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You Can Hear Us Now: The Story of Radio Movimiento, “La Voz del Pueblo”

Taking mass communications with PCUN’s community base from someday to every day
By Larry Kleinman Introduction Farmworkers…by the thousands…from Mexico…in Oregon’s fertile Willamette Valley…who harvest fruits, vegetables, Christmas trees, grass seed, and nursery stock... hard labor for minimum wage and sometimes less…housed in cramped, dimly-lit, stuffy cabins, trailers, apartments...isolated. Farmworkers…by the handfuls… contemplating speaking out…to the labor contractors…the growers…to other workers…to the community. Conditions must be improved. How will anyone hear? If enough people heard, wouldn’t it make a difference? For a half century of growing seasons and harvests, this scene surely unfolded countless times. We don’t actually know how many times because no one heard. Workers generally didn’t speak out. Likely, it was fear of retaliation— firing, deportation, even violence—that stopped them. Workers often lacked the support they needed and deserved. Even so, where could a worker expect to go to reach enough people? On November 20, 2006, something in this scene changed fundamentally. Farmworkers and other immigrant workers suddenly had an outlet, one that could reach thousands. A radio station: Radio Movimiento, La Voz del Pueblo. That’s “The People’s Voice,” broadcasting on 96.3 FM in Woodburn, Oregon. Did Radio Movimiento make the difference? And what—or who—created a station called “Movement Radio”? It took a Movement: Ours Founding Radio Movimiento surfaced as a recognizable flow in 2006. But the headwaters extend far back, even before the point when our Movement first became a sustained trickle in Oregon. That occurred in 1977, when a small

collection of students and leaders in the Mexican community joined with progressive lawyers and legal workers in Portland, myself included, to found the Willamette Valley Immigration Project. The Project set out to be a “David” taking on the Immigration and Naturalization Service “Goliath” and their raids reigning terror on the community. Eight years later, the Project broadened the Movement’s mission to challenge a second Goliath—Oregon’s multi-billion dollar agricultural-industrial complex. In 1985, the Project facilitated the birth of PCUN, Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste, Oregon’s farmworker union. Today, PCUN is Oregon’s largest Latino organization and the primary organizational engine propelling and steering our Movement, now composed of nine inter-related organizations, with combined annual operating budgets exceeding $2,000,000, employing fifty staff in three Willamette Valley cities. Together, these organizations reach and engage an astounding variety of people and entities: farmworkers, Latino youth, new immigrants, new citizens, immigrants leaving agricultural for construction and service work; allies in small business, labor unions, religious congregations, students, environmentalists; human rights, civil liberties and community groups; the media, public officials, law enforcement, local educators, growers, consumers and financial institutions. Our Movement’s work is similarly comprehensive. We organize in the workplace for respect and fair treatment. We raise public awareness and understanding of farmworkers and immigrants. We build coalitions and alliances. We advocate and lobby for farmworker rights and immigrants rights, and for educational equity. We hold government and agribusiness corporations accountable. We bring lawsuits to outlaw dangerous pesticides and to overturn laws discriminating against workers. We build farmworker housing in town—not hidden off in the countryside—and manage it with farmworker participation. We help families gain legal immigration status. We organize adult education programs, economic self-help, and cultural activities. The list could go on. Radio Movimiento, PCUN’s low-power FM radio station, unquestionably qualifies as one of the “seven wonders of the PCUN world.” Establishing it required Herculean efforts. Like all “wonders,” it put in our hands powerful new capacity. It significantly altered our self-image. It ushered in exponential change. Struggling to achieve it could well have left us dangerously weakened. Like all wonders, we built it to endure and make us stronger. Building it certainly did.

Part I: Radio at the Heart of the Spanish-speaking community In virtually all Latino immigrant communities, Spanish-language radio has served as the mass communications medium. The combination of low-cost listener access, circumvention of literacy barriers, coverage in a sizeable geographic area, cultural and entertainment content, and immigrants’ hunger for connection with each other and with reminders of home bonded the community to radio. Radio, in turn, coalesced and shaped the community, propelling social and commercial interactions (dances, civic events, fledgling Latino-owned specialty stores, employment opportunities). Listening to Spanish-language radio became the simplest, most available means to combat isolation and alienation and to foster in its place a sense of belonging. By the late 1970s, the town of Woodburn had become well established as a cultural and commercial center for the Willamette Valley’s farmworker community. Latinos then comprised a third of the town’s 9,000 inhabitants. In 2007, the town’s population surpassed 23,000. The 2000 Census officially determined that Latinos make up the majority and the percentage of Latinos continues to increase. In the early 1970s, Spanish-language radio broadcast in the Willamette Valley was virtually unchallenged for Latino consumer loyalty. A few community newspapers, published weekly or monthly, came and went, but they were always marginalized by distribution challenges, literacy barriers, and lack of resources. Thirty-five years later, the Latino community’s exponential growth and the technology revolution have spawned a media explosion in radio but also around and competing with radio. From a single AM station broadcasting eight hours in Spanish every Saturday, radio in Spanish is now round-the-clock on three FM stations and four AM stations. Basic cable television packages include channels for Univision and Telemundo; deluxe cable and TV “dish” services offer dozens of channels direct from Mexico and other Latin American countries. Still, for adult immigrants, Spanish-language radio dominates, especially in workplaces and drive-time. In radio there remains the allure of “local” reflection, information, and even celebrity, akin to looking in the mirror—which no amount of national or international media can fully supplant. Our introduction to radio When the founders of the Willamette Valley Immigration Project arrived in the Valley in the mid-1970s, we encountered Spanish-language radio which was limited but well-entrenched. It seemed the height of efficiency and effectiveness for us to slip a DJ the text for a short public service announcement publicizing an

event or to wrangle a few minutes of live on-air conversation about a timely issue. This radio presence was always ad hoc and it didn’t always produce big turn-outs, but it did generate awareness. Without fail, folks would remark “I heard [you/that] on the radio”. We considered ourselves fortunate to have fairly regular radio access, thanks to personal relationships with the engineer, Hector Pichardo (who went by “Hector de la O” in radio land) and several of the regular DJs on KWRC, 940 AM in Woodburn. Like most rural Oregon AM radio stations, KWRC catered to a white, grower-oriented audience, playing country music and featuring the daily farm report. Bespeaking the strength of this identity, KWRC owners were delighted to obtain the “KWBY” call letters (replacing “KWRC”) and immediately dubbed their station “KoWBoY”. KWBY owners introduced Spanish programming as a commercial experiment and quickly saw its huge potential. However, their inability to understand the broadcast content left them ill-at ease. They made a businessdriven decision to gradually expand Spanish programming beyond Saturdays. The Latino DJs understood or sensed this. For most of them, it showed in their dealings with us. Since we were generally regarded as “trouble-makers” and/or activists engaging controversial issues, some DJs discouraged or even denied us access. Usually, their resistance stemmed from some mixture of motives. Almost all DJs were or became successful dance promoters—another testament to radio’s mobilization powers. If allowing us access cost a DJ his radio “job”, he’d lose his entrée for event promotion. Among the half dozen regular DJs were a labor contractor and a “notary public” who charged for immigration and documentation services (an unauthorized practice of law). They felt affronted or threatened by the content of some of our messages which criticized workplace exploitation or warned listeners not to patronize charlatans. One DJ was a conservative “good old boy” from Texas who simply disagreed with our political views. Frequently enough, our message conveyed an anti-exploitation tone or meaning which landed a little too close to home for those DJs. The Enciso brothers, José and Arturo, and Vicente López openly welcomed us, often devoting fifteen minutes to conversation. They chose to disregard the possibility of retaliation. We credited this to a combination of daring, genuine concern for community interest, and at least a pinch of personal image enhancement (i.e., as community “champion”). José was the most enthusiastic probably because he was, himself, a rabble-rouser. He had helped lead a walk-out by Chicano students at nearby Gervais High School in 1972. Of all the DJs, he employed the most

irreverent style and persona, unpredictably interjecting comedic banter in our (usually) serious topic. Hector de la O occupied a category of his own in three respects. First, he anchored the thirty-minute “community affairs” program at 12:30 which kicked off every Saturday afternoon of Spanish-language broadcast. Hector generally accommodated us, even if we gave him little or no advance notice, though sometimes he could spare us only a brief interlude. Second, he engineered the rest of the afternoon’s programming for the other DJs and sometimes took over in their absence. That meant greater opportunity for us and/or repeated announcement of our message. Third, Hector’s manner of dress, which few listeners would have imagined, ranged from military fatigues one week and Central American folkloric garb another, to cholo-style khakis and a Pendleton shirt the next. We came to count on access to KWBY, but it always seemed precarious. On any given week, we might be told that we had to “cool” it or “wait until next week”. Our on-air reports in May 1982 about the INS’s “Operation Jobs” raids in the Woodburn area stand out as one such occasion. INS agents roved the streets on and off for a week and set up a temporary checkpoint on Highway 99E in nearby Hubbard. Though we were careful not to advocate lawbreaking (e.g., abetting “harboring” of undocumented immigrants by describing how they might avoid detection), our accounts of immigrants’ non-cooperation and of our community vigilance patrols hit a nerve. Much as sympathetic DJs wanted the community—and knew the community itself wanted—to hear our information, they rushed us through it and then clearly signaled that we should “lay off” for a while. At a moment of greatest need and utility, radio access was suddenly in short supply. Even a PSA (public service announcement) became too much to ask. Our increasing activism and community base-building—largely focused on immigration, police and grower repression—placed an ever greater premium on radio broadcast access even as it wore our “welcome” at KWBY ever thinner. The atmosphere turned especially chilly in October 1983 when a Woodburn Police Sgt. Kay Boutwell shot and killed José Calvarin, a local farmworker, with little, if any justification. The Project responded by launching a new organization, the Community United for Justice, seeking police accountability, a topic way too hot for KWBY. Even during the times when crisis faded and the political weather thawed slightly, we felt increasingly cramped by the constraints inherent in being “guests.” Ideas like more in-depth feaures, such as worker interviews, was out of the question.

The idea of acquiring and operating our own radio station seemed as obvious as it was fanciful. That vision gained greater currency when César Chávez visited PCUN in December 1985 and described the United Farm Workers’ new station, KUFW. It was a full-power FM station located near Woodlake, in the heart of California’s San Joaquin Valley. The UFW cobbled together KUFW’s first “studios” in a shed-like structure a few miles out of town. Years later, KUFW pioneers regaled us with stories of mice—the building’s incumbent occupants—running across the equipment. KUFW broadcast eclectic and improvisational programming, heavy on DJs’ personal tastes and listener requests, “dedications”, and comments. Farmworkers would call in—or just show up—to denounce workplace mistreatment live, injecting an additional jolt of energy and immediacy. Before long, a firebomb had destroyed KUFW’s first home. Did anyone need more proof of radio’s agitational power? By 1992, Spanish-language radio in the Willamette Valley approached the “tipping point”. Two stations in the Mid-Willamette Valley (KWBY plus KWIP in Dallas, Oregon broadcasting on 880 AM) each carried programming in Spanish that had passed the 50% mark. In Spring 1992, KWIP in Dallas, Oregon converted to full-time Spanish; the resulting increased listenership and advertising revenue pulled the station out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. KWBY’s own full-time conversion occurred soon thereafter. A four-page memo we prepared in August 1990 succinctly summarized our options for station acquisition. The two “apply for a new frequency” options offered little because frequencies were not available. We focused mostly on the “buying an existing” one. Our research at the time revealed two opportunities: KYKN, a Salem-based AM station, for $160,000 (including a transmitting tower and 28 acres) and KWIP for $365,000 (reportedly a grossly inflated price). KYKN studios lease cost another $1,300 per month. Though $160,000 is a pittance by today’s standards, it was out of our league in 1990. Whatever disappointment we felt about missing our first shot at media ownership was eclipsed by the “sticker shock” triggered by visualizing running and funding a station in Dallas, thirty miles from Woodburn.

