Op-Ed

Community radio allows diverse voices to tell their own stories

Mark J. Royse is general manager and executive director of Lexington Community Radio.
Mark J. Royse is general manager and executive director of Lexington Community Radio.

Record-busting crowds of citizens turned out during the recent election. An unprecedented number of women and minorities stepped up to lead and won. We seemed to affirm poet June Jordan’s words, “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

Lexington Community Radio understands the power of the people. Our station is — literally — the voice of the community. Over 160 of your friends and neighbors create hyper-local content 24/7 in English and in Spanish.

Why hyper-local? Corporations have bought up radio stations and media outlets all across the country. Per Morris Creative Group, six corporations now own 90 percent of media outlets in America. Economies of scale and corporate philosophy shape public discourse. Generic, watered-down content broadcasts without regard to local culture or community.

For a decade, media-justice activists advocated more public access to the airwaves. The Local Community Radio Act finally passed in 2011. The FCC made a limited number of new low-power FM licenses available. Lexington Community Radio founder Debra Hensley seized the opportunity. She worked with local and national radio experts and with local neighborhood leaders. There was only a 30-day window to apply nationwide. Lexington acquired not one, but two of these rare licenses.

The Hispanic and Latino community in Lexington was growing. Hensley realized community radio could help provide critical public safety information in Spanish. It could also serve as a resource to connect isolated neighborhoods.

Lexington Community Radio’s mission includes amplifying underrepresented voices. We promote equality by engaging and supporting diverse views. Women, people of colo, and the LGBT community tell their own stories on our airwaves. Their narrative is not edited for them by others.

Over the past three years, Lexington citizens have created two exciting stations. Each showcases the depth of diversity in our community. We broadcast on-air on WLXU 93.9FM and on WLXL ‘El Pulso Latino’ 95.7FM. You can also download our mobile apps or stream online at lexingtoncommunityradio.org.

Folks tune in to hear the latest in local music and sounds from Central and South America. Audiophiles deep dive into jazz and old-school R&B & hip-hop. Chef Ouita Michel and friends talk Kentucky food and agriculture. Others explore the state’s emerging hemp economy and issues of food justice. Folks from the neighborhood bring you stories and conversations important to you.

We host local officials and political candidates. We offer citizens direct engagement with their representatives. We also work to promote public safety & wellness. The Health Department and the Division of Emergency Management are our collaborators.

Our bilingual community radio is a resource unlike any other in the nation. Check out the variety of shows and discover more about your community than you ever imagined. Lexington Community Radio is 100 percent funded by our listeners and the community we serve.

In a time of hostility toward a free press, it is more important than ever for people to claim their voice and speak out. To keep our station strong and independent, it must be powered by the people it serves.

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