Embracing Community Means Sharing Culture

Rip Robbins from LPRC member station KSVR in Mount Vernon, WA writes about the station’s commitment to providing local voices and content for their audience, which for KSVR means providing Spanish language programming and sharing the Latino community culture with their Anglo audience. To be inclusive, KSVR incorporates into its programming the different languages and culture in their community. KSVR now has several programs that include local people talking to local people in both languages.

In the farming community north of Seattle, Latino migrant workers and residents had no local Spanish language media. In 1973, when KSVR-FM began operations, the first Spanish-language music program was heard in the Skagit (SKA-jit) Valley, and today that has evolved into 84 hours per week of music, news, and information. The sources are local, regional, national, and international!

KSVR has a mission to provide service to everyone in our community. That means we try to be inclusive with regard to accommodating the different languages, and that has led to more programs that feature “Dual Language” speakers. In these programs, the host will make sure that the guest discussion is paraphrased in the other language.

We don’t like literal translations, like the legal interpreters at a court. We promote conversation style paraphrasing, so the listener is not unduly burdened with repetitious translating. And we recognize that in sharing culture, it is the Anglo audience that needs educating about the “other”, the Latino community. We promote the idea that English-only listeners can tune in to hear “…what the Latino community is talking about….”

This idea came about due to an incident years ago, when the local health department wanted to talk about hazards of bacterial contamination of children’s toys after a terrible flood washed through much of our farm community. The representative from the health department did not speak Spanish, and the radio hosts were not fluently bilingual. The health department did not have a Spanish-language spokesperson and we struggled to translate and read the advisories on the air. I made the observation that we cannot exclude important guests from the radio just because they don’t speak Spanish. And we began the work on changing our programming to be more inclusive for the benefit of our Latino populations.

Juan ESL group

KSVR Latino Program Coordinador Juan Arreguin works with international students to produce a one hour radio special. The foreign students each introduce songs from their home country, in English.

KSVR now has several programs with this format of local people talking to local people in both languages. That has opened the door for more community partners, such as State Employment, Health Centers, and educational services. Of course, more and more of these agencies and organizations are hiring bilingual and Spanish-speaking employees, so our job gets easier every year!

One source of regional information is a weekly program produced by Washington State Commission on Hispanic Affairs (CHA). The program originates in Seattle and features up to 11 government and non-government agencies. Another program is a local talk show featuring the appointed Commissioner for our area of the state, Manuel Reta. He makes a 45 minute drive to and from our studio, because he believes in the value of radio to reach his “constituency”.

Reta, Delbene,Ayala

Talk show host Manuel Reta with guest Congresswoman Suzan Delbene and student engineer Karla Ayala.

The international and national news is provided by Satélite Radio Bilingüe. KSVR-FM has been an affiliate since 1997, and Línea Abierta gets the highest listener count (AQH) according to Nielsen Ratings.

News programming is considered the most expensive content to produce, requiring extensive ‘labor’. Reading headlines is not enough. In 2014 KSVR worked with long-time producer Miguel Gaitan to bring the first morning news program in Spanish to our community. Miguel creates a program on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The Monday show is repeated on Tuesday, the Wednesday show is repeated on Thursday, and the Friday show is repeated on Saturday. Because our local program does not need to include national news (already done by Radio Bilingue), we can air the program the following day without losing too much timeliness regarding the program content. By repeating the program, we are able to secure the same daypart across the week, to give listeners the “horizontal” programming strip that they know will air at that time of day.

familias unidas

Example of local programming: featured on Ecos de La Comunidad are several representatives of labor advocacy groups who later in the day would be organizing in support of reform of labor practices for field workers in agriculture. In this photo: Jesús (no last name given), Oscar Sánchez, Ramón Torres, Miguel Gaitán, Edgar Frans and KSVR Rip Robbins.

One show that KSVR plans to take national is produced by the Skagit Valley Domestic Violence Prevention Services. The host producer, Adi Hernandez, had no radio experience when she started as co-host on this weekly program. She is now the sole host/producer, and frequently has guests who are English-only. The topics are relevant across our larger community, for every population group, and we believe this program is also relevant across the country. We are hoping to introduce a 30 minute version of her one hour program starting in late September (via Audioport and PRX).

