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Bilingual radio station seeks to bridge communities

January 2, 2019

GOSHEN, Ind. (AP) — A community-funded bilingual radio station is working to build community by reaching out to potential listeners who may have a wide variety of interests and backgrounds.

The idea for Radio Horizonte, which organizers started discussing around 2005, was to give young people something to listen to, learn from and take part in. But the station, which became reality in 2015, also aims to unite various parts of the community.

“We want to bring it together, not just for Hispanics but for the Anglo community and black African-American community. We want to be like a bridge so all of us can mix together,” said Jose Pichinte, who is one of the volunteers behind Radio Horizonte.

Radio Horizonte volunteers are the lifeblood of the not-for-profit station, which makes its home in the basement of Centier Bank on Lincoln Highway.

The station features hosts who speak Spanish, English or both in their programs, and that’s part of what makes 104.3 FM a special frequency.

“You can relate to changing the dial into English or changing to another radio station that’s Spanish, but you never see a radio station that has both together, and so you can actually relate to this radio station,” said Taide Galvez, another volunteer at the station.

DJs play various genres of music in both English and Spanish and aim to be family friendly.

“We do strive to take a look at the lyrics, see what the context of the song is before we play it,” Galvez said. “What we’re thinking is, if we’re emphasizing education we should also emphasize what kind of music our kids listen to. So that’s one of the things that does set us apart from the other Spanish-speaking radio stations.”

According to Radio Horizonte staff, the station has listeners all over the county, around the country and even abroad in places like Mexico, Spain, Australia and Nigeria.

All of it is possible because local business and community members donate money and time. Radio Horizonte has found the small business community to be particularly helpful. The small station means small businesses can make a big difference.

″(We) tap into the smaller mom-and-pop shops and do a price that is affordable for them,” Galvez said. “And sometimes it’s not monetarily, sometimes we actually get equipment or other things that we need.”

Radio Horizonte President Manuel Cortez said the station has around 25 volunteers, and they’re always looking for more.

“We like to talk to our community. Anyone who would like to donate time, anyone, no matter who they are, the doors are open,” Cortez said.

Learning the basics of being a DJ takes about two weeks, he said, while being a producer could take six months to a year.

Some who don’t wish to take on the technology but still have something to contribute on the air become co-hosts.

“You don’t need to be a professional to be on the air,” Cortez said.

The station also needs people behind the scenes, with skills in accounting, software and social media.

One of the DJs at Radio Horizonte is high school student Raul Barrios, who hosts from 7 to 9 p.m. Fridays.

“I pretty much just play Spanish music and English music from the ’80s. Stuff like that. I don’t play the same music as other radio stations play because we are trying to be different. That’s why I like it,” Barrios said.

“And watch, he’s going to leave us in one year, when we train him. He’s going to be that good,” Galvez said.

Radio Horizonte also asks people in the community to come in and be guests on their shows to share information that’s important to listeners. One of those guests is Yolo López Pérez, director of development at Center for Healing and Hope, a nonprofit urgent care clinic.

“This is the difference we want to make in our community,” Pichinte said. “We contact them and ask them if they want to come in and explain how their program works.”

In López Pérez’s appearance, she and the host switched back and forth between English and Spanish so that as many as possible would understand.

“Being bilingual says a lot. It says that you’re being inclusive to the second highest population in Elkhart County, and I think it’s a great initiative because you are bridging gaps of communication,” López Pérez said about Radio Horizonte. “And their mission is excellent. It’s supporting students and supporting education.”

Cortez hopes to be able to do more of that in 2019, when the station wants to be able to provide a three to five scholarships to help students pay for college.

That has become more realistic since moving to the basement at Centier Bank in October, as the move not only gave the station a bigger studio but reduced the rent.

Earlier in December, Cortez and Radio Horizonte were recognized for their service and dedication to the Hispanic community, when they received the 2018 Indiana Latino Male-Owned Business Award at the Indiana Latino Expo.

“It’s something that validates the long hours that we volunteer, because none of us are paid,” Galvez said. “It means that we are being recognized by the community, the community knows who we are and we’re making a small dent.”

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Source: The Elkhart Truth

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Information from: The Elkhart Truth, http://www.elkharttruth.com

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