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Central Valley Radio Station Stands In As A Cultural ‘Town Hall’ For Local Hmong And Punjabi-Speaking Communities

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Since the late ’80s, KBIF has slowly but steadily cultivated a niche for itself by serving as a cultural hub for Fresno’s Hmong and Punjabi communities.

Speaker 1: 00:00 There are 250 am radio stations in California, each a window into a different cultural community in Fresno. A station called K B I f is changing along with the central valley as part of our California dream collaboration. Julia metric visited the station and she brings us this story. In 1954 when KBF went on the air, it was a big band station, but evangelical radio was on the rise and by the early sixties the format changed. We used to be a real hot area for tent revivals. Tony Denatto is KBI F's general manager. He started working here in high school, 1979 he says back then, pastors from the Bible belt hosted live radio shows and they would have a tent revival over on Dakota and Hughes Avenue come this Friday, Saturday and Sunday for our tent revival and get healed. In the 80s and nineties immigration was changing the central valley. Fresno became home to mung refugees fleeing Laos and Vietnam and Punjabi immigrants from India

Speaker 2: 01:09 [inaudible].

Speaker 1: 01:09 So in the late eighties KBI ef added Punjabi music, religious programs, and local talk shows. The next time to buddy a kid saga. So please audit a gallon [inaudible] share. Gil, he's had a weekend show for 16 years. He and his family came to Fresno from the Punjab region of India during a large migration that began in the 90s he was 14 the Punjabi American community in the Fresno County area. They were kind of lost. I felt I was lost, so that was my approach. I was like, you know, we need to do something about it or it's better than media, better than a radio.

Speaker 2: 01:42 Y'All have to pick the name tickets. [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 01:48 oh please. Punjabi hip hop. He also talks about issues. He thinks matter to the local Punjabi community, water security, immigration, hate crimes. He says Punjabi truckers or some of his bedrock supporters. Like about two weeks ago, one of the trucker he was driving when my show was on, he parked his truck and he said, I'm going to listen to the whole thing before I go on growing up. As soon as you know the weekend hit like our radio dial and 2:00 AM 900 that's non deep. Sing a community organizer in Fresno. We meet at a restaurant sync calls the station part town hall part bizarre. You might catch health tips on avoiding hypertension. A few minutes later people are talking politics in the corner. People are just trying to find out the latest music on the side. People are talking about what's happening in the trucking industry and you will run through the litany of that on any given Saturday, but on weekdays the station broadcast talk shows music and adds in Hmong ancient love Reiki lamps, inspection [inaudible] Michael Yang hosts a weekly show with farming advice for about a thousand mung farmers who call Fresno home.

Speaker 1: 02:53 He's been doing it for 20 years. He lists market prices for Asian specialty vegetables that a male and Bok Choy, daikon and long beans on says getting this price check helps mung farmers avoid getting cheated by buyers. During the Collin segment of the show, Yank takes questions from folks listening in their pickups and in the fields they ask, you know, Oh, I have this bugs that are eating my crops and I don't know what chemical to use. Can you come in and look at it? And he does. Looking ahead. One challenge for K, Bif for both the Mung and Punjabi shows is how to get and keep younger listeners. Many are bilingual and there's tons of other media out there for them. So I asked Saturday host, girl, deep share gill, any interest in podcasting? It'll actually a, firstly for me, I like it live like I want to be natural, like I want people to see if I have to even do Leno, it's okay because I'm a human. Okay. And that's what KBF tries to do. Reflect the humanness of this stretch of the central valley and all the ways it continues to change in Fresno. I'm Juliet metric.

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KPBS Midday Edition Segments

Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.