WBEZ | Silvia Rivera http://www.wbez.org/tags/silvia-rivera Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Latino youths organize for control of Radio Arte http://www.wbez.org/story/latino-youths-organize-control-radio-arte-86809 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-May/2011-05-19/Zavala1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Some young radio producers are organizing for control of the Chicago area’s only noncommercial Latino broadcast outlet.</p><p>They’re upset about plans by the National Museum of Mexican Art to sell the building and license of WRTE-FM Chicago (90.5), a youth-run station known as Radio Arte that airs music and public affairs content in English and Spanish.</p><p>Transmitting at 73 watts from Little Village, Radio Arte reaches several other Latino neighborhoods of the city’s Southwest Side and some nearby suburbs.</p><p>The station also trains hundreds of volunteers a year and puts dozens on the air each week. Some have formed a group to try to keep the station in their community’s hands.</p><p>Many of these volunteers share a bond: They don’t have papers to be living in the United States.</p><p>“Radio Arte helped me learn to fight back,” said volunteer Adriana Velázquez, 20, who arrived in the Back of the Yards neighborhood from Mexico at age 11.</p><p>Velázquez graduated from Benito Juárez Community Academy in nearby Pilsen and dreamed of going to college. But her immigration status disqualified her from most financing.</p><p>“So I felt like all I had done all these years in high school — being a good student, a good member of the community — was not worth [anything] to people,” she said Thursday.</p><p>Velázquez said her life changed in 2008, when she started working on a Radio Arte show, <em>Salud: Healing Through the Arts</em>. “That summer was when I started really talking about my status and sharing that with other students who were also going through my situation,” she said.</p><p>“It was kind of a relief to feel [at] home somewhere, not feeling ashamed that I was undocumented,” said Velázquez, now a music-performance student at Northeastern Illinois University.</p><p>Velázquez and the other volunteers want control of Radio Arte’s name, license and transmitter. But they haven’t won over museum officials.</p><p>President Carlos Tortolero said the volunteers were making too much of the museum’s plans. “Radio, to a lot of funders, is old school,” he said. “And we can still do radio classes without a radio station. A lot of people are streaming now online and podcasting.”</p><p>Tortolero said selling the building and radio license would free up resources for projects in other media such as video and computer graphics.</p><p>The Radio Arte volunteers counter that terrestrial radio signals still reach much bigger audiences than web streaming and podcasting do. “That’s especially true in immigrant and low-income communities,” Velázquez said.</p><p>The license’s market value is not clear. Radio Arte staffers say the museum paid $12,000 for it in 1996.</p><p>Tortolero said the museum hasn’t received any offers yet but adds he’s talking with potential buyers, including DePaul University and California-based Radio Bilingüe. He has also met twice with Torey Malatia, chief of Chicago Public Media, the parent of WBEZ.</p><p>Interviewed Wednesday, Malatia said his organization would not have cash for the license at this point. But Chicago Public Media is preparing a proposal to “help with operations and costs,” he said.</p><p>“We deeply respect Radio Arte’s mission,” Malatia said. “If we get involved, we would keep the tradition alive.”</p><p>Malatia said Chicago Public Media would connect Radio Arte to WBEW-FM (89.5), a youth-oriented station known as Vocalo that transmits from Chesterton, Indiana. Vocalo Managing Director Silvia Rivera worked at Radio Arte for more than a decade, including three years as general manager.</p><p>If the Chicago Public Media proposal were accepted, Radio Arte likely would continue broadcasting student- and volunteer-run shows, while “primetime blocks would be simulcast” with Vocalo, according to Malatia.</p><p>“As this story gets out,” Malatia added, “it puts pressure on DePaul and [Radio Bilingüe] to close the deal, and probably will pull some religious buyers into the mix.”</p><p>The building, 1401 W. 18th St., houses Radio Arte’s offices and studios as well as Yollocalli Arts Reach, another youth program of the museum. The wedge-shaped structure has two stories and a partly finished basement. Tortolero said the space totals about 11,000 square feet.</p><p>The museum had a real-estate appraiser look over the building this month but Tortolero said his team has not yet set the asking price.</p><p>The building stands on the corner of Blue Island Avenue and 18th Street. The intersection includes a Mexican-themed plaza that serves as a cultural anchor of Pilsen, a neighborhood whose Latino population has been shrinking.</p><p>The volunteers say they won’t try to buy the building.</p></p> Fri, 20 May 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/latino-youths-organize-control-radio-arte-86809