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 | By Joey Reistroffer

Catholic Radio in SC Marks 20 Years of Broadcasting

“If Jesus was alive today, he would have his own podcast,” according to Gary Towery, president of Mediatrix SC, Inc. He would know — Towery has been the key figure in spreading Catholic radio across this state for 20 years, but it wasn’t always this way.

Michael Brennan, vice president who runs day to day operations for Mediatrix, said it all changed when donors spearheaded efforts to raise funds for a small station in Charleston. WQIZ went on-air July 4, 2003, and broadcast programs provided by Mother Angelica’s EWTN. 

“I didn’t know anything about radio, but I knew I wanted a station in the Upstate,” Towery said.

The retired businessman came on board to help spread God’s word across the Palmetto State.

“In 2004, he knocked on every door,” Brennan said of Towery’s efforts. “The donors, they all came together to make Greer possible,” and WCKI came on-air Oct. 13, 2004, serving the greater Greenville/Spartanburg area.

“Even though Gary and I get a lot of the credit, priests, private donors and Catholic businesses have supported Catholic radio from the beginning,” Brennan said.

“In the early years, we got many calls, many horrible calls,” Towery said. “Twenty years ago, there used to be a visible anti-Catholic mindset in South Carolina.”

That has changed as God’s message has hit the air one station at a time across the state. Towery, Brennan and the Mediatrix team mapped out 11 Catholic population centers.

“We wanted to put Catholic radio where the major clusters of Catholics were,” Towery said.

“In the early years, I traveled all around the state. It was very exciting to visit all these parishes,” he said.

The largest clusters were in Charleston, Beaufort and Savannah. The second largest clusters were in the Upstate, Towery added. Then, Mediatrix targeted Florence and the smaller parishes.

“We focused on these sites, and God’s hand took over,” he said. “It’s amazing. I always ask God to put people in my life who can help me, and God put Michael in my path,” Towery said.

Brennan recalled, “I was semi-retired, and Gary and I just stopped and talked, and he said, ‘You should come out to Catholic radio and see what’s going on.’ A year later, we connected again. Then in February 2008, I started trying to help a little bit.”

The Difference

At first, Towery and Brennan wondered whether anybody was listening.

“Then we would get a call from someone who said how Catholic radio had helped them,” Brennan said. “There have been people who have been on the brink. You never know how the Holy Spirit will use Catholic radio to change somebody’s life.”

He recalls a mother of eight who phoned in and said that she had fallen away from the Church but came back because of Catholic radio.

It even helped Brennan.

“I became culturally Catholic for about 15 years. I just wasn’t practicing,” he said.

He began listening to apologists Steve Wood and Scott Hahn, and that is when he realized he needed “to go back to church, to go to confession, to participate more and to be a real Catholic,” Brennan said.

Towery credits Brennan for the expansion of Catholic radio across the state, plus prayer and the dedication of those praying for their success. One other important component is a chapel built into the station in Greer. Brennan said it’s a critical part of everything they do. The chapel was blessed after it opened and wonderful things began to happen, according to Towery.

“I think that chapel has been key to this whole thing,” he added.

“We encourage listeners to come in,” Brennan said. “I’m willing to come back and open the door so they can spend time in the chapel with God.”

The Expansion

Brennan has a background in corporate marketing and advertising, and said he had been involved in music production and recording. It was perfect for what Towery needed. The first remote broadcast of a Mass occurred on Sept. 14, 2008, from Prince of Peace Church in Taylors. Catholic radio also held live broadcasts of the ordinations of Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone on March 25, 2009, and Bishop Jacques Fabre-Jeune, CS, on May 13, 2022.

Mediatrix has also helped Catholic schools and other Catholic organizations apply for Low Power FM stations. Seven were eventually licensed: WSEJ at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Spartanburg; WFOC at the Columbus Club in Florence; WROP at the Basilica of St. Peter in Columbia; WXJP at John Paul II in Bluffton/Hilton Head; WGWY at Monsignor Gwynn Knights of Columbus in Simpsonville; WZJO at St. Joseph Church in Columbia; and WMHE was moved to Bishop England High School in Charleston.

Progress continued as Mediatrix applied for and received the license for two translators, which are repeater signals.

“These allow you to broadcast your AM signal as an FM signal,” Towery said. 

People can now hear God’s word loud and clear, but the Mediatrix team refuses to rest on its laurels. They are working to keep up with technology and put out even more content.

In October of 2022, the team rolled out the MediaTrix app, which features 12 portals with podcasts and blog posts that deal with everything Catholic, from history and culture to apologetics and prayer.

“Now you can hear us anywhere, anytime. And there is such a variety,” Towery said.

It can be downloaded for free in the Apple App or Google Play stores, Brennan said. In only four months, it has garnered 15,000 downloads. 

“Those podcasts are interesting. I’m addicted to them,” Towery said. “I don’t read many books anymore because of them. It’s hard to say which is my favorite, but I like Father (Dwight) Longenecker. I also like Father (Jeffrey) Kirby,” Towery said.

God’s word on the airwaves has come a long way in South Carolina. It started with one small station on the coast and now it has a bright, broad future.

“All you have to do is get connected to the internet,” Towery said. “We’ve wanted to do this for a long time. Everything you hear on the radio you can now hear on this app. We’ve arrived.”

Catholic radio has made giant strides across this state in 20 years. 

And it happened because “God wanted Catholic radio in South Carolina,” Towery said.

Joseph Reistroffer is a long-time writer who teaches religious education classes at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Spartanburg. Email him at