- Associated Press - Saturday, December 19, 2015

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - After many years of fighting for airspace, community radio is making a comeback in the Twin Cities.

The Minnesota Daily (https://bit.ly/1Y7Ni2S ) reports that four new low-power FM radio stations across the Twin Cities have secured licenses from the Federal Communications Commission to broadcast their content to specific communities, like the local Somali-American population.

South Minneapolis’ KALY, a Somali-language station, and St. Paul’s WFNU Frogtown Community Radio are working with Prometheus Radio Project to establish their stations.

KALY started broadcasting in late

September and is now working with South Minneapolis neighborhood organizations to attract awareness and listeners, director Mahamed Cali said.

The station plays Somali music and transmits local news in the language to appeal to the large Somali-American community in Minneapolis and near the University of Minnesota, Prometheus Radio Project technical director Will Floyd said.

KALY is the first Somali-American FM radio station in the country, he said.

“We send volunteers to listen at neighborhood meetings to hear what they are talking about with important issues,” Cali said. “And when we get the chance to talk to them we ask if they would like to partner with us to discuss these issues on the radio.”

Guests, like officials from Minneapolis Public Schools, have appeared on the show to talk about topics like checking their kids’ grades and getting in touch with teachers, he said.

“We want to empower the people who don’t know how the schools work,” he said, “because Minnesota has one of the biggest educaton gaps between black and white.”

Two of the four new stations, including WFNU, are working to garner neighborhood support and funding before hitting the air, which Floyd said can be hard to attract.

So far, KALY has secured sponsorship from local organizations like Afro Deli near the University’s West Bank campus, Cali said. Now, they’re looking to state and federal grant funding for more long-term support.

“We want to create a permanent space where people can come and speak and share their ideas and put together a show and really give something to their community,” Frogtown Neighborhood Association radio coordinator Julie Censullo said.

Frogtown has yet to install a radio antenna, though several DJs are already performing over the web, she said.

The Telecommunications Act of 1996, Floyd said, stymied community radio stations in cities across the country.

“The Act allowed the merging of news organizations, including radio statons,” he said. “Before there were lots of mom and pop stations, but they were bought up by large corporations.”

These mergers created a national shortage of community radio programming, Floyd said. Even today, he said, large cities - where low-power stations weren’t allowed to form until 2013 - lack neighborhood stations.

Frogtown Community Radio DJ Charles Moss, also known as DJ ChuckSmooth, said he thinks his high school DJing experience prepared him for radio.

“The radio has allowed me to fulfill a deam I had shelved but also work with different cultures in the neighborhood,” he said. “It provides a much-needed platform for community voices.”

WFNU and KALY aim to bring positive news to the community to counteract local stations’ stories on crime and poverty, Censullo said.

“There’s so much media today that (homes) in on negativity,” Moss said. “We want to pull out more positivitiy and be the voice of Frogtown and of St. Paul.”

Frogtown Community Radio hopes to build their station and be on air by early 2016, Censullo said.

“Logistically, our goal for the future is to get on FM, to get an antenna up and get funding for the future,” she said.


Information from: The Minnesota Daily, https://www.mndaily.com/

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