Fr. Thomas Rosica, CEO of the Salt and Light Media Foundation, stands in the new headquarters of the Catholic broadcaster in midtown Toronto. Salt + Light has almost tripled its space with the move. Photo by Michael Swan

Salt + Light finds more room to stretch at new headquarters

  • December 20, 2016

However much the suits from media companies may complain at CRTC hearings, broadcasting is big business in Canada — to the tune of $17.3 billion in 2014 revenues

But for the one priest and 36 lay people who mount Canada’s premier Catholic broadcasting enterprise, it’s something entirely different.

“There’s nobody here with a puffed up sense of what broadcasting is. This is a mission,” said Salt and Light Media Foundation CEO Fr. Thomas Rosica. “There’s not one person here who doesn’t have a mission at heart.”

It has been 14 years since the tiny digital television service launched on a shoestring in the afterglow of Toronto’s 2002 World Youth Day. For 2017, the TV station which strives “to give the flavour of the Gospel and the light of Christ to a world that is steeped in darkness and tastelessness at times” has acquired the tools and the space to do the job.

On Dec. 9, Salt + Light moved from its century-old building at the corner of Richmond and Jarvis in Toronto into new space at Davisville and Mt. Pleasant in mid-town. The broadcaster has added a real studio — a broadcast theatre big enough to stage event broadcasts — and nearly tripled its floor space from 8,500 square feet (790 square metres) to 22,000 (2,044 square metres).

The fairly modern but far from new building where Salt + Light now does most of its production has such advantages as a low likelihood of floods (Salt + Light almost lost its master control room to flooding last year), a newer power grid (annoying little blackouts are a problem downtown) and some solid, vibration-proof concrete.

In the old studios with the century hardwood floors and exposed brick, camera tripods had to be secured with sandbags to try to keep vibration to a minimum when trucks passed by on Richmond Street.

The new studio space is only part of a trajectory which has seen the not-for-profit broadcaster leap to the forefront of Catholic broadcasting.

Salt + Light produces programming in English, French, Italian and Chinese. Its work is available on seven different platforms — television, radio, a blog, Internet TV, a Roku channel, social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) and a monthly magazine.

The Toronto broadcast centre is supplemented with French-language operations based in Montreal.

The next frontier is New York. Salt + Light and the Archdiocese of New York are in talks about a permanent Salt + Light presence at the new Sheen Center for Thought and Culture, named in honour of former New York Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.

There was nothing about Rosica’s training as a Basilian priest, including years spent at the École Biblique in Jerusalem, that prepared him for life as a broadcasting executive.

“I consider my role to have been sort of a talent scout, a coach and bringing people on board,” he told The Catholic Register.

What Rosica brings most is a lively faith in doing whatever is possible as well as possible.

“The Catholic community and the non-Catholic community — they deserve excellence,” Rosica said. “They deserve authentic reporting, truthful reporting. They don’t deserve filth. They don’t deserve the bombastic stuff.”

No one ever described Rosica as shy, but he takes no credit for Salt + Light’s success.

“I’m a firm believer in divine providence. This had to happen,” he said. “This is the realization of a dream.”

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