Cross-shaped antenna a visible sign for radio station

Anne Marie Amacher
Bishop Thomas Zinkula offers a blessing of the new radio tower, right photo, near Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport May 20. Also part of the ceremony were Father Thom Hennen, pastor of the cathedral; Brian Porter, John Oliger and Adam Nelson.

By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

DAVENPORT — A cross-shaped radio tower stands 98 feet high, making a distinct presence in the skyline just east of Sacred Heart Cathedral’s spire. Bishop Thomas Zinkula christened the new KTJT broadcast tower May 20.

Supporters of the Catholic radio station walked over to the site after Mass at the cathedral, which owns the property. “The Holy Spirit is blowing out here. That is a good sign,” Bishop Zinkula said during the windy christening.

“The mission of the church — the mission of the baptized — is to share the Good News of Jesus Christ, to announce the reign of God, in word and deed,” the bishop said, reading from the Book of Blessings. “Technology is a tool, a means to an end. If it is used properly, it can be a blessing in our work of evangelization. But if we are not discerning, it also can become a source of division, and a way to spread falsehoods and conspiracies.”


The bishop said all who were present had gathered to pray for the work of KTJT-LP Quad Cities Catholic Radio and to give thanks to everyone who made construction of the new tower possible. They also invoked the intercession of Saints Gabriel and Michael, God’s messengers; St. Maximillian Kolbe, who was an amateur radio hobbyist; and St. Mary Magdalene, the first to announce the good news of the resurrection.

A reading from the Gospel of Luke and intercessions followed. After­wards, Bishop Zinkula sprinkled holy water at the base of the tower and, demonstrating his trademark humor, attempted to send some of the holy water airborne to the top of the tower. He walked over to the satellite dish and broadcast “shed” to bless those components, too.

Catholic radio supporters returned to the cathedral’s Great Hall for a talk, video and food. Brian Porter, president of KTJT, said the station had been located near Davenport West High School since 2006. However, the signal was not strong and the board expressed a desire to find a new location. “The first tower only transmitted about a half mile. It was disappointing.”

Porter worked with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to boost the translator to rebroadcast farther — but the previous tower was too far away from the repeater tower at Scott Com­munity College’s Bett­­­endorf campus. That tower helps broadcast 20-30 miles, he noted. “The signal is more reliable.”

About five years ago, Porter began dreaming about moving the radio station’s tower to a central part of Davenport. He liked the area near Sacred Heart Cathedral but open property was not available.

Then one day he drove by and saw the open lots. He wondered who owned the land and whether the site would meet the criteria for a new antenna. When he learned that Sacred Heart Cathedral owned the property, he met with the cathedral’s pastor at the time, Father Rich Adam. “Father Rich saw the value of the station.” Porter worked with the FCC and City of Davenport to prepare for the new tower relocation. The only requirement was to conceal the transmitter so it didn’t look like an antenna. “We had to camouflage it.” That inspired the cross-shaped design.

After two weather delays, Veenstra Con­struc­tion of Oskaloosa assembled the cross and erected it on Holy Thursday this year. Cost for the project was about $86,000 and required a “leap of faith” for the organization. Listeners and other donors have helped pay for a portion of the project.

KTJT-LP is affiliated with Relevant Radio. Local broadcast segments include youths’ interviews of priests from the Diocese of Davenport and the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois. “Every priest has a story,” said Ginger Arnold of KTJT. Regional events also are promoted on the station locally.

Listen to KTJT-LP on 95.3 FM and 103.1 FM. An app is available to listen to the station as well.

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