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Trying To Run Somalia and Other Radio Stories

— This week an NPR story held me hostage in my car. They’re called driveway moments though this one was in a parking garage. The story was about Somalia. It was one of a series of pieces assembled by Frank Langfitt that reminded me why I got into public radio.

Listen to it if you haven’t heard it before. In the story you hear the voices of former Somali expats who have moved back to try to build some kind of government in a chaotic land that barely exists as a nation. The man who’s serving as prime minister moved back from Buffalo, where he was working for the New York Department of Transportation. The minister of education had worked in IT management in northern Virginia.

Hearing their middle-class American accents amid the gunfire and mortar rounds gave the piece a surreal quality. This story also featured the terrifying racket of automatic gunfire as it cut down innocent people at a cultural festival. Being a radio reporter I immediately wondered who captured that deadly sound. Langfitt credited the recording to a Somali reporter.

San Diego is second only to Minneapolis-St. Paul among American cities in its Somali population. The NPR series makes it clear why those Somalis came here. It remains unclear to me why any of them would want to go back. Abdulkareem Jama, the IT guy, said in Langfitt’s story that told his wife he wanted to go back and “she thought I was nuts.” Maybe she was right.

Boosting KPBS

Nobody tells me anything. So there I was, in conversation with one of our radio engineers, when I first heard that KPBS was planning a dramatic upgrade of its FM radio signal. Here’s a little background.

The station has been trying for years to relocate its transmitter from Mt. Miguel in the east of San Diego to Mt. Soledad in La Jolla. I’m told we now have an FCC permit to do that and to boost our signal ten-fold to 27,000 watts.

I’ve followed this saga for as long as I’ve lived here and it’s been frustrating to me to drive to North County, or to San Ysidro, and hear our radio signal peter out. But maybe those days are over. Our permit requires the work to get done in the next two years, though it may happen well before that. Stay tuned, as they say. You folks in the broadcasting hinterlands may actually be able to finally tune in.

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Avatar for user 'Greg Duch'

Greg Duch | March 2, 2011 at 6:53 p.m. ― 6 years ago

I've been feeling awfully alone and forgotten by KPBS here in San Ysidro. I receive Mexican public radio from Tijuana LOUD AND CLEAR. BUT--There is not even a hint of a radio signal from KPBS reaching this neighborhood of the CITY of SAN DIEGO. This is San Diego's doorway to Latin America. A lot goes on here. We are the world's busiest border crossing, where North America and Latin America intersect culturally, economically, AND socially at a very profound level. Mexico and the US WILL BE inextricably tied, as our separate and common futures unfold. Both countries need each other as amicable, cooperative neighbors. I assure you, both the South Bay area and KPBS have much to offer each other. VIVA KPBS! Repito, I receive public radio from Tijuana LOUD AND CLEAR! Que se puede recibir tu senale de KPBS pronto. It is firmly in the public interest; and in keeping with public radio's mandate to further knowledge, culture, current events information, and understanding among the peoples of both metro areas--San Diego and Tijuana; and both countries US and Mexico.

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Avatar for user 'SDNomad'

SDNomad | March 23, 2011 at 9:50 a.m. ― 6 years ago

San Diego does NOT have the second highest Somali population in the US. It is a complete fabrication by Horn of Africa, a clan-based (Ogadenis only) community run by illiterate individuals who want to mislead the public. No one can deny that there is a large Somali presence in SD but there are other places for instance Ohio, Virginia, and Seattle that host larger numbers.

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