K-YES radio changes lives on the air, behind the scenes

Every day, Kelly Corbett sets the alarm on her phone for 3 p.m. It’s her daily reminder to tune in and listen to the live “Chaplet of Divine Mercy” on K-YES radio.

Kelly Corbett is the development director for Gabriel Media. (Dianne Towalski / The Central Minnesota Catholic)

“There is something so very powerful about praying together with people all over the country,” she said. “People call in with prayer requests that just grip your heart. It’s beautiful to pray together and feel a part of something bigger than just me.”

Corbett has been working as development director for Gabriel Media, the parent company of K-YES, for the past three years and appreciates the freedom to talk about her faith at work.

“We start all meetings in prayer and constantly challenge ourselves and one another to keep our eyes on God’s will, not our own,” she said. “I’m in a place in my life where I get to live out my faith in all I do: at home, with my family, at church, at our kids’ school and at work. I don’t have to take one hat off and put another on. … It’s simply who I am. That is a gift to be able to share in all the circles I’m in.”

Corbett applied for her job because she is an avid listener of Spirit 92.9, the contemporary Christian music station that is also part of Gabriel Media. It was through her interview that she discovered K-YES Catholic talk radio and “Chaplet of Divine Mercy.”

“It’s just really powerful,” she said. “I don’t know how long it took before I wasn’t crying, I would cry every time I listened.”

The “Chaplet of Divine Mercy,” one of the most popular programs on K-YES, is part of the programming on the station that comes nationally from Relevant Radio. The central Minnesota station is an affiliate station of the Relevant Radio network, based in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

“Working at Gabriel Media has strengthened my faith,” she said. “I’ve grown in ways I couldn’t have imagined. To be a part of a mission that helps people grow in their faith and in their relationship with Jesus is truly a gift. You can’t help but grow yourself.”

General manager Deb Huschle agrees. She previously worked as business manager at WJON radio in St. Cloud and came to Gabriel Media to manage Spirit 92.9 in 2005.

“Just to work in an environment where everybody is passionate about their faith … it just inevitably makes you a better person,” she said. “Even though Spirit was nondenominational, I grew so much because of that, and that’s been a benefit that I didn’t even think of when I made the switch.”

Glen Lewerenz serves as a co-host and morning news anchor on Relevant Radio and also records “Conversations with Glen,” a local show that airs twice daily on K-YES. (Dianne Towalski/ The Central Minnesota Catholic)

“It’s very much a family feeling amongst the staff,” said Glen Lewerenz, host of “Morning Air” on Relevant Radio and “Conversations with Glen,” a local program on K-YES.

Lewerenz, who grew up Lutheran, worked in Christian music radio for several years before moving to Relevant Radio 18 years ago. The atmosphere there prompted him to learn more about Catholicism.

He absorbed a lot of what he was hearing on the station, and he and his coworkers would regularly pray the chaplet and rosary as a staff, he said.

“I gradually started doing more, learning more, and eventually it was just the call to be more involved,” he said. “I would say definitely working at Relevant Radio was a pull to learn more about the faith.”

George Sjogren, right, and Kevin Dockendorf, left, record their weekly show “Maturing Disciples” in the K-YES studio with the help of Gabriel Media’s creative services director, Josh Svendsen. (photo by Dianne Towalski/The Central Minnesota Catholic)

After starting his career in music radio, Lewerenz said he likes being on the talk side. “I like to hear new people … the interview aspect of it I enjoy quite a lot,” he said. “I could interview people all day long.”

[Catholic talk radio] is a good tool to help people build their faith outside of their local parish, he said. And the feedback they get at the station shows that they are making an impact. “We are humbled by that and grateful for the opportunity,” Lewerenz said.

Father Matthew Crane, who is a weekly guest on “Conversations with Glen,” says he also is grateful for the opportunity to participate in this ministry.

There are many challenges in ministry today, said Father Crane, who sees “the dedicated evangelical activity” of K-YES as a pure, bright light in the midst of all that. “Sometimes, a priest just wants to get down to spreading the Gospel and, for 30 minutes a week, I get to do just that, plain and simple,” he said.

Father Crane, pastor of St. Wendelin in Luxemburg, Holy Cross in Pearl Lake and St. Mary Help of Christians in St. Augusta, is one of a handful of local priests and lay people from the diocese who contribute to the local programming on K-YES. Most of it comes from Relevant Radio, but local programming is very important to the station’s listeners.

