Three pro-life crusaders have launched an Internet radio network dedicated solely to the pro-life cause. It’s called National Pro-Life Radio, and its motto says it all: “All Pro-Life! All the Time!”
NPLR is based in Baltimore, but, thanks to the wonders of the Web, it can be heard ’round the world.
The seeds of the network were planted in 1997, when Paul Schenck was pastor of Bishop Cummings Reformed Episcopalian Church in Cantonsville, Md. Later, he would leave his clerical position: He, his wife and their eight children became Catholics in 2004.
Rob McQuay, an actor involved in local theater, served at the Episcopalian parish as youth minister and pastoral associate. He and Schenk worked side by side on a number of pro-life initiatives.
One day in 1999, Schenck was driving in Baltimore when a pro-life commercial came over the radio. The ad was sponsored by a local law office, Peroutka and Peroutka.
“I was astounded that there was a pro-life ad on secular radio being sponsored by a law office,” recalls Schenck. “I had to call. I got Steve Peroutka on the phone, and we became friends that day.”
At the time, attorney Steve Peroutka had been hosting his own pro-life radio show in Annapolis, Md., for nearly a decade.
Fast-forward to summer 2005. That’s when Schenck and Peroutka decided to “go national” with their passion for the pro-life cause.
“We were mutually concerned and frustrated with the lack of interest and accuracy when it came to pro-life issues in the national media — and the sheer cost of accessing media directly,” says Schenck. “It became clear to us that the Internet provided a platform to directly go to the public at a minimal cost.”
With McQuay handling the day-to-day operations and technical aspects of the broadcast, all from Peroutka’s law office in Pasadena, Md., these three friends debuted National Pro-Life Radio in October 2006. Schenck also serves as executive director of the National Pro-Life Action Center on Capitol Hill; Peroutka is chairman of its board of governors.
Schenck is quick to admit that the operation’s start was rough and tumble.
“We had no idea what we were getting into,” he says. “We were moving into a medium that was much more demanding than anything any one of us had used the Internet for. Putting on 12 hours a day of programming in all different formats was quite a challenge.”
With his many years of experience in the pro-life movement, Peroutka had no problem attracting hosts to fill the network’s daily programming. More than a dozen quickly came on board.
Many of these “recruits,” like Janet Folger, president of the evangel-ical-Protestant ministry Faith2Action.org, were already established in pro-life ministries and media. Her hour-long program “Faith 2 Action” is heard each afternoon on NPLR.
“I’m thrilled to be a part of the National Pro-Life Radio network,” Folger says, “because it turns up the volume for all of us who are committed to being a voice for the voiceless. It’s critically important that we continue until children are protected again.”
Peroutka’s vision from the start was to bring together the “movers and shakers of the pro-life world.”
In Schenck’s opinion, they’ve got them. From prenatal questions to end-of-life issues, he points out, NPLR’s programming hits all the points along the cycle-of-life continuum. The lineup includes several hours each day of live interactive shows presenting a mix of opinions with one thing in common: They’re all pro-life.
“We wanted a vigorous conversation between members of the pro-life movement,” explains Schenck, “as well as with the general public.”
While the network is ecumenical by design, the Catholic faith is well represented.
Father Frank Pavone, director of Priests for Life, hosts a daily half-hour show called “Life on the Line.” He also worked with Schenck to launch the network.
“The pro-life movement does not only need media; it needs media it can control,” says Father Pavone. “The message of abortion — even more than the message about other issues of key moral concern — is particularly subject to distortion and censorship.”
The longtime champion of life adds that the pro-life movement “needs a vehicle through which it can express the truth about abortion in a way that is clear, accurate and complete — no matter how many people it may upset in the process. National Pro-Life Radio accomplishes all of this.”
All those involved at NPLR hope to expand their work beyond online broadcasting. Some of that work is already underway.
The network’s website, NPLR.net, includes news stories and commentary, as well as a long list of pro-life links and resources.
In addition, NPLR has done several live video casts of pro-life events, including the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C.
In early March, the network aired live radio coverage from a pro-life rally held in Maryland’s capital city, Annapolis.
McQuay hopes to present more such events. “I would hope that, one day, we could offer a live Internet broadcast to any march or statewide pro-life event,” he says.
He is also looking to expand NPLR’s listening audience. So far, the listener count has been decidedly modest, but no one involved with the work is discouraged by the slow pace of growth.
In fact, Peroutka sees signs pointing to Internet-based radio as the “wave of the future.” He cites as evidence the considerable cash large radio stations and networks are putting into their own webcasts. “I think there will be a time soon,” he says, “when people will listen to the Internet in the car.”
Whether that future is one year away or 10, the pro-life crusaders behind NPLR hope to be there. They want to be, in the words of Peroutka, a shot in the arm for those who perhaps feel alone in the fight for life.
“I hope that NPLR becomes a force, where people know that something good is occurring here and you are not alone in the fight,” says Peroutka. “We want people to know that NPLR is here to back them up.”
Eddie O’Neill writes from
Green Bay, Wisconsin.
ON THE WEB National Pro-Life Radio NPLR.net