Part II: From “guest” to “producer”: La Hora Campesina The example of KUFW put us more decidedly on a path toward radio incumbency: if not our own station, at least to have our own show. To that end, we had applied in March 1989 to listener-sponsored KBOO, 90.7 FM in Portland for a weekly show to air on Sundays. For nearly two decades, KBOO had featured an extreme mix of volunteerdriven programming. We called it a chorizaso, containing any and everything, like its namesake, a popular kind of Mexican sausage. In the late 1970s, Spanishlanguage programming had come to occupy a few hours each week on KBOO. “There is not one single program which attempts to deal with issues facing the Mexican and farmworker community head on,” our application declared. A program on KBOO seemed feasible, especially since there was no charge. A Sunday slot best suited our volunteers’ availability, but building a loyal listener base in Woodburn willing to tune into KBOO would be a stretch. KBOO declined our request, apparently primarily for scheduling reasons; the KBOO programming committee expressed considerable support for PCUN and signaled that they would re-consider our application at some later date. In February 1990, PCUN Vice President and field organizer Ramón Ramírez got wind of a schedule opening at KWBY. Ironically, it was a slot previously filled by a notorious local labor contractor. Ramón approached the station management about buying a weekly radio slot: one hour, Sundays at 7:00 PM, for $100 a week. We gave them a vague description of our programming format and, to our surprise, they asked few questions and promptly agreed. We theorized that: (1) the general manager didn’t really know who we were; (2) he didn’t learn much from whomever he consulted among KWBY’s programming staff; (3) the programming staff vouched for us; or (3) KWBY management scrutinized “business” transactions differently than “community affairs.” Airing our show, La Hora Campesina, was just another revenue opportunity. For us, though, spending $5,200—the annual out-of-pocket cost for a weekly show—represented a considerable financial commitment. By way of reference, we had raised only about $90,000 in all of 1989. We sign a six-month contract on March 1, 1990 which, among other things, required either party to give two weeks notice to cancel the agreement. Our first show was scheduled to air the following Sunday, March 4th. We quickly assembled a small team, composed of Ramón and me, plus volunteers and PCUN members Javier Ceja, Rodolfo Matadamas. We had little or no radio experience, but we had a sufficiently good feel for programmatic flow— what music, how much talk between songs, conversational/matter-of-fact delivery

style, and topical themes. We pulled together long-play record albums, 45-RPM singles, and cassette tapes of both current popular and vintage “protest” music, much of it belonging to Ramón. We chose Levántate, Campesino by Mexican political activist and singer/composer José de Molina as our opening and closing theme song. Enterprisingly as always, Ramón moved to get us on the “comp” distribution list of the major Mexican and Chicano music record labels, bringing a regular flow of the latest releases on ‘45s’. It took us at least a couple of programs to get our flow down. Javier proved to be a natural—relaxed, low-key, engaging, and confident—whether reading a news item, conducting an interview, or commenting extemporaneously. His years as a political activist in rural Michoacan honed his ability to listen. His capacity to keep the audience in mind served him exceedingly well on the radio. He also brought a solid grounding in movement and political history, evident in his frequent commentaries on Mexican Revolution and resistance heroes. PCUN members had recognized Javier’s leadership qualities and elected him to the PCUN board at the organization’s first annual convention in 1985. Ramón brought his engaging vitality and personality, his pointed political commentary and his affinity for pop music. His Spanish vocabulary occasionally failed him. If Javier didn’t insert a quick correction or re-phrasing, the audience probably got the drift of Ramón’s meaning anyway. I played mostly an off-mic role, helping with production and copy editing, but I did occasionally conduct a pre-recorded interview. Our contract with KWBY gave us little access to the station’s limited facilities, shoe-horned into a small office suite in a Woodburn strip mall. We knew immediately that some of our best opportunities for broadcast content would not materialize at KWBY studios on Sundays between 7:00 and 8:00 PM. Workers came to PCUN on any given day with stories to tell. They might not be comfortable at the KWBY studio, or be able to get another ride into town. They might also simply get cold feet about speaking out publicly. To capture their stories, we assembled a simple recording room—too crude to call a “studio”—in PCUN headquarters’ “media center”, a 10-foot by 12-foot office containing the “light table” for newsletter and leaflet layout, now long-since rendered obsolete by computer desktop design. In the classic PCUN fashion, we scrounged donated, second-hand equipment—a primitive four-track mixer, stereo amp, tape deck, and single-tray CD player—and commandeered the two microphones and stands we had acquired to use as a make-shift public address system (plugging them into my two-channel Fender guitar amp). Somebody brought in a few pairs of earphones and a turntable. We set up it all up on a folding table, and La Hora Campesina productions was in business.

The studio not only made interviews possible, but also some rudimentary editing, screening new music, and pre-recording news items. We translated stories from local papers or adapted articles from La Opinion, Los Angeles’ Spanishlanguage daily paper to which we subscribed expressly to glean content for La Hora Campesina. Occasionally, LHC featured an original news story and even a few exclusives. The LHC team recruited Rodolfo’s brother, Felix who had a knack for rhyming poetry. He composed and read a few long pieces with political themes (“Poema de La Huelga” and “Poema de La Mujer”—Ode to the Strike, Ode to Women) but his signature material was four-line, slang-filled bits which Felix recited with appropriate voice inflections. These became a regular part of introducing or signing off the program, and earned him the nickname of “El Poeta”. Here’s one version (with loose translation) of his LHC sign-off message: No se me agüiten paisanos. Don’t lose heart on me, homies. Por hoy, nos vamos a callar. For today, we’re through. Pero acá nos uachamos el Martes But we’ll meet here Tuesday; No me vayan a fallar. I’m counting on you. Felix recruited several friends, also farmworkers, with a flair for performance. The trio became “Cholo, Lolo & Chuco”, characters in a radio theatre feature. They composed and recorded their own material, skits rarely longer than three minutes, which invariably riffed in street slang on an every-day example of workplace or community injustice. The format consisted of banter between the “victim”, the cynic/wisecracker, and the agitator, ending with a message of hope or a call to action. La Hora Campesina also produced and aired what could legitimately be described as “documentaries,” hour-long programs written, edited and produced as either retrospectives or special event coverage. About six weeks into LHC’s life on KWBY, we aired “Five Years of PCUN History” on the occasion of PCUN’s fifth anniversary, including selections from recordings of PCUN conventions, marches, rallies and other activities, knit together with a narration of scripted context and commentary. The “production values” (i.e., sound quality) were sketchy but the content and flow were respectable, even engaging. We recorded every installment of LHC and put it in the PCUN archives. This continued our custom of documenting our work, begun in PCUN’s earliest days. The recordings proved worthwhile by providing source material for LHC programming A program like the “Five Years” took the better part of two days to produce. The radio team put several hours into preparation for the average LHC show. Conceiving, producing and airing La Hora Campesina gave us valuable

experience and a gauge for what consistent, competent radio programming might actually require. Just as we hoped and believed, the LHC format and its time slot combined to make the show a hit. By 7 PM on Sunday evenings, most workers had returned home from food shopping or visiting relatives but not yet retired for the night. We never systematically measured our listenership, but several indicators suggested it was substantial. First, almost every show elicited a dozen or more calls to the station while LHC was airing. Second, PCUN members who came to the office commented on it. We even received an occasional letter asking that we announce something (e.g., seeking to make contact with a missing relative). Third, when we asked acquaintances “do you listen to La Hora Campesina?” many said that they did. Some who initially said “no” would proceed to relate a story we had broadcast on our program, indicating that although the show’s name and its association with PCUN hadn’t penetrated, the content proved memorable. Cliff Zauner owned KWBY and claimed to be a friend and supporter of the Latino community. A decade after LHC began, he would serve two terms in the Oregon House of Representatives as a Republican representing the Woodburn area and would seek to use his role in Spanish-language radio to somehow excuse his flagrantly anti-immigrant politics. In the first months of LHC broadcast, Zauner, would ask the main Spanish-language programming engineer, Jesus Morales, “how are they [PCUN] doing?” Jesus would say something to the effect of “they’re doing fine” and Zauner didn’t press him for details. Zauner didn’t speak or understand Spanish so he had no first-hand idea what his station was airing. We paid our $100 every week, on time. Things proceeded smoothly; no one had complained…yet. La Hora Campesina fights for its life One of LHC’s features inspired by KUFW was denuncias—worker statements about their (mis)treatment. In late June 1990, workers from Kraemer Farms in Mt. Angel, one of the Valley’s largest farms, responded to our field organizing presence at Kraemer’s strawberry and caneberry fields. We had gone there to hand out some of the 10,000 “red cards” we distributed that summer about minimum wage rights in harvest work paid by piece-rate. The cards encouraged workers to record their hours worked and report wage violations to PCUN. Three Kraemer Farms workers walked the eight miles to the PCUN offices from the Farms’ largest labor camp. They wanted to tell their stories and came to speak on behalf of dozens of their fellow workers. Javier recorded an interview in which they laid out their complaints. They described pay that amounted to less than half the minimum wage. They paid exorbitant charges for lodging and food

which sometimes consisting of “lard” tacos. Mandatory charges were deducted for rides to nearby fields, even if workers had their own cars or preferred to walk. PCUN organizers responding by seeking the intervention of agents from the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries. They arrived at the camp the following pay day, preventing Kraemer foreman and camp operator Pancho De La Cruz from enforcing paycheck deductions for these “services.” On previous paydays, those deductions had left many workers with barely pennies in net pay. Bureau agents’ visit coincided with the last pay period of the harvest season. Many workers left the area soon thereafter, depriving Pancho of any opportunity to somehow re-institute his scheme. He later complained that he “lost” $9,000 that day. We aired the interview on LHC on July 1st. On the 12th, Zauner called us into his office to inform us that he had received a complaint from Dan Kraemer about our program, and that he intended to terminate broadcast of LHC immediately. He lambasted us for hiding from him our intentions to delve into “controversies”, though he quickly conceded that we had said we’d cover labor issues. “You’re going to make me look like the bad guy”, he shot back. “I don’t have time for controversy on my radio station. I just want entertainment.” We offered Kraemer equal time on our program at our expense. Zauner dismissed the offer out of hand, saying “it would cost me money”, by which we presumed he meant advertisers friendly to the growers. He did admit that our program was popular, that it boosted listenership, and would be a boon to programming on an all-Spanish station. We played our final card: “What about our agreement which doesn’t expire until September and which guarantees us two weeks notice before KWBY cancels the program?” Zauner had his mind made up and we couldn’t “confuse” him with facts. LHC had aired on KWBY for the last time. “It’s over,” he decreed as he got up from his desk, “and so is this meeting.” LHC did not air on Sunday July 15th or on the following Sunday. KWBY broadcast no explanation for the change. To the average listener, we simply disappeared without a trace. In our Movement’s thirteen years of existence, we had sued county sheriffs, the Immigration Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, even the Oregon Governor to challenge and eliminate injustices. Faced with Zauner’s brazen and baseless repudiation of our contract, we again needed urgent and forceful judicial intervention, this time in the form of a court injunction ordering Zauner to honor our contract and air two final programs. The operative questions were whether we could we find a lawyer on very short notice to seek an injunction and whether a judge in conservative Marion County would issue one.

Since the very beginning, one of our Movement’s most critical and richest resource has been access to top-notch, pro-bono legal representation, mostly provided by National Lawyers Guild members. Founded in 1937 as the first multi-racial legal organization, the Guild has served as the legal arm of practically every progressive movement and struggle. Guild members in Oregon, myself included, had co-founded the Willamette Valley Immigration Project, cementing ties that would endure for decades. We would call upon Guild members not only to bring litigation to assert our rights. Their willingness to act would repeatedly discourage or counter litigation against us by our adversaries. A lawsuit against Zauner had to be filed in Marion County Circuit Court and heard immediately to be meaningful. We turned to Terry Wright, a Guild member and supervising attorney at the Willamette University Law School clinical program in Salem. A year earlier, Terry had joined the board of the Willamette Valley Law Project (PCUN’s sister organization) and she was knowledgeable about PCUN’s work and activities. She agreed to appear on our behalf but didn’t have time to single-handedly prepare a civil complaint, a legal memorandum and a motion for a preliminary injunction. For help, we turned to Ray Thomas, partner in Royce, Swanson & Thomas, the most prominent and active “Guild” law firm in Portland. All three of the firm’s principals had actively supported our Movement since its inception. By July 16th, four days after our meeting with Zauner, Ray and I had drafted a straightforward, three-page civil complaint, captioned “PCUN v. 94 Country, Inc (KWBY Radio)” and Terry had reviewed, signed, and filed it at the courthouse in Salem. Paragraph eight of the Complaint summed up our claim: “Unless enjoined, the defendant’s action will irreparably harm plaintiff’s reputation among its constituency and impede its goals as an organization, all to its great and irreparable injury and damage for which it be will impossible to compensate [the] plaintiff”. The clerk set July 25th as the date for a hearing on our motion for preliminary injunction. In press accounts about the dispute, Zauner raised a new contention: LHC had violated Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules by “failing to review the program with the engineer on duty” and violated the FCC’s “Fairness Doctrine” by personally attacking a person’s honesty, character or integrity. “They put my license in jeopardy,” Zauner asserted, conveniently ignoring PCUN’s offer of equal time. He also failed to notice that the FCC had junked the Fairness Doctrine requirement in 1987. Zauner’s violation of the contract seemed pretty clear, unless he could show that we had failed to follow FCC rules. Our trial memo, filed the day of the hearing, cited cases such as Philip Morris v. Pittsburgh Penguins (a federal case