KSVR has greatly expanded its programming due to its Community Service Grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  Everyone working at KSVR is extremely grateful for the support received.

KSVR is proud to be a member of LPRC since its inception, and we look forward to continuing the work that we love, and to share with others in the community radio family.


From morning commute to after school and off the air, WIPR serves young audiences

Mayra Acevedo, Executive Team Member & Senior Journalist at WIPR, writes about their new programming for children on diverse platforms.

Much like other children, youngsters in Puerto Rico are on their way to school early in the morning and out by 2 o’clock. However, very few local radio or TV content tailored to their interests or needs was available. WIPR realized there was a huge opportunity to engage this underserved audience through our diverse platforms.

Our approach was to:

  • Improve programming by strategically rearranging existing content
  • Introduce short-form content designed for young audiences
  • Transform one of our most popular kids’ program, Cuenta Cuentos, into a monthly community engagement program at the neighborhood park
  • And use our content as an integral part of an afterschool tutoring project at 35 underperforming island-wide middle schools. The project is known as Taller Cien.
te cuento lo que lei

Te cuento lo que leí

WIPR’s Diverse Platforms

WIPR’s TV programming block for younger audiences runs from 6:00 AM thru 9:AM, while the afterschool slot runs from 3-6 pm weekdays and weekend mornings. Local productions such as La nave de Remi, Te cuento lo que leí, as well as other programs with high-quality production values like Piccolo Mondo and others are included.


Actor Braulio Castillo, Jr. and Remi

During weekday morning hours, WIPR 940 AM broadcasts the first and only locally-produced two-hour radio segment in Puerto Rico dedicated to children: Cuentos Camino a la Escuela. The 2 half-hour stories are designed specifically for elementary and middle school kids and are narrated by professional actors from WIPR’s Radio Drama Workshop.

Listen to one of our Cuentos de Camino a la Escuela.



The stories are followed by Despertar Musical, a musical education program developed as a joint venture with the Puerto Rico Music Conservatory that airs every weekday.

Content produced originally for our traditional platforms (radio and television) is now available around the clock on our digital platforms. It can be accessed anywhere.  Animaleando is one of WIPR’s new short-form content, produced with the goal of increasing young audiences’ awareness of the need to protect animals and their environment.

Addressing kids who need extra attention to meet school challenges is one of our youth engagement strategy. Through the sponsorship of the project Taller Cien, WIPR’s content is used to train Spanish Teachers in the use of art to improve academic outcome in underachieving middle schoolers (6th to 8th graders). Nearly 1,500 students in 50 schools had a 15% increase in academic performance after workshops (especially in Spanish language proficiency) and increased school attendance. Teachers and students expressed higher satisfaction and future outcome expectations. Taller Cien is a project developed in partnership with Puerto Rico’s Education Department.


Cuenta Cuentos en el Parque Baldrich

Cuenta Cuentos en el Parque Baldrich (Storytelling at the Park) is our most recent community engagement program. Over 200 kids and their parents visit the community park in Baldrich, San Juan the first Sundays of every  month.  Artists and host Tere Marichal read stories with the help of community members, fostering the love of storytelling.

Cuenta Cuentos is an outreach initiative that was inspired by one of our newest children’s programs Te Cuento lo que Leí and is aimed at encouraging reading and storytelling. It’s been a favorite tool for elementary school teachers and it’s now a community monthly activity. Cuenta Cuentos led to a weekly two-hour story telling workshop at WIPR facilities. The workshop is free of charge for community members.

WIPR is Puerto Rico’s public broadcasting system and consists of two television stations and two radio stations (940 AM and 91.3 FM).

Live Remote Broadcasts Hit a Sweet Spot for WDNA and Its Audience

Sarah Cruz* from LPRC member station WDNA in Miami writes about their recent live remote broadcasts. It’s a great story of finding that sweet spot — where public radio, music, history and community converge, enriching the local experience and helping the station grow. WDNA has a long history of hosting and broadcasting live shows. You can listen to one of their latest remotes here.

