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caption: Radio Cadena founders and volunteers in front of the transmitter shack overlooking the Yakima Valley. From bottom, left to right: Roberto Alvizo, Martha Valadez, Bernice Zuniga, Dan Roble, Ezequiel Ramirez, Bee Gee Ochoa, Rosa Ramón, Mario Z. Alvarez, and Estella Del Villar.
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Radio Cadena founders and volunteers in front of the transmitter shack overlooking the Yakima Valley. From bottom, left to right: Roberto Alvizo, Martha Valadez, Bernice Zuniga, Dan Roble, Ezequiel Ramirez, Bee Gee Ochoa, Rosa Ramón, Mario Z. Alvarez, and Estella Del Villar.
Credit: Photo courtesy of Rosa Ramón

Voice of the farmworker: How Spanish-language radio cultivated community in Yakima Valley

In the public radio world, we talk a lot about our mission to engage and serve all communities. But historically, we haven’t done a great job of that.

Since NPR's start in 1971, most of our programming has been English-language.

That coverage gap hasn't gone unnoticed.

In 1976, in an abandoned fire station on First Hill in Seattle, a group of Chicano and Chicana organizers came together to create a Spanish-language community radio station called Radio Cadena, which translates to "chain" or "link" in English.

Back in the 1970s or 1980s, if you were looking for a Spanish-language broadcast to give you the latest information about Chicano activism — or the farmworker labor movement — you'd tune into Radio Cadena.

The station became appointment radio for Spanish-language news, music, and community events. The station became known for its open-door policy, and for hiring employees without a formal background in radio.

Monica De La Torre chronicled the rise of Radio Cadena in her new book, "Feminista Frequencies: Community Building through Radio in the Yakima Valley."

Soundside host Libby Denkman talked to De La Torre about the groundbreaking Spanish-language programming Radio Cadena produced, and the women behind the station.

And if you want to talk a listen to Radio KDNA, but you're not in the Yakima Valley, you can stream the station online at kdna.org.

caption: KDNA staffer Celia Prieto.
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KDNA staffer Celia Prieto.
Credit: Photo courtesy of Rosa Ramón
caption: KDNA founders Rosa Ramón (far left) and Dan Roble (left).
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KDNA founders Rosa Ramón (far left) and Dan Roble (left).
Credit: Photo courtesy of Rosa Ramón
caption: KDNA staff (left to right): Bernice Zuniga, Celia Prieto, and Rosa Ramón with volunteers Ricardo García and Ninfa Gutiérrez.
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KDNA staff (left to right): Bernice Zuniga, Celia Prieto, and Rosa Ramón with volunteers Ricardo García and Ninfa Gutiérrez.
Credit: Photo courtesy of Rosa Ramón