about advertising contracts) and, ironically, a handful of agricultural commodity cases supporting our contention that monetary damages would be impossible to calculate or insufficient to compensate for injury to our reputation. Even so, when the hearing began, we were not confident that we would prevail. Zauner surprised us by arriving at the hearing without a lawyer, choosing to defend himself. As the hearing opened, he repeated his allegations—but offered no substantiation—that LHC had violated FCC rules. Presiding Judge Robert McConville, mindful that Zauner was representing himself, let him ramble: “I’m sympathetic to the plight of farmworkers,” Zauner insisted. “I was a farmworker…as a German, bigotry is no stranger to me.” After Zauner finished his “defense”, Terry summarized the key elements of our case. The judge prepared to deliver his ruling by observing that the “cutting edge of this case is FCC infractions.” He continued, “I find no evidence of any.” He granted the injunction and ordered Zauner to pay PCUN $186 in court costs. We ultimately had to garnish KWBY’s checking account to collect it and didn’t receive the money until nearly a year later. Zauner’s stonewalling wasn’t limited to reimbursing our court fees. He announced after the hearing that he would only allow a “licensed operator” to engineer the two installments of LHC which the judge had ordered KWBY to air. On July 29th, the date of our next-to-last program, Zauner himself appeared at the station about 6:45 PM. He ordered us to wait outside and took the controls himself. He read a seven-minute editorial (in English, of course) denouncing PCUN, blasting the judge for forcing him to relinquish control of his station, and devolving into a incoherent patriotic rant. He then played a decades-old recording of Kate Smith singing “God Bless America”. We listened to all this in the parking lot on a portable radio. We tried to visualize what Spanish-speaking listeners imagined was going on. We speculated that they would conclude that they had dialed into the wrong station. Zauner then flung open the door, ordered his engineer to leave, allowed us to enter and left us to our own devices. Zauner had never allowed us to engineer our own program, and he doubtless assumed that we wouldn’t know how. It could have been a clever tactic: technically comply with the injunction but, in practice, “prevent” any actual broadcast. Fortunately, Ramón had paid sufficient attention to Jesus’ techniques during those eighteen shows. Ramón managed to keep us on the air, a fact our portable radio and a few callers confirmed. In those sixty minutes of LHC, and the sixty minutes we broadcast the following Sunday, we told the story of our two week absence, of Dan Kraemer’s complaint against us, of Zauner’s alliances and interests, and, naturally, the story

of the PCUN v. 94 Country, Inc. We even explained Zauner’s July 29th diatribe and Kate Smith’s iconic anthem. On August 5th, we signed off KWBY prouder for the struggle we had waged. We urged our listening audience to tune in at LHC’s new frequency, day and time because… La Hora Campesina finds new life at KBOO As soon as Zauner showed us the door on July 12th, we knew that our days at KWBY were numbered. We contacted the KBOO programming director and explained the situation. Coincidentally, KBOO had an opening on Tuesday in the weekday, Spanish-language “strip”, 5:00 to 6:00 PM. That slot was certainly not as desirable as Sunday evening, but we thought it could work for the LHC team and for our audience. Cognizant of our plight, the KBOO programming committee expedited approval, and we aired our first installment of LHC on KBOO just two days after the final one at KWBY. We immediately launched a promotional campaign in the Woodburn community to spread the word about our change of radio venue. We assumed that on KBOO, we’d never hold a Woodburn-area audience equal to the one we had at KWBY and right we were. It took a determined effort to remember to change the dial every Tuesday at 5 PM and only motivated and disciplined listeners consistently did so. Listeners who tuned in early encountered news in English; soul music programming started after 6:00. We felt very grateful that KBOO took us in and we made extra efforts to mobilize our supporters, members and listeners to contribute to KBOO’s pledge drives. Over the next four years, we produced and aired nearly 200 editions of LHC on KBOO, and garnered a loyal following, but mostly in the Portland metro area. Our listenership in the Valley, south of Portland, remained limited, especially after stations in the Valley expanded broadcasting in Spanish to twentyfour hours a day. Despite these limitations, PCUN’s radio team worked diligently on La Hora Campesina. On November 11, 1990, the core team members, joined by several other PCUN leaders, sketched out our vision of radio life free from censorship and the fear of it. The meeting re-affirmed LHC’s mission: “educating-informing, raising consciousness, organizing”. The group identified short-comings in content, such as passively relying on information or topics that happened to be handy, and concentrating on people’s complaints at the expense of analyzing them and suggesting solutions. We set out guidelines for recruiting new team members, for technical training, and we developed a “docket” of stories to pursue proactively.

Though we recognized a need to expand the range of topics beyond labor issues, we articulated the following criteria that would keep us close to our “labor” home: (1) stories that affect a large number of people, directly or by example; (2) actions of resistance that redress or combat abuse; (3) incidents of abuse by growers or other employers; and (4) arrests or encounters with the INS. We utilized our own research from organizing campaigns to prepare more in-depth profiles of key growers. We recorded “round-table” discussions on bribery as endemic to daily life in Mexico. We summarized the history of Mexican migration to Oregon. We explored women’s leadership roles—and the barriers women face—in the farmworker community. We “broke” at least two significant news stories, both later reported in print media: indictment of an East-Multnomah County grower for issuing thousands of false work-verification letters to legalization applicants, despite having employed only a couple of hundred workers, and a hate-crime attack on a Latina by a deranged neighbor obsessed with the Gulf War (he thought she was an Arab). As one might expect, producing LHC became routine over the course of two hundred programs. Someone from Woodburn (usually Ramon or I) would take off for Portland with Javier at 4 PM, pick up Rodolfo at his factory job in Tualatin and, rush-hour traffic permitting, arrive at the KBOO studios on Portland’s near east side with five to eight minutes to spare. We’d boot up the “cart” (an eight-track tape style cartridge) for the opening theme song, set the cassette tape deck to record the entire show, cue up a couple of singles on the turntables, adjust the earphones and sound levels, and hit “play” on the “cart”-deck when the news reader gave us the sign. Any core team member could engineer and host the show solo. Two people made banter possible, allowed us to timely answer the dozen calls with song requests and “dedications” which we averaged each week. Though no more than four people ever occupied the “host” role, programs regularly featured a half dozen other voices, recorded in the LHC “studio” at PCUN headquarters. The KBOO period in LHC’s life sharpened our skills, replaced microphone-phobia with self-confidence. It gave us a sense of proportion, such as the ratio of production time to airtime. It brought us closer to living our radio dream, not just fantasize it. We proved that we could routinely produce entertaining and informative radio. The end of La Hora Campesina and the return to the commercial media jungle LHC’s enduring, and, we concluded, insurmountable obstacle was audience scope. We had a built a loyal following at KBOO, but not in the Willamette Valley, PCUN’s prime territory. In the parlance of real estate, the problem was “location”. LHC was a Spanish-language island in KBOO’s sea of programming

in English. No feasible amount of hype would attract and bond Valley listeners, except for a die-hard core. We arrived at this conclusion neither suddenly nor shortly before ending La Hora Campesina’s tenure on KBOO in June 1994. For a period in Spring 1992, we explored new, more conducive “waters” for LHC. KWIP, reaching five counties in the heart of the Valley, was the obvious choice. Since KWIP saw itself as the commercial “rival” to KWBY, we theorized that our experience at KWBY might not automatically disqualify us from securing a show on KWIP. What’s more, we had heard that KWIP might still be on the market, re-energizing our vision of owning our own station. Attempting to apply lessons learned in our KWBY experience, we requested a meeting with the KWIP’s general manager and the director of Spanish-language programming. At the meeting, we described our program format and proactively suggested steps for dealing with complaints or controversies. We presented an eleven-point outline for an agreement which we thought fair to the station and protective of our free expression prerogatives. Specifically, we proposed purchasing a two-hour segment, Saturday evenings from 6:00 to 8:00 PM for $250 a week. The general manager made no commitments but did seem interested and said he’d get back to us after consulting with the owner. As we left the meeting, he informed us that the station had recently been sold for $300,000. The memory of sticker shock came back in a rush. After a few weeks had passed with no response, we took the liberty of drafting an agreement which set forth our proposed points and incorporated terms which the general manager had mentioned during our meeting. We did our best to detail rights, responsibilities and remedies. We proposed specified a term of one year with cancellation allowed only if we violated the agreement. The draft struck us as balanced and workable. When KWIP simply never responded, that told us just about everything we needed to know about our prospects for leasing commercial broadcast time for our kind of programming. By 1994, the increasing demands of work on PCUN’s two principal and interrelated fronts raised new questions about the effort invested in La Hora Campesina. More than ever, we felt the need to focus all possible resources on organizing workers especially at Kraemer Farms and other farms associated with NORPAC Foods, and on promoting the national consumer boycott launched against NORPAC Foods in September 1992. By 1994, the Boycott had gained traction among Portland-area consumers, selected natural food stores around the country, and religious organizations. LHC, we reluctantly decided, simply didn’t contribute meaningfully to either campaign. Workers on NORPAC farms (and in

the Valley generally) weren’t tuning in and our Latino audience in the Portland area was not a demographic strategic to advancing the Boycott. We folded the LHC tent and “stored” it, with no idea about when or where we could expect to pitch it again. The demise of LHC did not, however, end our presence on Spanishlanguage radio altogether. If phase one (pre-1990) of our radio life consisted of “donated” time, if phase two (LHC on KWBY) was paid programming (a form of info-mercial?), and if phase three (KBOO) was the “info-noncommercial”, phase four took us to the most common of radio and media conventions: the paid commercial message. We simply began paying for thirty-second and one-minute “spots” just like car dealers, supermarkets, restaurants…businesses. Until then, we had acted as if our Movement operated in a sort of parallel universe where the “custom” of paying for ads simply didn’t apply to us. The Tenth Anniversary Organizing Campaign, designed and adopted in Fall 1994 and executed in Spring 1995, took our field organizing to an entirely new level. The Campaign’s straightforward goal—to win a substantial crop-wide wage increase in the 1995 strawberry harvest—required us to plan, recruit, fundraise, procure, deploy, organize, propagandize, agitate and mobilize like never before. Success without mass media messages that reached the farmworker community seemed far-fetched. The Campaign’s “by any (nonviolent) means necessary” orientation crumbled our remaining inhibitions about media “buys”. Once we made that mental and emotional breakthrough, the media logistics and strategies seemed uncomplicated. To distinguish ourselves from the “commercial” voice and style of other ads, we wrote our own content and recorded it in our own voices, sometimes with our audio equipment, sometimes in the commercial station’s studios. We approached KWBY and KWIP and both dealt with us as if we had no history. It was strictly business. They offered us the standard “volume” discounts, such as “buy eight spots, get four bonus spots”. We settled on certain scheduling arrangements that would become customary, e.g., four to six ads per day, concentrated in morning and evening drive time and at the lunch hour. Just before and during the strawberry harvest in June 1995, we produced and aired one-minute spots with a 20-second message in Spanish, followed by a translated into two indigneous languages, Mixteco and Triqui. To our knowledge, these were the first commercial spots (and possibly the first broadcasts) in those languages that ever aired in our area. Neither station seemed concerned about content they didn’t understand. The spots definitely had the intended effect, catching the ear of the indigenous workers who comprised the bulk of the harvest workforce.

Paid ads on KWBY and KWIP became a staple of our mass mobilization communications plan. We later expanded them to KXOR, “La X”, in Eugene and KGDD, “ La Gran D”, in Portland. In August 2000, we ventured into buying ads on Spanish-language cable television channels to promote a march and demonstration at the State Capitol in Salem supporting legal status for undocumented workers. The sight of a Movement leader on TV—with protest footage as background—exhorting viewers to turn out, commanded wide notice, partly for its novelty. On August 22nd, some 3,000 people showed up to march. At the time, it was the largest gathering of Latinos for any political event in Oregon history. In subsequent years, we also bought radio spots to disseminate key messages unrelated to a specific organizing campaign or event, such as increases in the state minimum wage rates. We had resigned ourselves to the reality that commercial stations’ free public service announcements meant, in practice, one or two a month. We no longer flinched at the irony that we were, in effect, paying for “PSAs”. It had become a cost of operations, even if a spendy one at times. Between PCUN and our sister organization, CAUSA (Oregon’s immigrants’ rights coalition), we shelled out as much as $10,000 in a year. Every now and then, an inner voice would ask: “what if we could devote these resources to a station of our own?”

