Established by Guglielmo Marconi and inaugurated by Pope Pius XI in 1931, Vatican Radio, the broadcasting station of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church, aims to bring the Papal voice to all parts of the world.
Vatican Radio's shortwave service and first class equipment allow it to broadcast to far-flung continents like Africa and Asia. A powerful transmitter on the outskirts of Rome means the signal can come through as loud and clear in Vladivostok in Russia as in downtown Rome.
British journalist Peter Hebblethwaite says while Vatican Radio's domestic Italian offerings can be sycophantic and excessive the real value of the station is an ability to reach countries where radio is still very important.
Twice daily, Vatican Radio broadcasts half hour programmes and mass every Sunday, to mainland China, reaching a vast number of people who for 33 years have had of no contact with Rome. According to the Controller of Programmes at Vatican Radio Pasquale Borgomeo,
It's very paradoxical because national church in China celebrates mass in Latin, still in Latin, we from Rome, we broadcast a mass in Chinese.
The 250 strong full and part time staff of Vatican Radio are drawn from all six continents and the station broadcasts in 33 languages. Many of the full-time staff have technical backgrounds while the part-time staff are predominantly priests and nuns, as well as highly motivated lay people.
Unlike secular radio stations, Vatican Radio does not have a licence fee or an advertising revenue stream. Nevertheless Director General of Vatican Radio Father Roberto Tucci believes Vatican Radio is very economical when compared to the BBC,
I discovered times ago last year that when they wanted to cut down the budget of the external services of the BBC that we were spending twenty times less than the BBC.
‘Radharc: News From The Vatican’ was broadcast on 13 July 1981. The presenter is Tom Stack.