At WIOX, the community radio station broadcasting from the Delaware County town of Roxbury, most shows are initiated by a host who pitches an idea based on her or his own passion. Among the station’s 85 volunteers are Stan Bullock playing live jam recordings, mechanic Norman Leavitt talking about cars, and Ginny Scheer on Catskills traditions and mountain music. In the case of two new shows, it was the volunteers already active at the station who reached out last year to see if anyone in the Spanish-speaking community wanted to host a program.
On the air since December, Unidos Por Las Montañas is a show in Spanish broadcast on Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., with music and talk by Francisco Duque, Maria Silvia Castañeda Duque, and Raul Silva, Margaretville residents originally from Mexico. “They told us the Spanish community in the central Catskills has many different groups,” said Susan Shaw, whose program of New Orleans music has been on the air since 2011. “They wanted to put together a show where all different voices would be heard.”
“When we hear someone talking about our own issues in our own language, that’s great,” said Francisco. He speaks English, but he said most of the Latino people he knows are working too much to take the time to study English. “When we came, all of us, 25, 35, 10, or five years ago, we didn’t know a lot of English, but we found the community gave us a warm welcome. The English-speaking people have been trying to learn some Spanish to communicate with us. It encourages us, and more Spanish people are trying to learn English. The barrier is getting lower.”
For those English speakers studying Spanish, the show is ideal for listening practice. Unlike the fast-talking DJs on stations in the New York City area, Francisco, Silvia, and Raul speak at a leisurely pace. On their February 16 show, Silvia gave a history of Valentine’s Day around the world. Among the musical offerings was a song by a group from the state of Oaxaca, followed by comments about the region and a mention of Oaxacan actress Yalitza Aparicio, recently nominated for an Oscar for her role in the film Roma. “Usually when we play some music,” said Francisco, “we like to talk about the meaning, how we are connected to each other with that song, with a particular time, how was the life of that time.”
They also discuss issues such as the disconnect that happens when the children of immigrants spend so much of their time in school. “We have a different culture, so when our kids are growing, we have a conflict,” Francisco explained. “We feel they don’t listen, they don’t want to do what we say, and they feel we don’t understand them. The immigrant community, when we talk about it, find they aren’t the only ones. They see they are not alone.”
A second show that resulted from last year’s community outreach is The Latin Quarter, an English-language music program named after the legendary New York City nightclub that opened in the 1940s. DJ Rosa Arruffat plays music from all over the Spanish-speaking world, including salsa, merengue, mariachi, cumbia, and the Celtic-influenced music of the region of Spain that her mother comes from. Arruffat also plays the Sephardic tunes of her mother’s heritage, sung in the medieval Ladino language. A favorite genre is symphonic salsa, which takes classical music and mixes it with salsa rhythms. Like her Saturday morning cohorts, she often discusses the songs, placing them in historical, cultural, or political context, but in English. “I’m also a drummer,” said Arraffat, “I played Latin jazz in college. I play a lot of Celia Cruz. If you can get those lyrics translated, do — they’re so beautiful.” Her show is on Tuesdays from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
The English-language program Rumba Therapy airs on alternate Fridays from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. It succeeded a salsa show hosted by Hank Schlitner, a.k.a. Papi Chulo, who passed away in 2017. For the past year, Mario Murillo, who formerly worked for WBAI, NPR, and Latino USA, has been playing what he calls “a pan-American mix, including salsa — both classic and new — and traditional Colombian rhythms, Afro-Caribbean, hybrid, pop, and synthesizer music.” He also incorporates interviews on culture and politics, as well as news such as an analysis of the crisis in Venezuela.
WIOX is about to significantly expand its broadcasting range. It can heard over the Internet at wioxradio.org, but for radio audiences, the signal coming from the transmitter atop the former Masonic Lodge in Roxbury currently reaches east only a little beyond Big Indian. A new transmitter is awaiting installation on a tower in Grand Gorge that will increase the station’s reach 10-fold in all directions and is expected to be up and running this spring.
Meanwhile, listeners to the east have access several Spanish-language shows on Radio Kingston at WKNY at 1490 am with an FM signal coming soon at 107.9, or online at https://radiokingston.org. There’s La Voz, broadcast weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon, in which journalists Mariel Fiori and Antonio Flores-Lobos host a program of information, interviews, music, and humor for Kingston’s Hispanic community. La Dosis Perfecta airs Friday nights from 7 to 9 p.m. and the bi-lingual Don’t Interrupt Me, Por Favor airs Sundays between 2 and 3 p.m.
Spanish on the air
On WIOX Roxbury at 91.3 FM or https://wioxradio.org:
- Unidos Por Las Montañas, in Spanish, Saturdays, 9-10 a.m.
- The Latin Quarter, in English, Tuesdays, 2-4 p.m.
- Rumba Therapy, in English, alternate Fridays, 8-10 p.m.
On WKNY Kingston at 107.p or https://radiokingston.org:
- La Voz, in Spanish, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.-noon.
- La Dosis Perfecta, Friday nights from 7 to 9 p.m.
- Don’t Interrupt Me, Por Favor, Sundays between 2 and 3 p.m.