Fr. Rocky and Relevant Radio’s mission of ‘bringing Christ to the world’
Fr. Francis J. Hoffman (Fr. Rocky) is the executive director/CEO of Relevant Radio. In 1992, he was ordained as a priest for Opus Dei and he is a well-known author and speaker.
Fr. Rocky spoke with Catholic Digest about his ministry, Relevant Radio, and the network’s future that reaches 39 states with a potential audience of 133 million people.
Q: How did Relevant Radio get started? How did you get involved?
A: It was started by Catholic businessmen in Green Bay. The inspiration was Mother Angelica from EWTN.
In early December 2003, I had been invited to celebrate Mass for a group of Catholic men in Chicago. I met a fellow there and he invited me to be on the show on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, on Dec. 12.
Q: Why is Relevant Radio important in the world today?
A: It brings the knowledge and love of Christ wherever people are. Mostly, our listeners are in cars, stuck in traffic jams. If you live in or near a big city, which is 75 percent of Americans, you spend 10 times more in your car each week than you do in church. I like to say Relevant Radio is moving the masses to the Mass through the mass media.
Q: With the rise of podcasts, audio books, and other on-demand content, what is Relevant Radio doing to engage their listeners?
A: We were at the very start of using mobile apps and podcasts. We follow consumer consumption of media very closely so we know what the trends are. Our app has been downloaded over half a million times around the world. We are on air, online, and on demand.
Q: In your experience, what types of shows seem to resonate with people most?
A: They probably resonate the most with what they can listen to when they can listen to it. Close to a million people listen weekly during their commute. There is a significant population of young mothers at home who have it on their smart speaker; they really love listening to Patrick Madrid or the Divine Mercy Chaplet with Drew Mariani. People are very devoted to the “Family Rosary Across America,” which is live from Los Angeles.
Q: We often hear about how Relevant Radio brings people to conversion. How do you reach them in the first place?
A: Over half of our listeners discovered Relevant Radio either because they were scanning the dial of their radio station in their car, or somebody told them about it. Nine percent said they saw a bumper sticker. I always tell people if you ever rent a car, find the local Relevant Radio station and preset every button on the radio to that Relevant Radio station and somebody may discover it and get hooked. There have been a lot of Holy Spirit moments when people discover it at the moment they need to, and in some cases it literally saves their lives.
There have been a lot of Holy Spirit moments.
Q: What does a day in your life look like?
A: I am a member of Opus Dei and priest of Opus Dei so I have my daily plan of life. I am usually up by 5 a.m., I try to pray for a half hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament before celebrating Mass. Then I am working all day; phone calls, visiting people, answering emails, visiting various stations, listening to the station for quality control or praying the Rosary. There is no substitute for prayer.
Q: How did you feel a call to Opus Dei?
A: My religious formation throughout my high school years was through the Center of Opus Dei in Chicago. After about seven years involved in the activities of Opus Dei I had a sense God was calling me to give my whole life to God to serve the Church in Opus Dei. It is a great vocation.
Q: What does your community life look like given your position with Relevant Radio as executive director?
A: Since I travel a lot, I am not at my Center of Opus Dei in Chicago as much as I want to be. However, there are Centers of Opus Dei around the country, I will stay at some, and I feel completely at home. I get a lot of support, spiritual direction, confession.
Q: Can you explain how Relevant Radio is united to the bishops?
A: We have three guiding principles and the first informs everything we do.
- Faithful to the Magisterium and the Catechism of the Catholic Church
- United to the bishops
- Under the protective intercession of the Blessed Mother
If we are going to enter a market, we work with the local bishop and get his input and advice. We offer the local bishop an hour of free programming. We never criticize the bishops, or the people who work for them.
We work with the local bishop and get his input and advice.
Q: What are your goals for Relevant Radio?
A: My personal goal is to get out of the way and let God do the work. Early on when I was telling Bishop David Ricken in Green Bay about our hopes, dreams, and goals, he was very enthusiastic, but said “hold on to it lightly.” It is very important to be detached.
What I would like to see is for Relevant Radio to engage 3 million listeners for five hours a week. Why? Because that is about 10 percent of Catholics who go to Mass on any given Sunday. If we can form them, inspire them to frequent the sacraments, strengthen their family life, and to really walk with Jesus, they are going to change their families and their homes and that’s going to change their parish for the better. The parish can change the diocese and the Church in our country is going to change the world.
The Catholic Church needs to be robust, strong, happy, healthy, and holy in America to affect the rest of the world, and the media is a very important factor in achieving that.
Q: What is it about Relevant Radio that excites you? Are there any new initiatives coming up in the future that you are excited about?
A: Everything excites me! The Memorare is on air every hour for an end to abortion. I am a big believer in the power of that. We have opportunities to continue to grow in significant ways. It won’t be easy, God is asking us to take risks, and do a little walking on water, and so he’s got to make it happen, but we’re ready to get out of the boat and walk on the water if that’s what we need to do to come to Jesus.
The Catholic Church needs to be robust, strong, happy, healthy, and holy in America to affect the rest of the world.