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Sirius Radio’s Lino Rulli was in Phoenix Dec. 10 as part of his five-city tour of the U.S. promoting his daily two-hour program “The Catholic Guy.” Rulli, who also serves as personal media advisor to Cardinal Timothy Dolan, has hosted the light-hearted radio show for nine years. He has a bachelor’s degree in communication and a master’s in theology.
The Catholic Sun: How did you get started in radio?
Lino Rulli: TV was always my love and then I just was getting radio offers. The fact that this is what I do now either says God has a sense of humor or says that usually if God’s got the plan, it’s better to follow that than my own plan.
Sun: Cardinal Dolan has been in the headlines lately. What can you tell our readers about how you advise him these days?
Lino Rulli: My job is to give him that outside perspective. Here’s what it looks like, here’s what my buddies at the bar would say, here’s what my friends who are atheists are saying. So my job is to tell — and I think this is really healthy for people in the Church to have — in a way an outsider, which is what I am, the outsider, saying, “Hey, I’m not playing Church politics, I’m telling you this is how things are playing outside and here’s what I would suggest.”
Sun: You’re an outsider?
Lino Rulli: I’m totally an outsider. The reason the show is called “The Catholic Guy,” the reason I do what I do is not for people who are already inside. It’s for the rest of us. They have busy lives and you know your own parish priest, maybe you know that guy’s name, but maybe you haven’t belonged to the parish long or don’t belong to a parish. My job is how to make that connection.
Sun: A lot of Catholics don’t know they can have a personal relationship with Christ. Are you trying to evangelize them?
Lino Rulli: By taking the show on the road this week, the one thing that I heard more than anything, … “You’re just real. You’re very relatable.” So what that means is the show is me talking about my life, whether it be what I like for sports, I like gambling on football, I like going to the bar with my buddies, I like going to church on Sunday. They go, “Wait a second, so you can do all these things?” … My job isn’t to preach. My job is to say, “OK, here’s the thing. I go to confession. Now here’s my funny story or a story about how it’s benefitted my life.”
Sun: How do you prepare for your show?
Lino Rulli: The show is really about my life and the way I look at the world and so my show prep is looking at the world the way a stand-up comedian would and sort of examining it. What’s interesting about this? What’s funny about this? What could be the take-away, with a religious point of view on all of these things?
Sun: Do you ever examine serious topics or politics?
Lino Rulli: No, I’m the afternoon-drive guy. … I’m going to make you laugh. I’m going to say some stupid things but it will be in the context of Catholicism. It will also give you a little bit of something. You might learn, but that’s not necessarily my goal either. … It’s entertainment with a point of view that happens to be mine.
Sun: Tell us a little about your life.
Lino Rulli: I’m single and actually we just got engaged. … For the first three years we played “The Catholic Guy Dating Game” … when I turned 40 I thought, “OK, maybe I’m supposed to be doing something different” and we’d have different people in the diocese, different religious orders would call in and come on the air with me and try to persuade me to join their religious life. So it’s a way to promote what they’re doing but in a way that’s not boring.
Sun: Did you ask your fiancé to marry you on the air?
Lino Rulli: I didn’t but I definitely should have! We were in Rome about six weeks ago. We had a chance to speak with the pope.
We were mostly joking around. I said, “We’re getting married next year and I’m going to be a big cross in her life.” He looked at her and he’s like, “You’re going to prison, huh?” So, and then I was just like, “Since I’m going to be a big cross in her life, maybe we can pray together for her.” And he was laughing but he also did it. He’s like, “OK, let’s pray for her now.”