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15-Year Revolution in Catholic Radio -- Ave Maria Radio Flourishes Despite Odds - Including Flesh-Eating Bacteria

Contact: Nick Thomm, Ave Maria Radio, 734-930-3164, 734-277-0693 cell, nthomm@avemariaradio.net

ANN ARBOR, Mich., Aug. 22, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- Ave Maria Radio, the world's largest producer of original English language Catholic radio programming, is celebrating its 15th year of spreading the gospel, despite early challenges. They produce over twenty different titles, including three live programs that air weekdays over the EWTN global Catholic radio network's nearly 200 stations, as well as EWTN's Sirius satellite radio channel, streaming Internet audio, and iPhone and Android apps.

It was in 1997, that Ave Maria Radio, 1290 AM, WDEO in Ann Arbor, MI, (now AM 990 and AveMariaRadio.net) went on the airwaves in Southeastern Michigan. At that time, the landscape of Catholic radio was like a barren desert.

In 1996, Mother Angelica, foundress of EWTN television network, offered free programming to any Catholic radio station. The offer attracted the attention of Tom Monaghan, Domino's Pizza founder and former owner of the Detroit Tigers. In 1996, he leased 1290 AM and hired Al Kresta, a recent convert, to manage it. The station prospered and became listener supported within a few years.

Then, during the winter of 2002, it seemed doubtful that Kresta would live to ever witness this anniversary. Attacked by flesh-eating bacteria, his life hung in balance for weeks. Kresta said the suffering was offered up for the Ave Maria Radio and he grew closer to God in the process.

Although Kresta's left leg was amputated, he said he rejoiced that his life was saved. After a six-month recovery, he returned to Ave Maria Radio where he is now President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board for Ave Maria Communications and host of the nationally syndicated program, Kresta in the Afternoon.

Doug Keck, EWTN Executive VP and Chief Operating Officer, extended his congratulations for their anniversary. "All of us here at EWTN want to salute the faith-filled professionals of Ave Maria Radio for their 15-year 'Fiat' to the work of Catholic media evangelization! Our Lady is surely pleased to lend her name to such a great mission!"

To celebrate, Ave Maria Catholic Radio is hosting a concert featuring country music superstar, Collin Raye, and Nashville recording artist, Andrea Thomas, at Hill Auditorium on the University of Michigan Campus in Ann Arbor, MI, Saturday, August 25th at 7:30 pm. Al Kresta is available for interviews - please contact Nick Thomm (734) 930-3164 or (734) 277-0693; nthomm@avemariaradio.net.