The Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) celebrates its 25 anniversary this month. EWTN is the flagship of Catholic networks. So this is a big deal.
I have to say as far as great television is concerned EWTN has a ways to go. A lot of its shows are at best borderline, and quite a few of them are frankly lame. I remember they used to have a children's show in the late afternoon. A plump woman would sit in a rocking chaird, holidng a teddy bear while she interviewed someone. That "someone' was usually a skinny, scrofulous scholar with as much media appeal as Olive Oyl. I often wondered if anyone other than me was watching.
Then there's the Christmas music. A couple of years ago EWTN started featuring a little family singing group. Four or five sisters with their hands clasped, singing obscure motets. ( I used to sing them myself, so I say "obscure" with all due affection.) The trouble was a) they weren't especially good and b) with their long straight hair, mid-calf jumpbers and flat,s ensible shoes they looked like refugees from some Utah child marriage cult. If EWTN wanted to scream "We are not MTV" they couldn't have done it any louder.
But I just watched a special episode of "The Journey Home,' Marcus Grodi's weekly interview wtih people who found their was either into or back to the Church. This show has itsw ups and downs too; I guess it's hard to find enough interesting reverts (dont' get me started on converts, they can never shut up).
But tonight was different Tonight Marcus hosted-- get ready--
Yes. Dion DiMucci. Dion! "Runaround Sue"! "The Wanderer"! I am talking the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame here, people! I am talking music HISTORY!
But did they focus on Dion? God forbid. Dion shared the panel with two other reverts. One was that young bearded priest- what's his name, Father Sleeves-Rolled-Up- who hosts "Life On The Rock," an earnest but less-than-awesome show aimed at the sub- 30 set. The other was a radio apologist whose radio show is excellent, but whose TV personality is a little lackluster.
Even so, Dion was riveting. He had that Augustinian quality to him, that incredible genuineness, that reach-out-and-touch-him reality. And he had truly touching humility, as evidenced by the fact that he actually listened to those other guys, who weren't anywhere near as interesting as he was.
Over the past week there's been a lot of Cathoic radio time given to EWTN's anniversary, and what it means for Catholic media. The fact is Catholic media in general is pretty lame. Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that someone is on the air explaining the catechsm and the Scriptures. I listen to those shows all the time. I like learning. What I don't like is the "Glenn's Story Corner" schmaltz, or any of the other "how to give a lousy sermon" workshops.
If the powers that be at EWTN had any sense they would be down on their knees begging Dion to host a show for them. Just imagine the kind of interviews he could offer. He could go through the whole Hall of Fame roster. Dion was Class of '89. So were the Rolling Stones. So was Aretha if I'm not mistaken.
I bet they'd return Dion's phone callls.
Oh please, EWTN, get a clue. Sign Dion and I promise I might even send you money.
But you gotta ditch the teddy bear lady, too.