Talking family and married life on the airwaves

By | November 12, 2009

ALLOUEZ — Relevant Radio host Wendy Wiese works with 15 to 20 different experts on her weekday show “On Call” (1 p.m. Central). Included on that list is Dr. Helen Scieszka, diocesan Family and Married Life director, who is quickly becoming one of Wiese’s favorite guests.

“When you talk to Dr. Helen, you feel like you’ve known her forever,” said Wiese. “She is so warm, so down to earth. Listeners are comfortable with her. She is so passionate about the faith.”

Scieszka joins the show approximately every six weeks. She appeared last week and is scheduled again for Dec. 21. Guest spots on “Morning Air” with Sean Herriott led to an invitation to “On Call.”

“My hope is that the show is helpful to people,” said Scieszka, “that they hear ideas or new thoughts or new ways of living that help them to be a better parent, a better spouse, a better Catholic.”

“On Call” was originally established by Dr. Ray Guarendi as a parenting program.

“There are so many issues that people deal with so we decided to broaden the scope,” said Wiese. “It’s been wonderful. I’m very blessed with guests like Dr. Helen who enjoy being with us and enjoy the give and take.”

Scieszka has appeared on three “On Call” shows to date. Keeping the Sabbath holy was a topic for discussion during her first guest spot.

“We talked about how to do that as a Catholic family in today’s world,” said Scieszka. “Sports things are scheduled on Sunday. (The show) was about giving the parents the permission to come together as a group to say, ‘No, we don’t want our kids playing sports on Sunday.’ That’s part of it too, just validating what they are feeling underneath and helping them to find ways to counteract the culture.

“I’m a big sports person, but there’s a time and a place,” she added. “Will I be watching the game on Sunday? You bet. Will I have gone to Mass? You bet. I hope we are helping families and married couples in this culture know more about their faith.”

The listeners often serve as contributors to the message, said Wiese.

“Dr. Helen discussed meal time and how Catholic families are called to make that a special time,” she said. “The talk shifted to listeners sharing what has worked for them. We rely on our listeners. They are in the trenches. They are raising their families.”

Wiese, who hosts the show from St. Louis, her hometown, has been married for 21 years and is the mother of two teenage daughters. She occasionally shares her own family experiences on air.

“There are lines that I wouldn’t cross,” she said. “I respect the sanctity of my family life. I’m sensitive to my kids’ and husband’s privacy, but I will share little anecdotal stuff.”

Wiese joined Relevant Radio in 2005 at a time that she describes as “God completely taking over.” She had previously worked at KTRS in St. Louis.

 “Our entire on-air staff was fired a week before Christmas when the St. Louis Cardinals bought the radio station,” she said. “I had a house full of relatives and I wanted to collapse. I wanted to cry, but here I am too busy making French toast for everyone.”

Relevant’s program director at the time was a St. Louis native. He made Wiese an offer.

“It was a very, very painful time,” she said. “You’re praying that you will land on your feet. We had Catholic school tuition to pay. I know it was God’s providence.”

Wiese has served Relevant Radio on many programs including “Morning Air” and network news. She hosted “On Call” on Fridays prior to taking over the show daily.

Scieszka and Wiese hope to do a show together in the same studio next year when the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers meet in St. Louis. The next show, during the week of Christmas, will focus on Christ, said Scieszka. Connecting with people on air has been fulfilling, she added.

“One of the neat things about Relevant Radio is you have people who are listening who really want to raise good, strong Catholic families and want good, strong marriages,” she said. “That’s wonderful. We are definitely not preaching to the choir even though at times it may feel that way. It’s a choir that still wants to learn new music, new ways of dealing with society.”


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