Part III: A crack in the radio ice-shelf: low-power noncommercial radio In 2000, after years in which we were frozen out of radio ownership, a thaw suddenly began. In January 2000, over the strenuous objections of the commercial broadcaster associations, the FCC adopted an initiative offering “low-power” radio license opportunities to non-profit organizations. Organizations like PCUN could apply at no charge for a construction permit to establish such an FM radio station operating at up to one hundred watts of power. While we jumped at the chance to apply, we “curbed our enthusiasm”, preparing ourselves for what we presumed would be an all-too-likely disappointment. Over the five years that our application pended, including several “hurry up and wait” moments, the prospect of finally reaching our goal seemed illusory. It didn’t help that commercial broadcasters waged concerted campaigns to kill or at least constrict the low-power FM program. The FCC had barely begun implementation when Congress intervened at the mega-media interests’ behest, ultimately passing the Radio Broadcasting Preservation Act in late 2000. While community media advocates successfully defended the existence of the low-power FM (LPFM) program, the legislation effectively eliminated 75% of the promised stations, including most opportunities for LPFMs in urban markets. PCUN played little more than a cameo role in the campaign to preserve LPFM. In October, 2000, we participated in a news conference in Portland, organized by leaders of the United Church of Christ (UCC), a progressive force in community media politics nationally. As we and they saw it, if any one could serve as an archetypal candidate for LPFM, it was PCUN. Though media monopolists were emboldened by installation of the Bush Administration, the LPFM program escaped their strangling grasp. The license application process gradually unfolded across six geographic regions. For one region at a time, the FCC would announce an on-line application “window” open for only a few days. The window for the region including Oregon opened June 11, 2001 and closed June 15th. We applied on the first day. Once we found our bearings in a new world of jargon, we understood that a qualifying organization needed to show evidence of roots in the local community and proof of our non-profit status. We needed to affirm our capacity to construct and operate an LPFM and to submit an educational statement of purpose. Fortunately, we counted on the expertise and pro-bono services of several key advisers to help us find our way through the maze: veteran community and commercial radio engineer Michael Brown of Portland, Andrea Cano, Director of the United Church of Christ’s Microradio Implementation Project, and the

Prometheus Radio Project based in Philadelphia. We eventually became at least minimally conversant with terms like “minor” and “major” changes, and “third adjacent frequency”—only the tip of the radio lingo iceberg, we later came to realize. PCUN’s educational statement summarized our mission and didn’t mince words about our communication goals: “Provision and dissemination of accurate and useful information is a key part of achieving our mission because it equips farmworkers and their families to make sound judgments, participate in a timely and appropriate fashion and defend themselves against exploitative practices of those who rely on the use of misinformation.” PCUN’s plan signaled an emphasis on labor themes and specifically mentioned developing programming in indigenous languages (e.g., Copala, Mixteco, Zapoteco, Pur’epecha) spoken by large numbers of immigrants from Mexico in the listening area. Filing the application came at a time of unusually intense organizational activity for PCUN. Consider this combination:  The struggle for immigration reform—and “amnesty” as we called it then— had gained real momentum in 2000. Early in 2001, President Bush—and his “pre-9/11 self”—and newly-elected Mexican President Vicente Fox both grabbed onto the issue to define their respective shaky presidencies. In October, 2000, the UFW, PCUN, and the Farm Labor Organizing Committee had reached an historic agreement with the agribusiness lobby on a legislative proposal called “AgJOBS.” It would grant legal status to an estimated 1.5 million farmworkers and family members. AgJOBS came very close to enactment in the Clinton Administration’s final days. A legalization benefiting tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in Oregon could be close at hand, we believed.  Our nine-year long consumer boycott of NORPAC Foods had also found traction as students on dozens of campuses successfully pressured university administrations to pressure the four major campus food service companies to cut ties with NORPAC. Though we couldn’t know it in June 2001, NORPAC would abandon its stonewalling and come to the bargaining table with PCUN just seven months later. Those negotiations dramatically increased the prospects for achieving collective bargaining on a major scale in Oregon agriculture, thrusting our leadership into new and demanding roles.  After years of simmering tensions, workers at United Foods’ PictSweet Mushroom plant in Salem suddenly reached the point of basta ya! (enough already!) in March 2001. The spark setting off a full-scale worker rebellion against a staggering range of workplace abuses came when the company

abruptly and arrogantly fired two respected rank-and-file leaders. The crews of pickers they led immediately walked out, gathered at the plant’s front gate, and called PCUN organizers. In June 2001, the 119-store Fred Meyer food store chain joined the PCUN/UFW boycott against PictSweet. The UFW’s battle with United Foods over unionization at their Ventura, California PictSweet plant had gone on for eighteen years. We felt optimistic that the loss of 30% of PictSweet sales would bring United Foods to recognize the union and bargain a contract covering the 350 workers at the Salem plant. The possibility of establishing a radio station in the midst of these potentially momentous developments seemed like both a blessing and a curse. On the positive side, we had more to broadcast about—and more need to broadcast it— than ever. The topic of legalization would command a huge and faithful audience. There remained, however, a nagging question: could we sustainably take on another major initiative, especially one that would catalyze all the others, and thereby create even more work for our Movement? At the time, we predicted to key allies that a station of our own would double our mobilizing effectiveness within a few months of starting broadcast and would quadruple that capacity in two years. The FCC’s glacial processing pace put off the day of reckoning about the limits of our capacity. We would wait four years before the FCC took decisive action on our application. “authorized to construct the radio transmitting apparatus”: the countdown begins In late May, 2005, a letter dated May 17th arrived from the FCC. It included the phrase quoted above, embedded in two pages of radio engineering lingo. Perhaps sensing that many LPFM applicants might not fully grasp all the critical implications and conditions, the FCC kindly enclosed a four page narrative explanation. “THE EXPIRATION DATE IS FINAL!” screamed the headline on the first page. We had exactly eighteen months to build the station and start broadcasting the required minimum of twelve hours daily, including eight hours of locally-produced programming daily at least six days each week. There we found ourselves, at the entrance to radioland, its proverbial gate suddenly flung open. If we ventured forth, who else like us would we be “joining”? In Oregon, 93 organizations had applied for an LPFM frequency; the FCC issued forty construction permits. Of those, thirty-four were on the air as of November 2007; twenty-one have Christian-oriented programming. One applicant in Gold Beach on Oregon’s southern coast called itself “Totally Jesus Network”. The Islamic center near Ashland applied but apparently didn’t follow through. Perhaps the most interesting mix of applicants surfaced in Bend: seven organizations (greens, Women’s Civic Improvement League, Arts Central, Human

Dignity Coalition), ultimately collaborated to establish KPOV. Nationally, the website LPFMDatabase.com reported that the FCC had granted 1,304 low power permits of which 825 were now on the air in November 2007. PCUN and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in South Florida are the only labor unions operating LPFMs. Maybe because it seemed simplest and made a station seem more real, we chose to select our “call sign” (or call letters) as the first of the phalanx of challenges we would have to tackle. The FCC web-based data base does not list the unclaimed combinations available. Rather, it contains every call sign already taken, leaving the new licensee to conjure a three or four letter sequence starting with “K” (or “W” if east of the Mississippi River) and submit it to determine if it’s already assigned. Since call signs can serve as or can reinforce a “brand”, the process calls for some imagination and some patience with the trial and error mechanics. Luckily, “KPCN”, the combination closest to “PCUN”, came up as available. To distinguish it as an LPFM, the FCC required adding the letters “LP”. Before submitting “KPCN-LP” as our choice, we checked for other combinations that we regarded as contenders: KPCS or KPCZ (connoting “CAPACES”, the name we sometimes use for our network of nine Movement organizations), KMPO (we would pronounce it “campo”), even KBRN (cabrón, or “jerk”, an option tested only in jest). All were taken. I even read through the Spanish dictionary listings starting with “Ca” (the pronunciation of the letter “K” in Spanish), but found nothing suitable. On June 13th, the FCC officially approved our request and we had an identity: KPCN-LP. We are really moving on this, (aren’t we?) Late Spring 2005 found us enmeshed in a difficult state legislative session fighting off anti-immigrant and anti-farmworker bills. That’s as good an explanation as any for why we didn’t spring into action right after reading the FCC’s May 17th letter. And even though we thought we had studiously reviewed the “how-to” literature for starting an LPFM, our earliest “must do” lists were anemic to the point of pathetic. At least they did identify the highest priority matters: antenna location, studio location, fundraising, and radio’s potential for having an “escalator” effect on the rest of our work. The FCC’s green light was calling the question we had asked ourselves in 2001: should we move our portion of heaven and earth to acquire the capacity to broadcast? If we attracted a receptive audience and they responded to our

broadcast calls to action, would it unleash a tide which could swamp our organizational vessels, made creakier by the overexertion of becoming broadcastready? By 2005, the organizing “breakthroughs” that seemed imminent in 2001 had evaporated or stalled. PictSweet closed the plant rather than unionize. Negotiations with NORPAC morphed into a broader and indefinitely deadlocked fight on the terms for a state collective bargaining law in agriculture. Immigration reform proposals, including AgJOBS, faced stiffening political head winds. But the question remained: how confident did we feel that we could handle success like our own radio station? To paraphrase the Chinese proverb, had we been sufficiently careful about what we wished for? During the years waiting for FCC approval, I would pose these questions occasionally, especially when I heard those around me talk about “when”, and ignore “if”. Reactions varied from “oh, that” to concerned reflection, and a few quizzical looks (as if to say “is that really a serious question?). Was this a case of my (over)thinking ahead and worst-casescenario-ing, or was there real and substantial danger of organizational overreaching? Somewhat uncharacteristically, we didn’t take the question directly to the PCUN board. Instead, we embarked on a broader assessment of our Movement’s capacity and motivation, not just PCUN’s. The CAPACES mass gathering process—periodically bringing together a substantial portion of the nine sister organizations’ staffs to discuss a common challenge—offered the most fitting and efficient opportunity. Even as we lined up the CAPACES discussion, we proceeded to identify the obstacle most likely to prove insurmountable. It wasn’t money or studio building, but the transmitting antenna location. However much this approach appeared “prudent”, it also bespoke avoidance. We probed for something that could stop the project in its tracks and thereby render moot the larger strategic question. The antenna plan we had devised in 2001 contemplated anchoring steel pipe tower sections to the PCUN headquarters building’s south wall and extending the sections about about thirty feet above the roof line, as high as we could support them without installing guy wires. Our engineering friends estimated that this design would place the antenna sixty feet above ground. At that elevation, the radio signal might reach only a few miles. We had consulted with the City building department and either didn’t hear a “no” or didn’t exactly pin down the details. “Sounded doable”, or something to that effect, sufficed at the time.

By August 8, 2005, “doable” had retreated to somewhere on the outskirts of “no”. The City Planner informed us that only land zoned “industrial” could host communications towers. Our property, zoned commercial, could accommodate some way-too-short CB-radio style antenna. We knew we needed at least twenty feet of clearance above the roof line to avoid radiation issues and, without substantially more height, our coverage might not even include all of Woodburn’s five square miles. Our two choices boiled down to seeking a zoning variance, which the Planner advised against, or scouting another location. Undoubtedly, over the years, we had cast our gaze upward as we stood in our headquarters building parking lot and noticed the two City water towers five hundred feet to the west. In Woodburn, as in countless towns and small cities located on flat terrain, water towers are the tallest structures in sight. At some point, it must have occurred to us that installing our antenna on one of the towers would greatly enhance our broadcast territory. The fact that I can’t remember it suggests that the idea quickly landed in the mental folder labeled “fantasies”. Suddenly, however, we faced a pressing need to retrieve and re-categorize it. Encouragingly, both towers already hosted antennas. The closer tower— the older one—looked perfectly suited to our needs: cylindrical with a steel ladder and safety housing ideal for attaching a vertical mast like the one already there. It secured the Woodburn Police Department’s radio antenna. The other water tower thirty yards away exuded “progress”: a huge silvercolored globe-like tank with a sturdy equatorial cat-walk. The tank rested on seven legs each six feet in diameter. A 15-inch-wide steel ladder hugged one leg up to the cat-walk and continued up the tank’s skin to its north pole, 135 feet above ground level. Every eight yards along the cat-walk railing, a Sprint cell phone relay or Union Pacific Railroad antenna gave the tank a wide, semi-toothy smile. A small colony of out-buildings housing all manner of transformers and instruments had sprouted in the grassy area under the tank’s belly. About ten minutes into my September 8th meeting with Woodburn City Manager John Brown and City Engineer Randy Rohman, I learned that the old tower no longer stored water and awaited imminent demolition. So much for the “easy” option. We had a contentious relationship with the City Establishment during our Movement’s first two decades. Over the past ten years, our relationship had transformed completely. As I sat across from John at his City Hall office conference table on September 8th, I mentally re-played just how far we’d come. John enthusiastically embraced the notion of community radio in Woodburn. He described how community radio complemented his strategy of increased

