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Since March 2020, Catholic-inspired radio stations in Brazil have been facing a new challenge. Following the crisis generated by the pandemic, broadcasters overall have experienced a shortage of operational resources as key advertisers withdraw from programming due to their own finances during the health crisis.
This phenomenon has intensified the financial emergency for radio stations and has led to job losses throughout the industry. The pandemic has been the culmination of a Brazilian radio broadcasting crisis which has been underway for a few years due to the decline in investment in the medium from commercial enterprises and public funders.
Aside from the pandemic, the industry also faces the challenge of new advertising trends for entrepreneurs and governments, particularly with a shift to Internet ads. Another unfortunate reason seems to be that journalism that focuses on environmental issues, indigenous rights, poverty, and other social justice issues seems to be to alienate investors, especially governments. The main attribute of Catholic radio stations in Brazil is the commitment to telling the truth. This often goes against the economic and political interests of those in power. All of has led to the sense that Catholic radio is experiencing some dark times: some radio stations are closing down because they are no longer viable, while others are being sold.
The role of the Catholic Radio Network
The Catholic Radio Network (RCR) is an association of radio stations linked to Catholic institutions, such as archdioceses, dioceses, religious congregations, and lay associations. RCR represents radio sector in SIGNIS Brazil. Its role is to find ways for stations to continue evangelizing and to commit to the creation of a fair and humane society.
In addition to unifying the Church in Brazil through the radio, the RCR aims to promote communion among broadcasters by sharing the challenges of the current reality, always respecting the great diversity of country as large as Brazil and the unique character of each region.
A Journalism of Communion and Sharing
Two main tools are currently being used for exchanges between the stations of the Catholic Radio Network and to promote communion: the RCR website, where stations share journalistic and evangelizing audio-content, and Jornal Brasil Hoje (JBH), a 30-minute daily program broadcast online Monday through Friday. JBH is produced with the collaboration of many people, including reporters from Catholic radio stations from the five regions of Brazil, and is generated by Cultura FM Radio, in Guarapuava, State of Paran . JBH is distributed to other RCR stations via the Internet.
Light in darkness
If it’s true that we currently face some challenges, we must also consider our opportunities.
Social isolation has made people rediscover radio. Several stations have reported that audiences have increased considerably, even among demographics who did not seem to show prior interest in radio, such as children and young people.
This has prompted companies to begin to advertise once more, so we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Even during difficult times, Catholic-inspired radio in Brazil will continue to be committed to Jesus Christ, communicating the faith and promoting the values of a more just and peaceful society.