Radio Tierra will bridge two cultures

A dream long in the making is getting closer to reality for a group of Hood River residents. Dardo Salas, along with seven board members — and many volunteers — of the non-profit Radio Tierra, hope to launch a community radio station in the central Gorge within the next few months.

The station will play a variety of multi-cultural music and broadcast programs in English and Spanish.

“We want to be a bridge between the two cultures,” said Salas, who has been working on the project for two years. In March, the FCC granted Radio Tierra a construction permit for a low power FM station — meaning transmitting at a maximum of 100 watts. The station has 18 months from the time the permit was granted to begin broadcasting or it will lose the permit.

Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital has given Radio Tierra permission to mount a tower at the hospital — an ideal location for transmitting around Hood River and across the river to a range of about 10 miles. In return, the hospital will be able to broadcast health-related information to the community.

Radio Tierra’s board needs to raise about $14,000 for equipment, according to Salas. It has applied for a Lion’s Club grant and is doing other fundraising in the community. Half the proceeds from this weekend’s Hoodstock music festival at the Hood River Marina will go toward the radio station.

In addition to funding, Radio Tierra is seeking a small space for a studio. A temporary recording studio has been set up where those involved in the station have already begun pre-recording programs for use when the station gets up and running. A music library has been started and proposals are being accepted by community members and groups for radio shows.

“Anyone can have their own program, even people with a terrible voice,” Salas said. “You can speak on the radio, the only condition is that you respect everyone.” Salas says the station’s goal is to offer a wide variety of voices and perspectives within the community, as well as provide vital information about meetings and other community events that the area’s Spanish-speakers might not get anywhere else.

“We want to serve the community in the best way we can,” he said. The station will also play a variety of music, with an emphasis on Latin American music and local bands that don’t get radio play elsewhere.

Radio Tierra — tierra means “earth” — gets its name from the founders’ belief that the earth is what ties us all together.

“We all play in the tierra,” Salas said. “The tierra is something that touches us all together, all the community.” For Salas, getting Radio Tierra on the air means all that and more.

“In the news we hear about bombs and war, but we don’t hear about when your neighbor gives you flowers,” he said. “There are a lot of good things happening. This is what pushed me to get this going.”

For information about Radio Tierra go to www.radiotierra.org or call 387-3772.

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