engagement between City government and Woodburn’s majority Latino population. Previous city managers had treated the Latino community with hostility or indifference. After an hour of discussion John and I had roughed out the terms for a possible long-term PCUN-Centro-City lease agreement to place KPCN-LP’s antenna on the big tower. He directed Randy to work with us on the technical questions. A few days later, Randy reported that the incumbent antennas posed no interference issues and that the City shed at the tower’s base could easily accommodate our compact transmitter equipment. Of course, many details and important procedural steps remained, including nailing down exact compensation we’d pay, agreement drafting and legal review, City Council approval, and engineering approval for installation. Still, John’s receptivity, quick follow up, and his support for a long-term lease arrangement, plus the lack of obvious major technical impediments, boded well. We’d passed our second potential “do not proceed” juncture (the first being the FCC permit). Still, our own decision pended. On September 23, 2005, thirty staff from PCUN and our sister organizations assembled for a CAPACES mass gathering meeting to tackle head on LPFM’s place in our Movement. I opened the meeting with a five-minute overview of what we “knew” so far in the LPFM process: the construction permits, the deadline to begin broadcast, minimum hours of broadcast and local programming, estimated range of KPCN-LP’s signal coverage, and the limitations of noncommercial status. I intentionally kept my summary at the most cursory “just-the-facts, ma’am” level, hoping not to steer the group’s thinking or to telegraph my doubts. After my remarks setting the context, I put forward two questions: “can we and do we really want to pull this off? If so, what will we need?” Before delving into them, I offered to try to answer any clarifying questions about the information I had presented. “What can we say on the radio?” asked Latinos Unidos Siempre coordinator José Sandoval. “There are seven words banned by the FCC as indecent,” I responded, “and we can’t slander anyone.” He thought for a moment and replied: “On the list of what we’ll need, we better put ‘a good lawyer’”. That set the tone: “how”, not “if”. In two hours, the group brainstorm had identified all the major categories of work required plus thirty ideas for programming. The group resolved to schedule more frequent mass gatherings and devote them all to advancing radio planning. We formed four working groups: fundraising, program, audience promotion and equipmentfacilities.

The meeting also reflected a strong and shared sense of confidence that a substantial segment of the community found existing Spanish-language radio tiresome and would embrace programming in voices like theirs, honestly speaking to issues of real concern. Addressing the prospect that a robust audience could exponentially increase community demands on us, several participants pointed out that a more active community would invigorate our organizations to meet the challenges. For me, the September 23rd meeting extinguished my lingering doubts. The ánimo—the motivation—expressed dovetailed with the spirit evoked ten days earlier at the PCUN 20th anniversary celebrations in Portland and Eugene. A radio station of our own stood near the top of the “vision for the next twenty years” brainstorm list we shared there with supporters. It all reminded me that PCUN has always found a way to build critical capacity in “good” times and in difficult ones. As I re-oriented myself to adelante mode, another thought surfaced: “sometime next year, we might regret that this meeting happened in September and not in June”. Unquestionably, we had lost some valuable lead time. In November, 2005, the PCUN board weighed the risks and benefits of proceeding. We decided to move forward and we designated the radio station as our highest strategic priority for 2006.

Part IV: 2006: A year of building radio unconventionally Though we worked pretty steadily on the many planning fronts, we arrived at the half way point in our eighteen month countdown from “permit” to “transmit” with no firm funding commitments and with longer and more specific to-do lists. We had, however, advanced in two pivotal respects. We decided where to house the station and we accepted an offer from the Prometheus Radio Project to site their next community radio conference and “radio barnraising” at PCUN in August. The studio location decision boiled down to a process of elimination. The headquarters building’s ground floor was laid out all wrong and the second floor wasn’t accessible. The acoustics were problematic, and the prospect of displacing the Centro de Servicios and other offices compounded it all. The old volunteer house next door called for demolition, not renovation. We’d long envisioned a new building on that site. Nine months wasn’t near enough lead time to plan and conduct the capital campaign, in addition to radio start up fundraising, design the new structure, and build it. That left the “new” volunteer house behind the headquarters. We had acquired that house just two years earlier when its long-time, elderly occupant abruptly re-located to an assisted living facility. Though the house hardly seemed ideally suited to hosting a radio station—as circumstance would remind us countless times in the months that followed—the conversion appeared feasible and affordable. Prometheus Radio Project: light our fire The importance of the Prometheus offer—and of their role overall in the birth of KPCN-LP—simply cannot be overstated. Since its founding in 1998, Philadelphia-based Prometheus Radio Project (PRP) had become the leading national advocate the midwife and resource central for LPFMs. Prometheus’ very name—invoking the Greek god banished for giving fire to humankind—conjured their mission: putting tools for power in the people’s hands. Prometheus played a pivotal role in expanding community radio, an increasingly prominent front in the national and local struggle for more democratic media. By 2006, the radio barnraising had arguably become PRP’s signature activity. It combined popular education on media democracy with all manner of practical, hands-on training, plus collective work, producing a functioning station. Starting in 2002, PRP had organized two or three radio barnraisings annually. By the time they arrived in Woodburn, they’d constructed stations in Maryland, California, Louisiana, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Washington, Tennessee,

and Florida, plus Tanzania, Nepal, Colombia, and Venezuela. Though every gathering surely was unique, the basic elements included fundraising, weeks or months of logistics preparation, readying radio materials and audio equipment, and mobilizing and convening a couple of hundred volunteers at the barnraising site. Over one long weekend, PRP, the host organization and these volunteers organized and conducted workshops and assembled, installed, connected, and tested the antenna, transmitter, mics, mixers, and components, all to have a station broadcast-ready by Sunday evening. PRP founders and activists included former radio “pirates”, underground broadcasters who had constructed and operated micro-radio stations without FCC permission. The advent of LPFM gave them a compelling reason to surface. Prometheus co-founder Pete Tridish—“Petri” for short—not only had traveled this outlaw-to-“‘out’-for-all” route , his very identity embodied it. He had adopted “Pete Tridish” as his radio nom de guerre and simply stayed with it. The name played on “petri dish”, the glass vessel biologists use to grow exotic cultures starting with bacteria. Rumor had it that his “real” name was “Dylan Wrynn”. Petri had operated his underground radio station, “Radio Mutiny”, in the backroom of a ramshackle, four-story brick house, affectionately called “KnotSquat,” located on Philadelphia’s west side. Activists and social outcasts established a “squat” there around 1990, one of many abandoned house take-overs in the area. The squatters eventually gained title from the City by paying $2,100 in back taxes at a Sheriff’s auction. Radio Mutiny attracted an eclectic and vibrant line up of programmers, including one who occasionally broadcast in the nude, hoping to make more sensational the FCC raid everyone assumed would eventually shut down the station. Though the raid finally occurred two years into Radio Mutiny’s brief life, the Feds didn’t take her away naked in handcuffs because her show happened not to be airing at that moment. Petri’s long black beard and penchant for outlandish tactics intensified his image as a rebel. Amazingly, he could protest outside FCC offices in an “FCC cheerleader” uniform, complete with pleated skirt, and still command personal meetings with the Republican FCC Chairman, Kevin Martin, for serious—and even fruitful—negotiations on impending radio rulemaking affecting potentially dozens of stations and hundreds of frequencies. This rare combination served as a tribute to Petri’s energy, determination and creativity. Prometheus had achieved “player” status in the communication (de-)regulation wars while remaining defiantly grassroots and iconoclastic. Petri and other former underground broadcasters brought their ingenuity and counter-culture ethos to the unconventional, even preposterous endeavor of putting together an entire station over a weekend on a shoe-string budget. In

PRP’s approach, it takes a community to raise a radio station, and new media activists can and should start at the “top”, as owners. When Petri contacted us in late January to convey PRP’s offer, we had only the vaguest notion about the radio barnraising phenomenon. It sounded like a good fit with our hustle-and-build-it-yourself style. Our friends at the Coalition for Immokalee Workers, a farmworker organization in southern Florida, spoke highly of PRP and the barnraising they jointly organized in 2003 . Then there was the fact that no one else had offered to co-build KPCN-LP and that we had no blueprint, master plan, or expertise for doing it ourselves. At the January 31st CAPACES mass gathering, we surveyed opinion and then enthusiastically accepted. Settling on the radio barnraising dates—August 18th to 20th—boosted our confidence that we’d actually get to the LPFM promised land. A few weeks later, PRP sent us copies of their sixty-page manual methodically laying out every aspect of organizing a radio barnraising. They also began planning a PRP/PCUN promotional tour of a dozen Northern California, Western Oregon and Western Washington communities in late April and early May to connect with local community radio activists. Six months to raise a six-figure sum PRP pledged to—and did—raise the funding for the barnraising gathering, much of it ultimately through voluntary registration fees from attendees. As late as April, I had estimated needing $90,000 in total start up cash (through 12/31/06), including $25,000 for equipment and installation, $5,000 for remodeling the house and $38,000 for the equivalent of 1.5 full-time staff (three full-time staff positions with staggered start dates during calendar year 2006). I expected that construction, legal, engineering and organizational services worth tens of thousands of dollars would be donated. When the financial smoke had cleared at year’s end, equipment and staff had come in higher, but not hugely, thanks in no small measure to PRP’s expertise. The remodel costs, however, totaled nearly five times what I had initially guessed. I had based my estimate on a suspect combination of previous project costs and the notion that our remodel costing should be different than anyone else’s. The final tally for KPCN-LP start-up and 2006 operations: just under $117,000, 30% more than I originally projected. We knew that we couldn’t look to the PCUN membership and community base to supply that level of funding, especially in a matter of months. In the past, we had commonly sought start-up funding from sources outside the community: progressive foundations, small and major individual donors, and community

organizations. We correctly believed that these supporters would find compelling the prospect of achieving the radio “great leap forward” for under $100,000. We also benefited from three remarkable coincidences. First, the Four Freedoms national funding collaborative invited CAUSA to apply for $100,000 to build its capacity, part of the collaborative’s investments in selected “anchor” organizations in immigrant communities. CAUSA successfully made the case that allocating $25,000 for a radio station would not only strengthen CAUSA but also many of the community organizations that form the CAUSA coalition core. Second, the Funding Exchange, a key national progressive funder with fourteen local affiliates, issued a request for proposals for its new Media Justice Fund. In 2006, Funding Exchange selected PCUN as one of eleven groups funded nationally and awarded us $20,000, the Fund’s largest single grant. The third coincidence involved a visit to PCUN in January 2006 by the New Voices National Fellowship program. Funded by the Ford Foundation, New Voices selected about a dozen young leaders nationally each year to take up new programmatic coordinating positions in community organizations. The Fellowship paid the fellow’s full salary and fringe for one year, paid 75% for the next year. The Academy for Educational Development in Washington D.C. provided leadership development support, including organizing gatherings like the one that brought the New Voices staff and fellows to visit PCUN in January 2006. The presentations and dialogue that day left lasting impressions about our successes and challenges of movement building. The following month, PCUN applied for a 2006 New Voices Fellowship, nominating Hozkar Morales, community organizer with our sister organization, Voz Hispana Causa Chavista, as the Fellowship candidate and prospective KPCNLP programming director. Hozkar joined the 350 other candidates in the winnowing process, eventually becoming one of about twenty finalists. His selection in May, we believe, owed much to his own qualities as a young leader (just 21, one of the youngest New Voices fellows ever), but the visit and the radio project—itself a “new voice” in our community—surely resonated. By defraying Hozkar’s salary, the Fellowship provided nearly $20,000 in 2006 and another $50,000 for 2007 and 2008 toward the KPCN-LP budget. Before any of these three grants were awarded, though, PCUN had received the inaugural funding commitment for KPCN-LP from the Social Justice Fund Northwest, the region’s leading progressive foundation based in Seattle. In April, SJF approved a three-year, $15,000/year general support grant which we sought to fund the radio. This grant followed nearly twenty others which SJF had supplied, many—again, like this grant—instrumental in launching new PCUN initiatives, dating back to 1981.

