Radio from Below: A Demand in Denver

cory - Posted on 17 April 2010

Right outside Denver, in Aurora, Colorado lies a privately run Immigrant Detention Center. Just as the radio program, Holla to the Hood, broadcast out of WMMT in Kentucky crosses into the prison walls, people in Aurora are broadcasting into the detention center. One woman who is involved with Coloradans for Immigrant Rights, was detained there and when she got out, she started a program in which detainees can call in and provide emotional support to other people locked up. She rents time on a Commercial Christian station as there is no community station in the area. We also held a workshop at the Centro Humanitario with their members, Rights for all and folks with Committee in the Defense of the People who used to host a radio program on a Commercial Spanish Language station and highlight abuses at work, information about worker's rights and other human rights issues impacting immigrant commuities.. They had to stop doing the program, as they could not afford the high costs for renting the space.

This story is all to familiar, as many latino immigrant communities nationwide have no affordable outlet for their communities' news and information. Radio Movimiento in Woodburn Oregon, started their own farmworker led LPFM station after the commercial station they were renting time from kicked them off the air. The station didn't want to allow them to talk about abuses in the fields, because company bosses had complained to the station.

Fortunately, Denver does have one vibrant community radio station KGNU, however most of the programming is in English.   We were interviewed on their daily afternoon talk show by Shareef Aleem, who works with West Denver Copwatch a group that uses video and other multimedia forms to document and try to prevent police violence and abuse. You can listen to the interview here. He told us that their station was really useful for mobilizing the community around the large immigrant rights marches in 2006 as well as the protests of the Democratic National Convention in 2007.