The dream of building a community radio station in Santa Ana took a huge step towards becoming a reality this week. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved a license application on Monday for local non-profits Latino Health Access and El Centro Cultural de México. Within a year-and-a-half listeners will be able to tune into Radio Santa Ana on 104.7FM!
"It feels awesome!" says Luis Sarmiento, a Radio Santa Ana volunteer. "This is the most difficult step. The FCC's decision is the biggest hurdle in this process."
Free non-commercial low-power FM frequencies became available to non-profits and churches in greater numbers following the passage of the Local Community Radio Act in 2011. The applications came flooding in all over the nation while hopeful groups like the Centro could do nothing but wait.
Two Christian church groups from Corona and Huntington Beach also vied for the coveted license, but the SanTana non-profits had an edge. "Latino Health Access and the Centro made a time share agreement," says Sarmiento. That means the two decided to share the license if granted which made them an overall more favorable candidate. "Finally, the FCC got to our group and they decided to give it to us."
Before going terrestrial, Radio Santa Ana has been busy honing its craft online. Under the banner of "De la comunidad, para la comunidad" (Of the community, for the community), the internet station has a solid live-streaming programming schedule from 8 a.m. - 10 p.m daily. Shows offer everything from local news and opinion to son jarocho and Latin alternative music.
Radio Santa Ana holds workshops on creating programs and how to conduct interviews readying for the future. "We still have a long way to go in terms of building our station," Sarmiento says. "Now our big challenge is going to be putting together our studio, transmitter and equipment." For its part, Latino Health Access is interested in doing call-in shows around women's issues.
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"Both Latino Health Access and the Centro, each in their own way, are tied to so many community efforts, that getting local voices on the air will be easy," says Sarmiento. "Our mission as community radio is to be a source of educational programming which includes music and news."
Keep it tuned!