‘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.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) will host a candlelight vigil of remembrance and hope Tuesday, Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. at the University of Richmond, outside the Cannon Chapel. The public is invited to attend and join MADD to honor victims of impaired driving crashes, while helping to remind the community to be safe during the holidays. > Read more.
Among participants at the Seventh Annual Coordinators2Inc Golf Tournament and awards luncheon Oct. 3 were (from left) Rebecca Ricardo, C2 Inc executive director; Kevin Derr, member of the winning foursome; Sharon Richardson, C2 Inc founder; and Frank Ridgway and Jon King, members of the winning foursome.
Held at The Crossings Golf Club, the tournament will benefit placement of children from Virginia's foster care system into permanent families through Coordinators2. > Read more.
Event will help kick of Marine Corps' 'Toys for Tots' campaign
All 140 A.C. Moore locations will serve as drop-off centers this year for the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, and all toys collected will stay in the local communities served by the stores in which they are donated.
On Saturday, Nov. 15, the Willow Lawn location will kick off the month-long program by hosting a "Make & Take" craft event for kids. Children ages six and older will be able to make a craft and take it home with them. Representatives from the Marines will be in-store to teach customers about the Toys for Tots program. A.C. Moore team members will be on site to help with the crafts. > Read more.
The Dominion GardenFest of Lights Grand Illumination takes place tonight at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden! This year’s theme is “A Legacy in Lights: 120 Years from Bicycle Club to Botanical Garden,” which celebrates the Garden’s history. You can also celebrate Thanksgiving again – tomorrow at Henricus Historical Park. More great events – Lavender Fields Herb Farm and Wilton House Museum will both host their holiday open house events this weekend. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
Disney’s ‘Big Hero 6,’ lovable robot Baymax delight
It may be time for Olaf to step down as our nation’s reigning cartoon character. Big Hero 6, the latest animated feature from Disney, contains a challenger to the throne: Baymax (Scott Adsit), another lovably chubby white wonder, who will bring joy to children’s hearts and invade every home in America inside a six-foot pile of Disney merchandise.
Big Hero 6 (based ever so slightly on a Marvel comic of the same name) is the story of Baymax – and also his closest companion Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter). And then also their four friends, all of whom join together to form the titular superhero team.
At first, though, it’s only Hiro, a young boy and an engineering prodigy, who’d rather spend his time in underground robot fight clubs than do something productive with his gifts. > Read more.
Bella’s feels – and tastes – like Italy should
Short Pump is known for its share of chain restaurants and strip malls, but diners looking for something more distinct can certainly find it without heading downtown or to nearby Charlottesville.
In fact, local husband-and-wife restaurateurs Valeria Bisenti and Doug Muir brought a taste of Charlottesville (and Italy) to Short Pump when they took a chance and opened Bella’s second location in the same shopping strip as Wal-Mart and Peter Chang China Cafe. (Bella’s original location is on Main Street in downtown Charlottesville.)
For a local Italian restaurant, Bella’s is as “Mom and Pop” as its gets. Valeria is Mom, and Doug is Pop. Since its opening about six months ago, diners have been eating rich comfort foods and drinking Italian wines. > Read more.
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