more than a year after his parking lot moment, Steve plunked down a not insignificant sum to buy a local radio station, WNLK-AM 1350, and a “translator” that will one day put the station on FM 103.9. The Federal Communications Commission approved his broadcast application.

On Aug. 21, 2019, Steve flipped the switch and Veritas went live. The station mostly features EWTN content for now. Its flagship production is “Let Me Be Frank,” Steve’s one-hour weekly conversation with Bishop Caggiano airing Wednesdays at noon. You can also download it as a podcast.

Here comes the commercial: Bishop Frank, as you know, is a great teacher and wonderful talker. He’s funny, inspiring, thought-provoking, and—surprise, surprise—knows his subject matter. He and Steve are a companionable pair.

I never miss an episode.

Veritas is hoping to launch a second original program soon. It will be aimed at teenagers. The ultimate goal is to get a morning drive-time show going.

That’s good. Faithful Catholics in Fairfield County deserve a healthier option than the trash talk, dirty jokes, and smutpop that typically rule the airwaves.

Steve Lee’s humility may be why the Lord selected him for the job of bringing Catholic radio to the Bridgeport Diocese. God always has his antennae up for “nobodies.”

From the May 2020 edition of Fairfield County Catholic.

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