By JOANNE FOX
Catholic radio will host a devotee of one of the best Catholic thinkers of the 20th century during the station’s annual fall pledge drive.
Dale Ahlquist, president of the American Chesterton Society – which promotes all things associated with author G.K. Chesterton – will be on the air from noon to 1 p.m. on Nov. 16.
From 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Nov. 14-16, listeners will have the chance to show their support of Channel 88.1FM, KFHC in Ponca and Sioux City and KOIA in Storm Lake by making a financial contribution.
Ahlquist is one of more than 30 guests over the three days, who will be interviewed by several hosts, including Fathers Mark Stoll and Brad Pelzel.
The American Chesterton Society, founded in 1996, works to promote interest in Gilbert Keith (almost always referenced to as G.K.) Chesterton.
A convert to the Catholic Church, Chesterton wrote more than 100 books during his lifetime and published more than 5,000 essays in newspapers and magazines, Ahlquist pointed out.
“Chesterton is one of the most quoted writers in the English language, yet one of the least studied,” he said. “He wrote about the issues we struggle with today – social injustice, assaults on religion, attacks on the family and on the dignity of the human person.”
Ahlquist is creator and host of the EWTN series The Apostle of Common Sense, and he is the author of three books on Chesterton. Raised as a Baptist, Ahlquist gave credit to Chesterton for his conversion to Catholicism in 1997.
“I loved C.S. Lewis,” he said, referring to the author who also converted because of Chesterton.
“One day, a friend told me if I liked Lewis, I would love Chesterton,” Ahlquist continued. “I picked up Everlasting Man and discovered there was no better writer or thinker than Chesterton. I even did my master’s thesis on him.”
Chesterton’s lack of celebrity status – like humorists Mark Twain and Will Rogers – might be due to the topics he addressed, but unlikely had to do with him residing in England, Ahlquist mused.
“Chesterton was well-known in his day and had sold-out audiences when he came to the United States,” he said. “A lot of his essays appeared in American publications.”
Ahlquist pointed to several reasons why the author “fell off the map” following his death in 1936.
“Chesterton wrote about the Catholic Church and Christianity in secular media and that isn’t well-received in today’s academia,” he said. “Also, he wrote in such different genres, such as poetry, novels and newspapers, that he can’t be pigeon-holed into our education system that can’t handle someone who isn’t known for one thing.”
The goal of the pledge drive is $75,000 to help with the station’s financial needs, explained John Fitzsimmons, president of St. Gabriel Communications, the board which oversees the station.
“Listening to Catholic radio absolutely can change your life,” he said. “I know, because listeners call or email or write the station.”
Each day the drive starts with the rosary, recited by Bishop Walker Nickless at 7 a.m. The Blessed Sacrament will be exposed in St. Gabriel’s Chapel – in Sioux City’s Benson Building – for adoration from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m., Nov. 14 and 16 and 8:30 a.m., Nov. 15.
The station has added to its local programming, broadcasting all Bishop Heelan High School football games. Bishop Nickless provides Meditations in a Minute. Father Mark Stoll reads the bishop’s letter from The Catholic Globe. Bishop Nickless will be interviewed from 4 to 5 p.m., Nov. 16.
Other guests include representatives from Briar Cliff University, Catholic Charities, Mercy Medical Center and Trinity Heights Queen of Peace.
Volunteers are needed during the pledge drive. Molly Sokolowski serves as the volunteer coordinator. To volunteer, call (712) 224-5342.
The pledge line, which will only be open Nov. 14-16, is (855) 875-5342. Donations may be mailed to the station at 705 Douglas St., Suite 238, Sioux City, IA 51101.
For a complete schedule of hosts and guests, visit fhcradio.com.