‘Town crier’ radio thrives
The sound of music fills a radio studio on a Saturday afternoon. Children’s tiny voices sing Christian songs.
As David Ventura fades out the music and turns on the microphone, the voice of pastor George Contreras travels across the airwaves throughout central Virginia.
The music and voices originate in Henrico County. In January 2012, WBTK 1380 AM radio moved from Richmond to studios in the Glenside area. The station’s tower has always been in Lakeside.
While based in Henrico County, the station hopes to appeal to Hispanic listeners and others from around the region who want to hear Christian songs, a mix of Spanish music and family-friendly programs.
“All of the music that we play, all the programming that we play, it is all targeted toward the family,” said Glen Motto, operations manager. “The lyrics of all of the songs are going to be safe.”
Motto said the station changed formats six years ago. The owners realized the region’s Hispanic community was growing.
“Henrico is the sixth largest county in Virginia in terms of Hispanic population,” Motto said. “When you include Chesterfield and Richmond, the Hispanic population nears 50,000.”
Radio stations play a central role in Hispanic communities in the U.S. and in Latin American countries.
Felipe Korzenny of The Center for Hispanic Marketing Communications at Florida State University writes in his blog that radio traditionally serves “as the town-crier in an interactive way” and the “radio announcer publicizes jobs…and spreads the word about local events.”
That’s exactly what drew WBTK announcer Oscar Contreras to the station.
Contreras, who lives in Henrico County, didn't expect to be working at a radio station.
He came to Richmond to study film and photography at Virginia Commonwealth University after his family moved to Culpeper from Guatemala.
But one day in his car, he heard the new radio station. He liked what he heard and called to apply for a job. He’s been at the station since then.
Contreras considers the station a community resource offering such programs as “Focus on the Community,” which airs each Monday.
“When I came into the radio [station, it] was in my heart to do a community show where we can inform people about what’s going on in the region, events, the services, have interviews with different experts on different topics,” he said. “We open the lines and people call; people ask questions.”
The station works with local governments and nonprofit agencies to share information with its Hispanic listeners. And of course the station connects advertisers with what Motto calls an “underserved market.”
Most of the music and programs are in Spanish, but long-time announcer “Brother Herb” Pollard hosts a morning show Monday through Friday in English.
On a recent Friday morning, Pollard played religious songs and testimonials interspersed with weather and traffic reports.
Pollard, who is black, said one of his roles is to encourage his listeners. Another role he has taken on is to help build bridges between the area’s Hispanic and African-American communities.
“I bridge the gap between two cultures,” Pollard said. “I try to do it by music and by communication. I show equal love to all cultures.”
This story is part of the series "Virginia Tapestry: Reflecting Our Rich Diversity," produced by In Your Shoes Media.
Richmonders Jim Morgan and Dan Stackhouse were married at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Lakeside Mar. 7 month after winning the Say I Do! With OutRVA wedding contest in February. The contest was open to LGBT couples in recognition of Virginia’s marriage equality law, which took effect last fall. The wedding included a package valued at $25,000.
Morgan and Stackhouse, who became engaged last fall on the day marriage equality became the law in Virginia, have been together for 16 years. They were selected from among 40 couples who registered for the contest. The winners were announced at the Say I Do! Dessert Soiree at the Renaissance in Richmond in February. > Read more.
The Fourth Annual Healy Gala will be held Saturday, Apr. 11, at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
The event was created to honor Michael Healy, a local businessman and community leader who died suddenly in June 2011, and to endow the Mike Healy Scholarship (through the Glen Allen Ruritan Club), which benefits students of Glen Allen High School.
Healy served as the chairman of Glen Allen Day for several years and helped raise thousands of dollars for local charities and organizations. > Read more.
The Richmond Battlefield Ruritan Club is holding a Brunswick stew sale, with orders accepted through March 13 and pick-up available March 14. The cost is $8 per quart.
Pick-up will be at noon, March 14, at the Richmond Heights Civic Center, 7440 Wilton Road in Varina.
To place an order, call Mike at (804) 795- 7327 or Jim at (804) 795-9116. > Read more.
Two events this weekend benefit man’s best friend – a rabies clinic, sponsored by the Glendale Ruritan Club, and an American Red Cross Canine First Aid & CPR workshop at Alpha Dog Club. The fifth annual Shelby Rocks “Cancer is a Drag” Womanless Pageant will benefit the American Cancer Society and a spaghetti luncheon on Sunday will benefit the Eastern Henrico Ruritan Club. Twin Hickory Library will also host a used book sale this weekend with proceeds benefiting The Friends of the Twin Hickory Library. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
Ichiban offers rich Asian flavors, but portions lack
In a spot that could be easily overlooked is a surprising, and delicious, Japanese restaurant. In a tiny nook in the shops at the corner of Ridgefield Parkway and Pump Road sits a welcoming, warm and comfortable Asian restaurant called Ichiban, which means “the best.”
The restaurant, tucked between a couple others in the Gleneagles Shopping Center, was so quiet and dark that it was difficult to tell if it was open at 6:30 p.m. on a Monday. When I opened the door, I smiled when I looked inside. > Read more.
Disney’s no-frills, live-action ‘Cinderella’ delights
Cinderella is the latest from Disney’s new moviemaking battle plan: producing live-action adaptations of all their older classics. Which is a plan that’s had questionable results in the past.
Alice in Wonderland bloated with more Tim Burton goth-pop than the inside of a Hot Topic. Maleficent was a step in the right direction, but the movie couldn’t decide if Maleficent should be a hero or a villain (even if she should obviously be a villain) and muddled itself into mediocrity.
Cinderella is much better. Primarily, because it’s just Cinderella. No radical rebooting. No Tim Burton dreck. It’s the 1950 Disney masterpiece, transposed into live action and left almost entirely untouched. > Read more.
- More News
Mar. 19, 2015Click here to read the print edition.
- More Entertainment
- More Obituaries
- More Community
- More Opinions
- More Sports
ClassifiedsREADERS & MUSIC LOVERS. 100 Greatest Novels (audio books) ONLY $99.00 (plus s h.) Includes MP3 Player & Accessories. BONUS: 50 Classical Music Works & Money Back Guarantee. Call Today!… Full text
CalendarThe fifth annual Shelby Rocks “Cancer is a Drag” Womanless Pageant, to benefit the American Cancer Society, will start at 6:30 p.m. at Richmond International Raceway’s Old Dominion Building. It… Full text