Live Remote Broadcasts: WDNA Miami + Ball & Chain Hit a Sweet Spot

12688263_10153816138656166_5575243751611722367_nThis January, WDNA kicked off a new live broadcast – Jazz at The Ball & Chain. Ball & Chain is an iconic Miami venue in Little Havana, dating back to the 30’s. It re-opened a little more than a year ago after being closed down for several years. Shuttered up all those years was a beautiful bar with a rich jazz history. Chet Baker, Billie Holiday, and Count Basie are just a few of the greats that performed there.

This isn’t WDNA’s first live, remote broadcast. Our Tuesday Jazz Party at Blue Martini Kendall (bar/restaurant) has been running successfully for a few years now, brining great live music to a suburb that was seriously lacking in quality entertainment.

“All of these factors culminate into a beautiful and really fun night that celebrates music, community, and local history. We’re also sharing and growing our respective audiences.”

The Ball & Chain broadcast, though, is unique. Ball & Chain is situated on the main street of Little Havana – Calle 8 – a neighborhood that holds a lot of history and memories for Cuban immigrants in Miami. It’s a place were many made temporary homes that became permanent. The neighborhood is also home to many Central American immigrants from Nicaragua, Mexico, El Salvador and Honduras. So there is a wonderful multi-cultural vibe.

On Thursdays, the day of the live broadcast, Ball & Chain has salsa lessons and music in the bar, while the jazz is outside in their pineapple band shell. They also serve Cuban-style food and drink.

It’s a wonderful partnership because we are neighbors, and we both care about jazz and preserving local history. Nick Tannura, a great local jazz guitarist, curates the music.  The owners – Bill Fuller, Zack Bush, and Ben Bush – are jazz lovers, so they’re committed to hosting and broadcasting quality music. All of these factors culminate into a beautiful and really fun night that celebrates music, community, and local history. We’re also sharing and growing our respective audiences.

Content, community service and station growth: Striking a balance

There’s a special balance involved in developing content as a public radio station. Obviously, our primary concern is fulfilling our mission to provide quality content that’s beneficial to our communities. In our case, that focus is jazz, blues, and world music. We also do a lot in the realm of music education. But, we also need to constantly be increasing our revenues, and ensuring that we develop innovative content that highlights the local, while also appealing to global streaming audiences.

This Ball & Chain partnership seems to really hit the sweet spot of these intersecting components. We at WDNA and the folks at Ball & Chain are very excited about the future of this project.

Ball & Chain was already programming jazz before WDNA got involved. But now, WDNA does a live, hour-long broadcast of the performance on the last Thursday of each month.

In addition to providing rich, local content, this live broadcast helps us fill these hour-long holes we have in our locally produced programming. Normally we end up paying for a syndicated show. With these live broadcasts, not only are we producing local content, but we garner revenue for the station.

Making it happen

Ball & Chain Feb - 5

This broadcast is set up as an underwriting program through Howard Duperly, WDNA’s director of underwriting and marketing. Live remote broadcasts do require a good amount of planning and investment from all parties involved. As a result, we require a minimum commitment of six months from the client.

WDNA’s promotion investment in the project includes pre-recorded spots, live mentions, space on our website, e-blasts, social media, and two live call ins after the broadcast. We employ three WDNA people for the broadcast – Michael Valentine serves as board operator at the station; Jason Matthews is our on-site broadcast engineer; and Cary Alexander, host of the Latin Jazz Quarter, hosts the live broadcast.

Ball & Chain provides the necessary soundboard, internet connection, and other required on-site technical components. They employ a sound engineer, photographer and videographer. They also have a great social media presence, so we combine efforts there to promote the night.

Thus far, we’ve had two broadcasts – the last Thursdays of January and February – and they’ve been a great success!  January was a bit more straight ahead, featuring Mark Small, an incredible saxophonist in Miami, by way of New York City. February featured Latin Jazz and Grammy award winning trumpeter, Brian Lynch, and his ensemble.

We’ve had a solid turnout of WDNA listeners. At February’s broadcast, I was standing at the bar waiting for a drink, and the man next to me asked if I worked for WDNA. I said, “Yes, are you a member?” He grinned at me and pulled up the antenna of the pocket radio in his breast pocket. “You know it!”

It’s been a great opportunity for us to meet more of our listeners, for Ball & Chain to build up new clients, and for us to jointly grow the jazz scene, both locally and globally. We cannot wait for March’s broadcast!

*Sarah Cruz is WDNA’s Membership & Development Director.