By December 2006, we had raised $180,000 from eight foundations, plus another $36,000 from eleven individuals and fifteen organizations who each contributed at least $250. This remarkable and generous backing fully funded the start-up and put up $85,000 towards 2007 operations, sustaining KPCN-LP’s momentum. Meanwhile, millions pour into the streets Just as we were preparing to build the capacity to mobilize on a much bigger scale, a series of massive protests erupted nationwide. Like any wild fire, this fire required the right sequence and proportion of fuel, spark, oxygen and accelerant. A “political fire marshal” report on these blazes’ causes could have read as follows:  The fuel: increasingly shrill anti-immigrant rhetoric and slander generated an intensifying heat wave of immigrant and Latino community anger, parching the community’s patience and evaporated its fear;  The spark: The “Sensenbrenner” Bill (HR 4437) passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in mid-December 2005, proposing to criminalize virtually anyone who associated with an undocumented worker;  The oxygen: the Catholic Church’s forceful calls in immigrantdominated parishes across the country to take public action against HR 4437 as an affront to the community and to church doctrine;  The accelerant: Spanish-language radio DJs in key cities like Chicago and Los Angeles incessantly exhorting and commenting on mass action, augmented by national TV coverage (especially Spanish-language stations) of the first mega-marches in Chicago and Los Angeles. The “fire” zone included Oregon, and the role of radio in the Willamette Valley mirrored the national pattern. For a six-week period from late March to early May, 2006, mainstream commercial stations broadcasting in Spanish morphed their usual content (mostly shallow banter, pop music and commercials) into nonstop talk radio on immigration. Though this change was initially spontaneous, station owners surely decided to ride the popular wave, self-interest ever central to their calculations. In late March, Ramón, easily Oregon’s most visible Latino leader on immigration issues, became an almost daily fixture on the KWIP morning drive time or mid-morning show, hosted by Don Angel, the formerly irreverent cynic turned political crusader.

Immigrant communities responded as never before: 400,000 marching in Chicago (including sizeable contingents of Polish and Irish immigrants), 500,000 in Dallas and a million in Los Angeles (there, including thousands of Koreans). In Oregon, we “led”—more like guided—the two largest gatherings at the state Capitol in Salem by any group for any purpose in Oregon’s history: 18,000 on April 9th and 12,000 on May 1st. In sum, our Movement, the Latino community and the nation experienced an “immigrant spring”, a sudden thaw unleashing awe-inspiring energy. For that all-too-brief season, the community experienced mass media actually serving community interests, a crucial element in the atmosphere of exhilaration. On May 1st, thousands of immigrants in Oregon answered the national call, which PCUN supported, to boycott work that day. Plant nurseries, restaurants, and construction jobsites remained idle. Some influential mainstream organizations, such as the Catholic Church, publicly opposed the boycott, characterizing it as too confrontational. Workers would not be deterred. They found irresistible the opportunity to approximate the effects of a “day without immigrants.” The boycott’s success startled commercial radio stations. Abruptly overcome with self-consciousness about being seen as an instrument of radicals, commercial stations returned more or less to “normal” programming. Predictably, this “cold front” of backlash had damped down the flames. In turn, the mass enthusiasm waned when proposals for comprehensive immigration reform—including a legalization program for millions—stalled in Congress. The marches and the boycott had yielded a stunning victory: halting the Sensenbrenner Bill. Still, a “nothing accomplished” mindset took hold. That it had all happened too quickly added an undertone of unreality. Still, the real-life, real-time demonstration of “community-service” radio made a lasting impression and people wanted more.

Part V. Building like there’s no turning back “Immigrant spring” re-affirmed our belief that programming content and audience building would not be KPCN-LP’s biggest hurdles. In fact, the brief, radio-fanned excitement increased the pressure to make good on our historic opportunity because, if ever, this was the moment! As the barnraising drew closer, the “compression effect” focused us on the four truly essential challenges we faced: preparing the radio barnraising logistics, preparing the antenna installation, procuring all the audio equipment, and building the studios. We awoke on May 2nd to the realization that the barnraising was only 108 days away. Through March 2006, I had served as de facto radio start-up coordinator. In early April, we brought Adrian Valladares into that role full-time. Adrian is a native of Querétaro, Mexico who came to the U.S. early in his high school years, graduated from Woodburn High School and then from Western Oregon University with a B.A. in Theatre Arts. He came into the Movement in 2005 through Latino Unidos Siempre, PCUN’s sister organization developing Latino youth leadership in the Salem area. We soon discovered that Adrian was a competition-winning salsa dancer and sometime instructor. Once on board, Adrian took the lead with Prometheus on barnraising logistics and radio equipment procurement, and he represented PCUN in the promotional tour. I continued coordinating the antenna placement arrangements and the studio remodel. Adrian had taken an active role in the mass gathering discussions and dove into the start-up coordinator work. Countless times in the months ahead, he showed his fearlessness, drive, and love of adventure, all welling up from deep in his impulsive personality. Add to all that a lively, give-and-take sense of humor, willingness to do absolutely anything that circumstances required, and more than a dash of chutzpah. The bond he and I developed set quicker than Liquid Nails construction adhesive and just as strong. Securing our perch (part one) As time grew short, we had to work simultaneously on many must-do tasks. Resolving the issue of antenna location topped the list because without an antenna, everything else would be pointless. First, we had to answer a series of technical questions, such as the water tower tank’s “shadow” effect; as a large, dense mass, the tank could partially block the radio signal. Then we could follow up with the

City, obtain an insurance rider, and seek FCC approval of the “minor” change of location and height specifications. Finalizing the lease required some back and forth on our rights and the City’s prerogatives. What recourse should the City have if a KPCN-LP broadcast criticized the City government? On the one hand, we knew that reckless or unfounded accusations could air despite our best efforts to broadcast responsibly. On the other hand, we hardly intended to countenance censorship (including selfcensorship). In the end, the agreement gave the City the right to terminate upon four months advance notice and after attempting dispute resolution. The agreement’s initial five-year initial term automatically renewed for three additional five year period if neither party took action to cancel it. We agreed to pay $100 per month plus the City’s actual electric service costs for powering the transmitter, about another $30 per month. We also guaranteed the City a regular public information program should they choose to produce one and we agreed to provide urgent access to broadcast emergency information. By late June, all the pieces had moved into place. At the Woodburn City Council meeting on June 26th, City Manager John Brown presented a brief summary of the agreement. Mayor Kathy Figley praised the arrangement and the project, characterizing it as a great opportunity for the City. A couple of the six City Councilors nodded as she spoke. A few moments before she instructed the clerk to call the roll, one councilor visibly drew a breath, furrowed his brow, and leaned forward to say something. I’d seen that look on his face before and I started mentally composing the rebuttal I might have to deliver to counter a one or more of the following: tired, lame, crotchety, whining, resentful, arrogant, or chauvinistic snipes at immigrants and the “special treatment” they supposedly receive. Thankfully, he stopped himself and said nothing. The clerk proceeded, and the motion to approve the agreement passed unanimously. We scratched that item—a big one—off the list and mentally reassured ourselves: still “on schedule.” The “PCUN School” of Remodeling We approached creating a studio as one more thing we’d never done, as one more project for which we had ridiculously limited resources, at least by conventional standards and one more instance of precariously short lead time. We knew we would need to marshal imagination, scrounge good technical resources and research, and mobilize both a modest core and a broader periphery of volunteers. Why, we told ourselves, should this project proceed any differently than the half dozen major (and countless minor) remodels we’d carried out over nearly two decades? As a grassroots organizations based in a low-income

community, our habit of relying on donated labor, often in work parties or brigadas, seemed as unremarkable as the many resulting accomplishments seemed extraordinary. This time, however, we had set a whole new level of challenge for ourselves. My notion of brigadas was shaped by my participation a quarter-century earlier with the Venceremos Brigade in Cuba, ironically helping to build a radio communications school. In 1973, I had worked construction briefly in Boston and, over the years and I had occasionally helped friends with construction or remodel projects. My skill and self-confidence, however, remained decidedly soso. In 1988, I assumed the role of PCUN “general contractor” planning, obtaining materials, comparing prices and monitoring costs, lining up help, directing traffic, problem solving and all purpose decision-making on facilities upgrade. That year, PCUN had moved into our current headquarters, a former church building, and embarked on restoring the meeting-hall. Supporters in the Portland area answered our call, bringing dozens of volunteers including experienced and highly skilled construction professionals. Over the years, a few of them became “regulars’ helping with other projects—including the radio remodel. My role as general contractor grew when we pushed to wrap up work on the hall in early 1994, part of the run up to its dedication in April of that year. I doubled as a project laborer weekends and some evenings. Reprising these roles in the radio remodel seemed routine to me and it was—in every sense except the pace, scope and complexity. Though we decided in January to situate the studios in the former volunteer house, we had first to finish converting the house’s back storeroom into a workshop or taller dubbed “Taller Lázaro Cárdenas”. General Cárdenas’ redistributed land to millions of peasants and nationalizated the oilfields in Mexico during his populist presidency in the 1930s. He remains a national hero, especially in his home state of Michoacan. One might suppose that some of the hundreds of PCUN members from Michoacan instigated this honor by, say, proposing a resolution at PCUN’s annual convention (the process employed to name the PCUN hall). In fact, Taller Lázaro Cárdenas—the project and the name—was the brainchild of Billy Hobbs, a tall, lanky, sixty-something gringo carpenter from the nearby town of Molalla. One day, about halfway through the workshop project, Billy hand-lettered a small board, nailed it above the unfinished doorway and declared the taller named. The rest of us simply accepted it without question or much comment—a testament

to the esteem and deference Billy had earned among us. Over thirteen years, he had contributed thousands of hours of skilled labor on every major PCUN remodel. He also organized his friends and carpentry “customers” to volunteer, extracted advice and donated materials from supply stores, and regularly joined PCUN marches and picket lines. Billy derived his intensity—at least the part that fed his fierce and tireless commitment to La Causa—from a spirit of militant Chavismo. He had deeply imbibed it more than thirty years ago in UFW boycott committees, picket lines in the San Joaquin Valley, and a night in the Kern County Jail where he and hundreds of others landed for violating anti-picketing injunctions. Billy connected with PCUN in 1993 at the memorial for César Chávez we organized at our headquarters days after César’s death. In 1995, PCUN honored Billy with the Martina Curl award. He’s the only person ever named a PCUN honorary member. Possibly the most unusual features of Billy’s activism are his written manifestos about the working class struggle and his vision of farmworkers in that struggle’s vanguard. He, his partner Diana, and son Aaron put together occasional issues of a mailer (resembling a “zine”) containing a menagerie of poetry, essays, stories, and line drawings. Billy authored one memorable example which not only appeared in the mailer but is scrawled in carpenter’s pencil on a one-foot by fourfoot piece of plywood mounted on the outer wall of Taller Lázaro Cárdenas, visible to all who come to the radio house back door. Verbatim, it reads: “Why we are not here:  To commit charity, not charitable, we  To maintain the status quo ante  To be ever at the gates of organized labor but never actually allowed through  To be stepped across, stepped upon, and used to accomplish the agendas of others  To be without credit, without funds, without so much as the jawbone of an ass to lever ourselves upward  To be untooled, unskilled  To be raw material for the landed interests  To be quiet, to stand still  To be caught continually in the web of our private miseries  For all these reasons, we are not here” At some point during the chaos of the radio barnraising, wood stain splatter somehow landed on much of this lettering, tarnishing any notion that the text occupied a hallowed spot. Ever irreverent, Billy found that fitting.

A remodel too implausible even for “This Old House” Even the producers of that venerable public television show would have to see it to believe it. “Picture this,” we could imagine telling them. “Shoe-horn two contiguous studios into the living/dining room area of a 93-year-old, 1,200-square foot former farmhouse. Construct them with extra sound proofing, including a separate ventilation system. Install new exterior doors, an accessible bathroom and 48-foot-long wheelchair ramp and deck.” That only begins to describe what we had set ourselves to do. The complexity of the remodel derived from what often proved to be mutually-complicating imperatives. We had to comply with the City building code for commercial structures, including accessibility (a goal we embraced). We also had to have the best possible sound-proofing within the studio spaces. Like any project requiring a building permit, we had to produce and submit detailed drawings. Once we told Billy that the radio station would have to occupy the volunteer house, he studied the City’s accessibility code. He immersed himself in research on acoustics, soliciting suggestions and materials from Andy Gunn, Prometheus’ sound maestro, from his network of assorted vendors in Portland, and from an acoustic products company he found called Auralex. He and Aaron produced a precise, presentable—even elegant—schematic illustrating the floor plan, wall cross-section and site plan. We filed them, paid our permit fee and waited for official review, leery about what type of treatment we’d get. Would it be nitpicking? “gotcha”? run around (“yes, but…”)? Given those trepidations, the City building inspector, Steve Krieg, pleasantly surprised us by responding promptly and cooperatively. We met him at the site a few days later and detailed applicable requirements or standards. Without prescribing, he made suggestions for possible plan modifications. We reworked and re-submitted the plan. On June 30th, we had our permit just in time for our July 4th weekend volunteer brigade. Over the next twenty weeks, Steve would come by almost weekly for inspections required at various stages and we would call him regularly with questions. Though never short-changing his role ensuring compliance, he seemed to root for the project’s completion in part because the whole idea intrigued him. He also came to recognize the quality of work and the conscientiousness we demonstrated, something he clearly valued more than the conventionality and credentials we lacked. One day, he observed: “I’d be out of a job if every project I inspect achieved the quality of this one.”

