WEST BABYLON — When a psychologist and a businessman noticed the lack of Catholic AM radio shows on Long Island, they decided to do something about it.
Since January 2011, Dr. John Palmer, psychologist and diocesan coordinator for the Renewal Apostolate, and Dr. Anthony Ciuffo, businessman who has a Bible ministry at his parish, St. Catherine of Sienna, Franklin Square, have hosted “Listen Up: Jesus is on the Air,” over WGBB Radio 1240 A.M.
“We have to tell you, we love Jesus,” Ciuffo said at the opening of their show last Saturday. The show, which airs Saturdays at 10 a.m., features playful banter between the two hosts as well as serious discussion of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the lives of the saints, inspirational music, and intentions for prayers from their listeners.
“People like our banter,” which includes Ciuffo teasing Palmer about being “a control freak,” while Palmer kids Ciuffo about his height, said Ciuffo, former professor of business at Boricua College, Brooklyn, and owner of a food distribution company in Ridgewood, Queens. He also has Craft-A-Fair, which runs street fairs.
“Our show is fun,” Palmer added.
The two met a few years ago when Ciuffo and his wife went to a prayer meeting. Ciuffo said she was diagnosed with a rare and serious form of ovarian cancer.
“I prayed over her,” Palmer said, and got a sense in prayer that she would be all right. During surgery, surgeons found that the cancer was far less serious than they had originally diagnosed.
A friendship developed, and they wanted to evangelize together, noting that there are so few Catholic radio shows on Long Island.
“We really don’t know what we’re doing,” Palmer said with a smile, but the two decided to buy airtime on WGBB. Their show’s website is http://www.mariavaltortawebring.com/Pages/007_Palmer-Cuiffo.htm.
“We hope to touch souls, reaching at least one soul of someone who isn’t a believer once a week,” Ciuffo said.
“Or a fallen-away Catholic,” Palmer added. “I love what Bishop Murphy says about wanting Catholics to belong more deeply to Jesus.”
This past Saturday, Palmer announced “a surprise guest, the Holy Sprit,” proceeding to read the words that the Holy Sprit might say. “Those words came to me in prayer at 6 this morning,” Palmer said, and he typed them out to read on the air.
“It is so much fun for me to be able to talk to so many people at one time,” Palmer said, representing the voice of the Holy Spirit. “The last time I did that there were a group of scared people in an upper room,” referring to the Apostles.
“Boy, did that start things hopping,” Palmer continued. “You called that Pentecost. I call that day Get Out of Jail Free Day.”
He went on to express the idea that the Holy Sprit is eternal love dwelling in the heart of human beings to help everyone in all their personal struggles and sins.
Palmer also read from the Catechism about who the Holy Spirit is while Ciuffo discussed the life of St. Francis of Assisi, who he said followed the calling of the Holy Spirit even though it was contrary to what Francis had envisioned for his life.
Their guests are usually more visible. “We don’t go for big names” generally, Palmer said. “We go for people who are trying to live their faith and whose stories touch people’s hearts.”
The show also features music and prayers. On most weeks, they have a cross with the names of people and prayer intentions. Prayer requests can be e-mailed to them at firstname.lastname@example.org. “We have gotten a lot of responses,” Palmer said. “People have been touched.”
“One father whose daughter had cancer came to my place of business,” Ciuffo said, “to thank us for his daughter who had cancer and was cured.”
“We don’t know how many people listen to our show,” Palmer said.
“What we know is that more and more people come up to John and me at places where we speak,” Ciuffo said. “I think we’re growing.”