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New Community Radio Station Serves Once Ignored Audience In Ventura County

Volunteers make up the majority of the on-air staff at "Radio Indigena", a new low power FM radio station serving Mixtecos, and other ingenous peoples from Mexico who for the most part don't speak English or Spanish.

The South Coast’s newest radio station isn’t one going after ratings, or to make a lot of money through commercials.

“Radio Indigena” is a brand new FM station in Oxnard licensed to a non-profit group which serves Mixteco, and other indigenous peoples from Mexico who often don’t speak English or Spanish.

Arcenio Lopez is Executive Director of the Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project. MICOP serves about 20,000 Mixtecos, and other indigenous people in Ventura County.

Lopez says that three years ago, they heard that the Federal Government was offering licenses for new, low power FM stations to non-profit groups. Unlike the big commercial stations, you can only receive these new radio stations for an eight to ten mile radius. They can’t air commercials. The goal is to serve underserved audiences.

Carlos Jiminez, with MICOP, helped plan the station. Jiminez says radio is a powerful means of communication in this community, which still relies on radio instead of social media.

The station operates out of a single room on the second floor of MICOP’s headquarters, on Fifth Street in Oxnard. Edgar Vicente is the station’s coordinator, overseeing its operation. He says that hard part is producing quality programs, keeping in mind the shows will mostly be hosted by volunteers. MICOP’S Arcenio Lopez says the programs they are trying to create will deal with everything from health care, to immigration issues.

The 50 watt signal from the roof of a high rise building in Oxnard next to the 101 Freeway can be heard in most of Western Ventura County, and some Eastern parts of the county.  A religious broadcaster is renting space on its tower to make the broadcast signal possible.

Officials with the non-profit hope “Radio Indigena” will be an important new source of information, as well as entertainment for an audience missed by commercial English, and Spanish radio stations in the region.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.