We built two studio rooms inside the existing living/dining room completely free-standing and unattached to the walls, floor and ceiling. The studios—one for broadcast and the other for production—formed an “L” with a shared window containing two panes of half-inch thick glass. The studio floor joists rested on some 250 heavy rubber bracket “coasters”. Rigid foam sheets filled the cavities between the studio walls and the room’s original walls. Studio walls and ceilings had double layers of insulation and drywall, also for sound reduction. We had to frame and drywall a dozen four-foot wide wall sections in the back yard, carry them in and nail them into place. All of that material added thousands of pounds of load. Though the house stood on a solid stem wall retrofitted under its perimeter in the mid 1980s, Steve calculated that we had to install reinforcing footings and blocks under the house’s central support beams. Adrian and PCUN field organizer Leodegario Vallejo spent hours under the house digging a 25-foot long trench six inches deep and twelve inches wide. We cut neat square holes in the pine flooring above the trench line, wheeled in batches of concrete mixed in the front yard, poured the concrete through a chute Aaron specially constructed. Under the floor, Adrian and Hozkar pushed the concrete into form. Predictably, having only exactly seven weeks to frame, insulate, wire, ventilate, drywall, mud, tape, sand and primer the studios meant that we sweated a few “just in time” episodes (formerly known as “crises”). Some can only be described as self-inflicted, such as the electrical work. It seemed that the relief of getting the building permit caused me to temporarily lose my planning nerve, allowing me to persuade myself that, since the building belonged to us, we could install the wiring ourselves. As we approached that stage of work, I filed for the permit. The county electrical inspector, who arrived the following day, left a yellow carbonless form tacked to the framing. Its hand-lettered text read “electrical contractor license required to perform work” followed by an Oregon Administrative Rule cite. Shaking off a paralyzing sense of dread, I called a half dozen people I knew connected in some way to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 48 in Portland. We had at most about two days of drywall work that could proceed before reaching the point of closing up walls through which wiring had to run. Billy dispatched an emergency appeal to his network. Fortyeight hours later, his network came through. John Bates, an IBEW member, called my cell phone. I knew nothing about John, but, as we would soon see in his work, he got right to it. After confirming what we needed, he reported that he’d already convinced his employer, a small

contracting outfit, to take responsibility for the job without charge, including submitting the required paperwork. Twenty-four hours later, on a Thursday just eight days before the barnraising, John arrived at 5 PM from his day job and worked until past midnight, wiring the studios. As dry walling resumed the next morning, I couldn’t entirely escape an “oil-lasting-eight-days” feeling—my own private Hanukkah—which brought me close, though not all the way, to start believing in miracles. During those seven weeks, we pulled in friends, family, supporters, community members, at first on weekends and then increasingly on weekdays too, as work on barnraising logistics and antenna placement also ratcheted up. There was Aaron Hobbs, who, like his father Billy, had long ago become a dependable and skilled brigadista. Reed Wallsmith, a talented musician and accomplished, well-equipped carpenter, regularly brought his crew of four or five friends, also experienced in construction. A string of others stepped in, each for a couple of days, including Eli Jiménez, his friend Karen Steiner, his son Gary and grandson, Javier; Domingo Robles and his construction worker son-in-law; Jay Harris, home remodeler recidivist; Tom Maravilla, a local fifth-grade teacher and former cement worker; and Fernando Chávez (with his pint-size electric drywall saw), easily the fastest and most skilled drywaller I’ve ever seen. The push to “finish” the studios coincided with the arrival of the Promethean advance-team and other vanguard barnraisers. In the last three prebarnraising days, work dragged into the wee hours. I had estimated that we’d primer the studios late Thursday. Ultimately, the drywall primer dried on Saturday afternoon, barnraising Day Two, just as the crew building the countertops in the back yard brought them in for installation. It seemed to all become one major—but certainly not the last—case of “just in time”. . In the world outside the radio house… A UPS truck pulled up to PCUN headquarters pretty much daily, delivering dozens of boxes, large and small, containing hundreds of parts for assembly into a radio broadcast system. For the most part, Promethean staffer Andy Gunn had come to serve as our Chief Procurement Officer, getting bids, unfailingly checking in with us for approval on big ticket items or related decisions (such as “mono” versus “stereo”) and making credit-limit stretching purchases on our credit card. The blizzard of boxes eventually gathered into a drift occupying a quarter of the 1,500 square-foot Risberg Hall and contained everything from climbing ropes and hard hats to wireless antenna grids and “On Air” and “Recording” light boxes. The box pile had not yet materialized in the PCUN hall when we held a special membership assembly on July 16th to establish KPCN-LP programming

principles and decision-making processes. A committee developing proposed programming guidelines had worked steadily during and after the mass gatherings in the fall and spring. At the assembly, the committee presented their proposal to fifty PCUN members and leaders. It included one of the shortest mission statements ever: “Educate, Entertain, Raise Consciousness”. We discussed and approved guidelines for selecting programming, a process for appealing removal or denial of a program, and duties and qualifications for members of a programming committee. The assembly closed with nominations for that committee (submitted to the PCUN board for appointment decisions) and an entertaining series of one-minute “pitches” of program ideas. For twenty minutes, we became a sort of test audience for shows named “Cocinando Con Gordo” (Cooking with Gordo), “Un Todo en Tres Puntos” (All In Three Points), and “Nacer Mujer en Cualquier Parte” (Women Born Everywhere). Hozkar led the committee as the inaugural Director of Programming. His New Voices Fellowship began in early June and with it, his role as KPCN-LP fulltime staff. He had gravitated to programming at the very first mass gathering ten months earlier and he played a facilitating role in fashioning the programming process proposal. Hozkar already had several leadership roles to his credit. A formative one grew out of his experience at Woodburn High School where he had enrolled after arriving from Oaxaca at the age of fifteen. He encountered the isolation and disconnection experienced by countless newly-arrived immigrant students and responded by founding a mutual support organization. Though heavily Latino, it initially incorporated Russian students as well. Early in his senior year, Hozkar joined the Oregon contingent of the Immigrant Worker Freedom Ride, a two-week odyssey traversing the country. En route, Hozkar delivered an impromptu address to hundreds of supporters on the Utah Capitol steps in Salt Lake City. His poise and thoughtful message impressed observers and Freedom Riders alike. After graduating in 2004, Hozkar worked temporarily for Voz Hispana Causa Chavista organizing Latinos to vote in the fall election. He stayed on with VHCC organizing community participation in the Woodburn School District’s process to split the high school into four “small schools.” Seeking the New Voices Fellowship gave Hozkar pause at first. He overcame his doubts, propelled by the prospect of fulfilling a childhood dream of working in radio. “Why aren’t you in college?” former teachers would ask when they crossed paths. “The Movement is my university without walls,” he would invariably reply.

Even to the casual observer, Hozkar brought a contagious energy to his roles in radio, especially on-air. Add to that his keen appreciation of pop music and cultural trends, his quick thinking and politically awareness, and it’s no wonder that another FM Spanish-language station quickly tried to lure him away. Securing our perch (part two) Essential though it was, reaching agreement with the City on antenna placement seemed, as the late PCUN President, Cipriano Ferrel, often said, like “getting the talking done”—i.e., the easy part. Actually hoisting and installing the antenna up there, would, by contrast, require real work. Thanks to advice from Andy, Petri, and several collaborators on the Prometheus tech listserv network, we resolved to place the antenna at or near the water tank’s north pole. While the antenna itself looks quite unimpressive— tubular steel one inch by two feet in a bubble-blowing wand shape, positioning it with sufficient clearance above the tank surface called for attaching it to a 14-foot mast, complete with lightening rod. And since winter storms can generate 100mile-per-hour winds, securing the mast upright required sturdy metal bracing firmly bolted to the ladder railings and placed as close as possible to the top of the tank. Petri strongly and correctly advised that we begin designing and fabricating the antenna armature well in advance of the barnraising, starting with a close up examination of the upper ladder, cat-walk and the cable path. This, of course, meant getting access, available only after we obtained and submitted an insurance rider to the City. Our insurance company finally came through on August 4th. We had just two weeks to go before the barnraising. For months, Adrian had steadily been eyeing the water tower challenge. Once the City gave us the key to the ladder guard lock, he was itching to climb. Though he played it cool in his full body harness with safety hooks, he must have wracked at least a few nerves on the first climb straight up the narrow, onehundred foot steel ladder which had no protective cage. I watched from the ground below and it made me nervous. In the days that followed, Adrian would make a half dozen more ascents, underscoring the extremes he would endure or relish—from digging, prone, under the radio house to standing atop the Woodburn world—all to put KPCN-LP on the air. Nine days before the barnraising, it suddenly dawned on me who could help us with the metal and welding work: Lázaro Ybarra. I couldn’t believe he hadn’t occurred to me, but it wasn’t a moment too soon. I swung by his parents’ house a half mile away where he’d lived on and off for as long as I’d known him.

Luckily, I found him there and explained the project. We stood on the sidewalk and both looked up at the water tower. “I’m in,” he said, after a moment’s contemplation. “Let’s go to my friend, Joel’s place, and get my welding kit,” he continued, the mental wheels already in motion. Lázaro didn’t have a functioning car and he stored his more valuable tools away from his crime-prone neighborhood. “Vamos,” I replied, feeling better every minute. When Lázaro said he was “in”, neither he nor I envisioned that he’d end up working almost daily with us for the subsequent fifteen weeks and that he’d carry out with consummate craftsmanship projects like air duct installation, building a phone switcher cabinet out of scrap pieces, and sketching a mural on the studio hallway walls. And I had already considered him the most talented artist I’d ever known! I met Lázaro in the early 1980s while he was still in high school. I thought of him mostly as an accomplished sculptor. I didn’t really begin to fully appreciate his immense skill and creativity until 1998 when I got him involved in our work to honor César Chávez in the Woodburn schools. After an intense campaign, we’d persuaded the Woodburn Board of Education to name the library in the new middle school for César. (They withstood our pressure to name the school for him and we reached a compromise.) I recruited Lázaro to create a bronze bust of César to place on display in the library. Though Lázaro had never met César and worked only from photos, he produced a likeness so lifelike and dynamic that César’s daughter, Liz Chávez Villarino, had to sit down— overwhelmed with emotion—when she first saw the bust at the unveiling and library dedication in March, 1999. Despite this incredible contribution to the community, Lázaro’s talent remained shamefully unappreciated. After the unveiling, I called John Baker, then the editor (and former sports writer) of the Woodburn Independent, the town weekly newspaper, to urge him to write a feature on Lázaro. I stated my purpose and after a brief pause, something clicked for John. “Lázaro, the wrestler?” he exclaimed. “He went to State finals in the 80s…Sure, I remember him.” Those, it turned out, were his last words on the subject, verbal or printed. Apparently, it didn’t even merit a “whatever happened to that champion wrestler” story. Lázaro mostly stuck close to Woodburn but his world view didn’t. An avid student of history, he’d become a devoted listener to progressive talk-radio on the Portland station carrying Air America. “Did you hear that story about the Bush Administration’s plan to invade Iran?” Lázaro would exclaim, as he rolled up to the radio house on his bicycle.

Lázaro’s lack of transportation afforded me a tour of his world. We perused the metal yards on the outskirts of neighboring towns, and farm implement dealers who sold nuts and bolts by the pound. He set up shop on makeshift work tables in the radio house back yard or welded on the nearby blacktop pavement so as not to start a grass fire. From pencil sketch to life-size mock-up made of wood paneling to finished steel components, Lázaro maintained his steady and unhurried artisan pace. On August 17th, we hoisted Lázaro’s improvised mast brace piece by piece and bolted it into place atop the water tank. As the crew raised the mast into place, the red United Farm Workers flag which Lázaro had duct taped to it began to flap (resembling that famous photo of Iwo Jima). Irate calls to City Hall, denouncing the flying of a huelga flag on a public structure, spurred City officials to ask us to remove it. Mindful of the “bigger picture”, we did so the next day. When the Woodburn Independent reporter called to ask why we had placed the flag there, I told him that it seemed like a good way to test which way the wind was blowing.

