COVINA — Terry Barber and Jesse Romero broadcast their daily radio show out of a studio that probably isn’t much bigger than most of their listeners’ bathrooms.
A picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus hangs on one side, a crucifix on the other. Romero sits in front of a computer, and Barber stands up, constantly bouncing from one side of a microphone to the other.
Roberto Fraire, the radio technician, wears a bracelet depicting various saints. He takes calls while Barber and Romero demonstrate why the Catholic faith isn’t for sissies.
“The Terry and Jesse Show,” not to be confused with “The Tom and Jerry Show,” Fraire notes, will soon be available on the AM dial in Los Angles. Immaculate Heart Radio, AM 930, which will begin broadcasting Nov. 17, has been featuring the hour of Jesus and testosterone since 2007.
Romero, a retired member of the LAPD who served in East and South L.A., has a Master’s degree from Franciscan University in Steubenville and has been on Spanish-language Catholic radio since the 1990s. Barber, a real estate agent, is the founder of St. Joseph’s Communications.
They’ve penned books on apologetics and are both madly in love with the Lord. They give talks at parishes across the United States, but you don’t have to wait for them to visit yours. You can just tune in.
‘The Lord’s Gym’
“We bring Catholicism to Joe Sixpack,” Barber says Aug. 21 over a bowl of teriyaki chicken, rice and avocado at the Golden Bowl.
“We don’t do teleprompter radio,” Romero chimes in. They take turns answering questions as if they were talking to a caller on air.
Earlier that day, the two tackled a tough topic: depression. Robin Williams’ suicide inspired them to discuss the issue with their audience.
“I want you to have the resources you need,” Barber says into the microphone, his bouncing slowing down. “We have a lot of wounded people out there, and obviously the answer is Jesus Christ.”
Romero then leads listeners in a prayer for Williams. He reads from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2281:
“Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide is contrary to love for the living God.”
They share practical tips for dealing with depression throughout the show.
“Sometimes people forget if they sit around and do nothing, they will be depressed,” Barber says.
“The body, the mind, the soul — they’re all connected,” Romero adds. “Get some cardio going. Get those endorphins pumping.”
A man with ALS calls and shares how he overcame struggles with depression. He tells the hosts that his faith is helping him carry the cross, and that he looks forward to the resurrection of the body.
“Tell them!” Barber exclaims. He’s so excited, he can’t help but cut in. “Woo-hoo! We’re never going to be sick again! We will be set free!”
Throughout the show, the two take turns sharing their knowledge of the faith. A simple glance or a thumbs up — they anticipate each other’s words and set up talking points.
Romero, who says he learned theology working in “one the largest jails in the world,” is calm. “I’ve seen evil,” he says of his time as cop. “Our Catholic faith is the answer to all of this.”
“Our perspectives complement each other,” Barber says. “But the bottom line is Christ.”
Immaculate Heart Radio
“The Terry and Jesse Show” is just one of many Catholic programs Immaculate Heart Radio will broadcast in Los Angeles. Doug Sherman, president of Immaculate Heart, says “Right Here, Right Now — with Patrick Madrid” and the San Diego-based “Catholic Answers Live” are also popular.
Sherman, a convert, knows it take persistence to lead a person to faith. It took him a while.
He met his wife in high school in Pasadena and he “went along with being married in the Catholic Church,” he says in an interview with The Tidings. He agreed to let his children be raised in the faith.
He joined the Church himself 20 years later.
Sherman attended World Youth Day in Denver in 1993 and he never forgot St. John Paul II’s words: “Everyone needs to do something to bring Christ into the world.”
For Sherman, that meant Catholic radio.
Yet Pope Francis is showing us how to reach out even more, he said. The pope is getting a hearing from folks from all walks of life.
“We know we’re reaching faithful Catholics,” Sherman says. “But we want to go further than that.”
Los Angeles is a part of that, he says, and Immaculate Heart is striving to meet the changing needs of those who will take the time to listen.