The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

December 2, 2013

Group wants to start Somali-American radio station

Station would aim to tell English of Somali immigrant stories

ST. CLOUD — A St. Cloud group wants to start a low-power FM radio station that would broadcast news and music for Somali-Americans.

For more than a year, KVSC-FM at St. Cloud State University and the nonprofit St. Cloud Area Somali Salvation Organization, or SASSO, worked together to create St. Cloud Somali Radio. In a project funded partially by a state grant, community members launched a 24-hour webstream of Somali music and news in March, according to Minnesota Public Radio (http://bit.ly/1ewNbno ) report.

Expanding to the airwaves is the next logical step, SASSO executive director Mohamoud Mohamed said. The station will serve an estimated 13,000 Somali-American immigrants in the area, he said.

"We need to have the means of communication when we need to communicate about education, health, civic engagement, many other areas," Mohamed said. "We need a mass communication mechanism like the radio."

Much of the content will be in Somali, but some will be in English.

St. Cloud Somali Radio founder Haji Yusuf said the web version of the station already runs some original interviews and discussions. But the low-power broadcast license will allow the station to expand their offerings.

"We'll be able to teach the English-speaking population in St. Cloud about who the immigrants themselves are, they'll be able to tell their own story," Yusuf said. "We have a history, just like anyone else who came to this country, the people who have been here longer will see the similarities with them because their ancestors came here as well."

KVSC helped launch the webstream, but Operations Director Jim Gray said that under the low-power license, KVSC will let SASSO and volunteers from the Somali community run the station. KVSC plan to lease space to the fledgling operation.

Federal Communications Commission attorney Margo Davenport said Monday they have received the application but it could take months to review.

Organizers hope to have the station broadcasting over the air by spring. The signal will be strong enough to be heard within seven miles, which will cover St. Cloud and a couple nearby towns. They're in the process of training community volunteers to use the equipment and run the station.

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