“They like the network, but they really do want to hear that priest that they know,” Huschle said.

“I greatly appreciate having local Catholic radio,” said Laura Koski, a listener and board member of K-YES. “Listening to K-YES has greatly enriched my faith, especially with the daily rosary and conversations with our local priests on various topics that are the fabric of our faith.”

Koski, a member of St. Mary’s Cathedral Parish in St. Cloud, tunes in weekly to hear her pastor, Father Scott Pogatchnik, talk with Lewerenz on “Conversations with Glen.” She said she also likes tuning into the daily Mass from St. Mary’s if she can’t make it in person. The Mass is recorded and replayed daily at 7:30 p.m.

“K-YES is so much more than a Catholic radio station,” Koski said. “It’s a resource, available 24/7 through the app or website and is a great landing page to just listen to when you desire the Lord to speak to your heart. I sit quietly and let the Lord touch me through the words of the many holy men and women of our Catholic faith on K-YES, who like me, desire to better love and serve him each day.”


K-YES expands reach with radio station purchase

Andy Hilger, who started K-YES radio in 2009, died in 2013 and is honored at each annual banquet. This year it will be held Oct. 1.

When Andy Hilger started K-YES radio back in 2009, it was his vision to provide the entire Diocese of St. Cloud with access to Catholic talk radio. With the recent purchase of an AM radio station in Verndale in southern Wadena County, the station is one step closer to that goal. The K-YES signal will now reach all 16 counties of the diocese.

Hilger started his radio career in 1958 as a night DJ on WJON Radio in St. Cloud. He worked his way up at the station, purchasing it in 1965 and adding FM stations WWJO, KMXK and KKJM over the years.

He sold three of his stations in 1999, but kept contemporary Christian station KKJM Spirit 92.9, later donating it to the Diocese of St. Cloud and volunteering to serve as its manager for five years.

But what Hilger really wanted was to build a Catholic talk radio station.

“He felt like with his radio background and his Catholic faith, he was called to do that,” said Deb Huschle, general manager of Gabriel Media, the parent company of K-YES radio.

“He had to get that Catholic radio station on the air.”

He looked for an existing station to buy, but nothing that was available would reach far enough. He looked at other options and realized that if he wanted to cover the entire diocese, he had to build it from the ground up, Huschle said. So, he purchased a construction permit to build the original K-YES 50,000-watt AM station.

“For him to find a full-power 50,000-watt AM license was quite miraculous,” said Glen Lewerenz, host of “Morning Air” on Relevant Radio and “Conversations with Glen,” on K-YES. “It was quite an engineering feat because there just aren’t that many spaces on the dial.”

The 250-watt FM station 93.5 was added later and expanded the potential reach of the station by 50,000 people.

Now, with the purchase of KKSK-AM 1070 and its FM translator 101.3 FM, an existing 10,000-watt station, K-YES has the potential to reach nearly 750,000 people with Catholic talk programming, Huschle said.

The purchase of KKSK from Verndale Broadcasting LLC, based in Park Rapids, includes a transmitter building, equipment and towers. The station was being run remotely and will continue that way with K-YES, so no new staff will be hired. The station is expected to be on-air in October.

“It’s a great source of catechesis and a great source to learn about the faith,” Lewerenz said. “More stations, better signal, we can reach more souls.”

Each year, Gabriel Media/K-YES Radio honors Hilger, who died in 2013, by awarding the Andy Hilger Throw Fire Award during the annual K-YES benefit banquet. “The award is given to someone who has worked with extraordinary dedication to bring the Good News and hope of Christ to all souls,” Huschle said. “They exemplify the virtues of charity, generosity, hope, apostolic zeal and love for the truth.”

The 10th annual K-YES benefit banquet was Oct. 1 at the Gorecki Center at the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph. Patrick Madrid, author and host of “The Patrick Madrid Show” on Relevant Radio, was the event’s keynote speaker.


LISTEN IN: K-YES programming is available live on AM 1180 or FM 93.5; listen to archived programs anytime at www.kyesradio.com or on the mobile app.

Author: Dianne Towalski

Dianne Towalski is a multimedia reporter for The Central Minnesota Catholic Magazine.

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