MADISON -- How many times do you hear teenagers talking about monstrances on the radio?
I don’t think this topic would come up on most radio shows for young people. But it was one of the topics discussed on an episode of USA Young Catholic, a brand new show airing on Relevant Radio 1240.
USA Young Catholic is a program for Catholic kids, by Catholic kids being produced at the Madison Catholic radio station. It’s a 30-minute show, airing Saturday afternoons at 1:30 p.m. It’s also currently playing in several other Wisconsin markets.
Kids came up with concept
The concept of USA Young Catholic took root in March 2009, when a group of about eight Madison homeschoolers got together with Relevant Radio 1240 Operations Manager Chris Reitz to start a “kids’ show.”
“The whole idea of the project was to get the kids to come up with a half-hour radio show that kids would be interested in,” Reitz said. “Much as I hate to admit it, at age 25, I’m not a kid anymore, and who can say better what kids want to hear than the kids themselves?”
The kids came up with concepts for show segments, opening and closing scripts, bumper music, and they even chose the name of the show. The kids also do most of the production during a show.
“My job is just to sit down and talk a bit between segments,” Reitz said. “The kids do pretty much everything else.”
It’s a lot of fun
A 14-year-old Madison area boy is one of the young people involved in the new show. Ben Yanke, son of Jill and Dave Yanke of Cottage Grove and a member of the Holy Family Homeschoolers, did an internship with Relevant Radio this year. He has also been one of the station’s volunteers.
Yanke is the board operator for USA Young Catholic. “The first show started out pretty rocky, but over the summer, it’s been sounding better and better,” said Yanke.
Even though the show’s topics can be serious, Yanke says that he and the other kids involved have a lot of fun putting the show together. “Once in awhile, one person starts laughing and that gets everyone else going. At least we still can edit the show before it goes out,” he said.
For those who’ve missed the first shows, they can be heard on the Relevant Radio Web site (www.relevantradio.com) or go to Google and type in “USA Young Catholic.”
How it’s put together
The show features kid-oriented talk about faith (and fun!) with segments like news (a recent episode featured St. Gianna Molla’s son Pierluigi coming to speak in the area), the Word of the Day (for example, “monstrance”), and even a Joke of the Day (When asked why the chicken crossed the road, Colonel Sanders responded, “I missed one?!”)
“A typical studio session is a lot of fun,” Reitz said. “It usually starts with deciding what we’re going to talk about, in between stories and jokes about anything ranging from whose family just had a new baby to an argument (which hasn’t been resolved yet) about whether the Star Wars movies were good or not.”
After the plan for the show is laid out, recording begins. After the show, the kids usually bring some sort of treat, and everyone sits around talking or watching Weird Al’s Yoda song on YouTube.
“The whole challenge that all of us really enjoy is that we want to have a lot of fun on air, but at the same time, certain things don’t work on radio,” Reitz reflected. “Here’s a classic example: one of the girls stuck a name tag on her forehead during a show because I kept forgetting her name. Hilarious in real life, but because we were on radio, I had to stop and tell the audience that Bridget just stuck a sign on her head.
“We also have to be careful of getting too funny. In real life, if someone in the group has a 60-second laughing fit, that’s okay. But a minute of giggling doesn’t come off too well on radio!”
So what’s next for USA Young Catholic? “Well, we all got pretty excited when we got permission to put the show on Relevant Radio 93.9/92.9 FM in the Stevens Point area, 1050 AM in Eau Claire, and 1570 AM in LaCrosse,” said Reitz.
“I think the next step is going to be to get more groups involved. From the beginning, people have been asking me if their kids can participate. I think now that we’ve got the show started and the bugs ironed out, it’s time to bring those other kids in.”
When asked if he’s gotten any comments from other kids about the show, Yanke said, “The number one response I’ve gotten when spreading the word about the show is, ‘Lucky you!’”
Other kids involved in USA Young Catholic include Nicole Bishop, Zach Galvin, Anna Marie Leone, Bridget Ruhle, Madison Skalsky, and Sam Yanke.
For more information, or if your child, aged nine to 14, is interested in participating in USA Young Catholic, call Chris Reitz at 608-833-7888 or e-mail him at