‘Town crier’ radio thrives
By Sundra Homink, Special to the Citizen 10/04/12
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.
By Holly Speck and Hannah Matheson, Capital News Service 02/24/2017 General AssemblyGeneral Assembly 2017
Senior students at Glen Allen High School will get a personal touch when studying elections with their AP government teacher.
That teacher, Schuyler VanValkenburg, recently announced his intention to seek the Democratic nomination for the 72nd District seat in the House of Delegates. If he earns the nomination, he will run against Del. Jimmie Massie, R-Henrico, who has been unopposed for 10 years.
VanValkenburg, a 2004 University of Richmond alumnus who majored in history, is running for office for the first time. Although he has lived in Richmond since he began his undergraduate studies, aside from one year spent in Seattle, he said he never felt it was his time to run. > Read more.
School and business leaders from around the region, including (pictured, from left) Simon Hodges of Dominion Resources, Daphne Swanso(president of Junior Achievement of Central Virginia) and Henrico County Manager John Vithoulkas, gathered at Libbie Mill Library Feb. 23 for the Junior Achievement Finance Park construction kickoff. > Read more.
Finishing a day early, House and Senate negotiators agreed on a budget Wednesday that includes employee pay raises and more money for K-12 education and mental health.
The negotiators presented their budget to their fellow lawmakers in time for the required 48-hour review, which could be completed by Friday night with a chance to adjourn their 2017 session before Saturday’s target date.
Republican leaders in the House and Senate praised the spending plan’s conservative fiscal policies. > Read more.
A section of Charles City Road, from Lewis Road to South Airport Drive, will be closed beginning Sunday, Feb. 26 as part of a project to widen and improve the road.
The Henrico County Department of Public Works expects the closure to last for a few weeks.
Westbound traffic on Charles City will be detoured around the work zone by way of South Airport, Seven Hills Boulevard and Laburnum Avenue. > Read more.
By Rodrigo Arriaza and Maura Mazurowski, Capital News Service 02/24/2017 General AssemblyGeneral Assembly 2017
Officials with the American Civil Liberties Union called on Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Wednesday to veto Republican-backed legislation banning local governments in Virginia from designating themselves as sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants. They also said they plan to fight federal and state policies that they believe violate immigrants’ rights.
At a news conference, representatives of the ACLU of Virginia and other civil rights organizations criticized anti-immigrant measures passed by the General Assembly. They also condemned the recent spike in deportation raids on immigrant communities in Virginia by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as well as President Donald Trump’s recent executive order banning immigrants from seven mostly Muslim countries. > Read more.
St. Joseph's Villa’s Flagler Housing & Homeless Services was one of three entities to earn the National Alliance to End Homelessness' Champion of Change Award. The awards were presented Nov. 17 during a ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
NAEH annually recognizes proven programs and significant achievements in ending child and family homelessness.
Flagler completed its transition from an on-campus shelter to the community-based model of rapid rehousing in 2013, and it was one of the nation's first rapid re-housing service providers to be certified by NAEH. > Read more.
Richmond International Raceway's 13th annual Community Christmas tree lighting has been rescheduled from Dec. 6 to Monday, Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m., due to inclement weather expected on the original date.
Entertainment Dec. 12 will be provided by the Laburnum Elementary School choir and the Henrico High School Mighty Marching Warriors band. Tree decorations crafted by students from Laburnum Elementary School and L. Douglas Wilder Middle School will be on display. Hot chocolate and cookies will be supplied by the Henrico High School football boosters. > Read more.
Given the warm weather lately, Saturday’s RVA Polar Plunge Winter Fest, benefiting Special Olympics Virginia, might actually be enjoyable! Other weekend events you’re sure to enjoy include the 14th annual Richmond Kids Expo at the Richmond Raceway Complex, the Richmond Symphony and The Taters in concert at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen, and the Richmond Ballet Minds in Motion Team XXL performing at the Henrico Theatre. This is also the last weekend to check out HATTheatre’s production of “Bill W. and Dr. Bob.” For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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CalendarThe Henrico County office of Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Henrico Master Gardeners will present a series of free workshops this spring to help residents care for their lawns and gardens. The first workshop, “Spring Weed Control,” will take place from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Belmont Recreation Center. The program will focus on building a healthy turf and controlling crabgrass and weeds. To register, call 501-5160. Full text