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New Barrio Logan Radio Station Ready To Start Broadcasting

Evening Edition
Audio

Aired 5/13/14

Barrio Logan officially is "radio active." Well, almost.

Barrio Logan officially is "radio active." Well, almost.

A new community radio station called Radio Pulso del Barrio is about to start broadcasting out of Bread & Salt, a huge shared artist’s space in Barrio Logan that started life as a Weber’s bread bakery.

Artist Roberto Salas showed the way around the radio station’s future home, winding his way through narrow halls, up a set of steep stairs and through a graffiti-scrawled men’s locker room.

“Eventually when this is remodeled, we’ll have this as a green room,” he said.

The windows in the future radio studio open out over Chicano Park with a partial view of the Coronado Bridge.

“We hope to give reports on traffic,” Salas said, laughing.

El Pulso del Barrio means “The Pulse of the Barrio,” or, alternately, “The Barrio’s Heartbeat.” It will be a bilingual, low-power station for neighborhoods around the Greater Logan Heights area, the only one of its kind in San Diego. Salas hopes the station will showcase the rich arts and music community south of Interstate 8.

Salas got interested in community radio when he lived in the Central Valley and first heard Radio Bilingue out of Fresno, which is the only Spanish-language public radio service in the country.

“I knew some of the people who were just starting like we’re starting now. It was grassroots, a few grants… but you would not believe how that opened up the world there for people,” he said.

The radio station will showcase stories about neighborhood events and art shows. It will also serve as a hands-on learning lab for young people who want to try the basics of radio and journalism.

Sixteen-year-old Karla Chavez, who will host a weekly “teen hour” on El Pulso del Barrio, said that it will be a way for young people to hang out and socialize.

“I think (it will be) for us to invite teen people, like my age, to come and get help for homework or… here, like, have a hangout or have little meetings, talk about what’s going on in your lives, stuff like that,” Chavez said.

The funding for Radio Pulso del Barrio comes from grants through Open Spaces, an outreach program from the San Diego Museum of Arts.

“We look for some activists, we look for some organizations who have worked with youth, or community centers, galleries, different people who do different things within their communities, and then we have meetings with those people,” Open Spaces project coordinator and artist Irma Esquivias said.

“We, of course, invite residents and other people who are interested in creating public art, and then we begin a dialogue about, what would you like to see in your community? Do you want to see a sculpture, do you want to see a mosaic? Is there an ongoing effort that we can support?”

Esquivias said the Greater Logan Heights community voted overwhelmingly for a radio station that would support the arts, since they already have a lively and vibrant arts scene.

One of the many murals at Barrio Logan's Chicano Park, April 27, 2014.

“You know, one of the things that myself, as an artist, say — we have galleries that don’t have enough programming. So activating a space with art — why aren’t we just activating those spaces?” she said.

The most important component of the station is education: educating people about the area’s history and culture, and helping students get interested in education overall, according to Radio Pulso del Barrio board president Devonna Almagro.

“There’s a lot of groups in the community that are doing great things for our kids with after school programming, college readiness… and we’ll have some of those hours talking to these experts, talking to teachers, educators,” she said.

Not only that, but people will have the opportunity to conduct live and recorded interviews, write news stories and learn the basics of broadcast journalism.

Once the transmitter is up and running, which should be within the next few weeks, the station will be heard on AM 1600 within the Greater Logan Heights area. Very low power AM stations that cover only a few blocks can operate without a Federal Communications Commission license. The signal will also stream at www.radiopulsodelbarrio.com.

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