Part VI: Putting it all together A radio station rises: Barnraising, Day One For the span of a few days, PCUN’s compound, occupying three-quarters of a square-block, was transformed more dramatically than ever before in our twenty-six years at that location. By August 16th, two days before the extravaganza officially opened, virtually the entire Prometheus staff and volunteer core group had arrived, established a conference command center in the PCUN archives room, and set up computer work stations, wireless routers, and a de facto supply depot in the hall. The Prometheans took up residence—better said, “squatted”—next door at the deteriorating old volunteer house (for starters, no water supply) which long ago had shabbily served as the original PCUN offices. The PCUN headquarters kitchen revved toward high gear feeding dozens—soon to be hundreds. Amid the remodel traffic, the radio house became radio equipment-central. Over at the water tower, volunteers began digging a cable trench, forty-tive feet long, two feet wide and eighteen inches deep, from the transmitter shed to the base of the nearest tower leg. A “tent city” began to sprout in the compound’s vacant lot just beyond the old house; it quickly would carpet the entire expanse. Large event tents, covering a stage, tables and chairs, dominated the back parking lot adjacent to the radio house. Huge blue tarps flapped above the paved area behind the old house. Being from Philadelphia, and consumed by memories of a soggy barnraising near Nashville, the Prometheans couldn’t really accept our assurances that it absolutely wouldn’t rain in the Willamette Valley during mid-August. The tent and tarps came in handy when temperatures crept above ninety by late afternoon. Rounding out the set up, information booths and the registration area had been arrayed on the headquarters front lawn. The average passer-by, pausing to take in the scene, probably concluded that the carnival had come to PCUN. Promethean Hannah Sassaman served as co-general coordinator with Adrian and brought a breath-taking combination of verve, precision, dispatch, and empathy to the complexities and sometimes frantic pace of directing “set-up” traffic. She personified the whirlwind swirling around her and somehow kept it from devolving into chaos or causing injurious collisions. Beyond the set up, the influx of participants and their “old home week” encounters, and the accelerating construction and equipment work, Day One included a well-attended kick-off press conference. Standing in front of Risberg Hall’s stunning 400-square-foot mural, Ramón recounted some of PCUN’s long

journey to radio station ownership. He concluded: “This weekend a dream is coming true; soon our voices will be heard any time and all the time in this community.” Petri added a more national perspective: “We bring people together not only to build a station but also a movement to change how the media in this country is governed and controlled.” The community-radio community expands: Barnraising, Days Two and Three That Saturday, the barnraising reached full speed and full scale. It became a genuine “happening”, a conglomeration of the weird, wild, and wonderful. My pre-occupation with overseeing the remodel limited and obscured my field of view. When I stopped to survey the action, it struck me that the compound resembled an aquarium with schools of fish gliding by each other, some occasionally darting by, headed for the corral reef of the tents. And no sharks in sight. Here are a few less psychedelic images from that day:  From my operations base in the Taller dispatching volunteers and hunting down tools and materials, I obliquely observed the endless stream of visitors headed for the studios, climbing the makeshift steps to the opening where the back door no longer stood. The volunteers, sawing the siding to widen the doorway for its new door, dutifully stopped every few minutes to let them pass. It’s amazing no one got hurt.  Inside the studios’ cramped quarters, other crews installed countertops, mixing boards, mic booms, stereo components, computers, and ran a dizzying array of cables. Some cables snaked up to roofline where another crew struggled to anchor the wireless antenna that would send the radio signal to an identical apparatus which another crew was mounting above the transmitter shed next to the water tower…  …where a climbing team painstakingly hoisted a huge spool to the top of the water tank and rolled off cable gingerly, hoping to prevent kinking. Nina, an experienced climber from anti-logging tree sit protests, led a team rappelling down the tower leg to fasten the long metal bands securing the cable on its way to the trench. A spotter on the ground warned all who approached to don hard hats and stand clear, lest a dropped tool kill or maim. Nearby, Adrian delightedly ran the jackhammer breaking pavement for the trench. His name tag, which read “Ask me… ANYTHING”, probably should have read “Doing… EVERYTHING”, unable, as he was, to limit himself to coordinating.  The barnraising’s workshops track had taken over the Chemeketa Community College Woodburn campus located two blocks from PCUN

headquarters. Some twenty-nine sessions addressed a full range of technical, political, programming, and managerial topics, with titles like There Oughta Be A Law or Airshifting or Low Power Radio On The Brink.  Local community members roamed the compound with loaned minirecorders, practicing interviewing and other skills freshly acquired in the News Production and Field Recording workshop. Sprint to the broadcast finish line As that Sunday afternoon wore on, no one could confidently say that we’d reach our goal of airing the first KPCN-LP broadcast at 6:00 PM. At the transmitter shed, master engineers like Mike Johnson and Gray Ferguson Haertig huddled around the glow of testing meters, checking and connecting components. Everyone not directly involved in these tasks gathered in and around the main tent awaiting the big moment. At just before 6:30, thirty minutes behind schedule, twenty PCUNistas crowded the stage behind a pair of microphones. Adrian got the nod from the tech crew and yelled “Veinte”. Thus began the countdown in Spanish from “20”. By the time we got to diez, practically everyone knew enough Spanish to join the yelling. The very first thing that anyone listening to 96.3 FM heard when we all reached uno was the roaring cheer of a few hundred people followed by chants of ¡Si Se Puede! and ¡Ya Se Pudo! (We Can Do It! and We Did It!). The sound quality was greatly distorted, no doubt. Ramón took the mic and announced the arrival of KPCN-LP to the airwaves. One immediate glitch momentarily disoriented Ramón and the crowd: the six-second delay. The public address speakers on stage amplified Ramón words in real time, but the radio broadcast, amplified on a separate input, echoed the same words a few moments later. We were already re-living history. Ramón spoke briefly and handed the mic to Sheryl Dash, President of the Salem NAACP chapter, who offered an invocation. Anxious to personally test KPCN-LP’s range, Ramón spontaneously jumped in his truck, tuned the radio to 96.3 FM and drove in and out of Woodburn in various directions. He returned thirty minutes later with KPCN-LP’s very own of “can you hear me now?” report. Who was listening that day at that hour? Our best guess was very few people—for three reasons. First, we had devoted every hour and resource to getting broadcast ready and therefore had time to conduct only a superficial mobilization campaign in the community. Second, we realized earlier in the summer that we wouldn’t have solid, community-driven programming ready to launch on August 20th, and we didn’t want our programming to leave a mediocre

first impression. And third, we noticed in the community—and in ourselves—a persistent sense of unreality. Simply put, hearing would be believing. These factors, however, did not begin to dampen the unbridled excitement—intensified by the sheer improbability—of succeeding. Moments after leaving the stage, I declared that “an ocean of waves are now washing over this community and the political weather here will never be the same.” The barnraising’s aftermath and legacy The next morning, the glow had predictably faded. All around the PCUN compound—inside and out—it looked like a hurricane had disorganized all but the most sheltered spots. Fulfilling their promise, the Prometheans threw themselves into clean up with the same fervor they brought to set up and radio building. Together, we all whipped the place back into shape in about forty-eight hours. The barnraising forged enduring connections way beyond the KPCN-LP broadcast territory. Most all who participated formed a bond of identification— akin to thinking “I’m from that village”. People in community radio—from Bellevue, Washington to Davis, California; from Immokalee, Florida, to Venezuela, became our radio-homies. We assembled a community—temporary only in the physical sense—to re-settle a radio territory long promised but seldom accorded the public. Today, not long into KPCN-LP’s life, we have called upon many of our new homies to support, strengthen and defend our radio village and we will doubtless need to call on more in the future. In this sense, Petri had it right when he declared that a radio barnraising is “not the easiest way to build a radio station, but it is the best way.” We’re not done yet: sprinting to the actual finish line Even in the days of clean up and recovery, we remained mindful that we had not yet reached our goal: full-time, FCC-licensed broadcasting. Three major challenges remained: certificate of occupancy, programming, and audience promotion. When the barnraising ended, we had exactly 88 days—until November 17th—to meet those challenges or else… Still, we’d survived thus far, and that, alone, left us feeling stronger. As Billy put it: “it’s forced us to reach farther than we thought we could, and we now feel the power in our grasp.” The remodel wind-up list remained daunting: the wheel-chair ramp, the accessible bathroom, new front and back doors, the separate ventilation system, finish painting and carpet. Sequencing appropriately under a tight time line kept the pressure high and the weekend and evening work constant.

Late in October, we accepted an offer from Radio Bilingüe, a national, noncommercial Spanish-language network based in Fresno, California, to become an affiliate station. We agreed (and are glad) to air their two most popular daily programs—live call-in and news—and they provided satellite downlink, dish and installation at no charge. The installation became a project in itself, requiring a separate permit, a ton of gravel and eighty cinderblocks, and three of us to wrestle the six-foot-diameter white plastic dish into place in the radio-house back yard. Gray and Mike paid a return visit, bringing their signal-finder expertise and equipment, to successfully position the dish. Finally, on November 14th, Steve, the City Building Inspector, issued our temporary certificate of occupancy. Cosmetic work continued right up until our public inaugural and celebration on Monday, November 20th. And even then, we weren’t entirely “done.” The tinkering, re-tooling, detailing, and re-painting, continued and extend out into the facilities-management horizon. One repair we’ll likely never make is nailing into place a piece of quarter-round molding hanging loose in the space between the two thick, sealed panes of the window the studios share. The molding, in the direct line of sight of anyone sitting at the broadcast controls, serves as a daily reminder of the limits of volunteer labor striving to meet near-impossible deadlines. My personal favorite work-in-progress is Lázaro’s mural on the studio hallway walls, depicting barnraisers picking radio parts out of “fields” around the water tower and radio house, under the gaze of partially sketched Movement heroes. As I relinquished my general contractor role—possibly for the last time as part of a generational leadership shift we’d undertaken, I felt entitled to one request: “Lázaro, please finish the mural in my lifetime.” In early October, Marlen Torres became PCUN’s third full-time radio staffer. As KPCN-LP Public Relations Director, she immediately took up coordinating the programming kick-off celebration, her first audience promotion initiative. Like Adrian, Marlen first connected with our Movement through Latinos Unidos Siempre. She had grown up in Mexico City and immigrated to Des Moines, Iowa before arriving in Oregon, not the common immigration path for mexicanos on the West Coast. She graduated from Western Oregon University with a B.A. in Social Science and arrived at PCUN with a no-nonsense toughness mixed with a tentative streak. Along with Adrian and Hozkar, Marlen was launching into uncharted personal, organizational and community waters. Adrian and Hozkar had a considerable head start and, with the exception of the Programming Committee, KPCN-LP’s daily world was heavy on the males. Even so, Marlen seldom backed down from a challenge put to her by others, by circumstances, or by herself.

Taking a name Practically every Spanish-language radio station has adopted a nickname— KWBY is La Pantera (the Panther), and KWIP, La Campeona (The Champ). Fittingly, the UFW named their entire network La Campesina (The Farmworker). Marlen coordinated PCUN’s search to find a suitable identifier for KPCN-LP, starting with a call to the community for nominations. Submissions ranged from the obvious (Radio PCUN) to the already spoken for (Campesina) to the obscure (Popcateplt, the “sleeping goddess”). They included a smattering of animals (hare, cow, tiger, eagle and she-lion-monkey). A few had double meanings, such as La Tuya (“Yours”, but also “Yo Mama”). On November 7th, a joint meeting of the PCUN board and the KPCN-LP Programming Committee voted in several rounds to winnow the field. Spasms of debate broke out along the way; more structured discussion set in when the choices narrowed to five. I had submitted two nominations, each on a separate quarter-sheet form. The form did not solicit the nominator’s name, but did provide two lines for any explanation or advocacy. Marlen had arranged, copied and distributed all 83 nomination slips before deliberations began. In preceding days, I had casually talked up “Radio ‘La Neta’” which I regarded as one my catchiest coinings in a long time. La Neta is street slang for “the deep-down truth”, often preceded reflexively and forcefully by “pura pinche”—the latter, a word we wouldn’t be using on the air (it’s roughly equivalent to the adjective, “f***ing”). La Neta struck me as hip, evocative of our image as reliably-informed and unafraid truth-tellers. Conveniently, it shared our call sign’s last letter. As for liabilities, La Neta might be regarded as too flip or too prone to become stale part way into what would be endless repetition. My fellow jurors liked La Neta, but not so much. It missed the final cut. . In the final round, two names almost evenly split the tally: Radio Movimiento and La Voz Del Pueblo (The People’s Voice). I voted for Movimiento but offered no comment. Someone pointed out that four words seemed like a lot for a name, but not for a slogan. A moment later, several people in unison called out the obvious: “Radio Movimiento, La Voz del Pueblo”, our name and slogan. Unanimous approval came instantaneously. The embrace of Movimiento struck me as a meaningful affirmation of KPCN-LP’s core identity as “political.” Before adjourning, we asked ourselves “would ‘El Pueblo’—The People—really take to the name ‘Radio Movimiento’?” The question didn’t elicit even a hint of misgiving.

Absorbed in the suspense of picking a “winner”, no one thought to ask who had submitted these two nominations. More than a few people in the room looked genuinely surprised that no one had recognized the lettering on the slip bearing the Radio Movimiento nomination as my handwriting. Since, over the years, I sometimes felt that my suggestions too frequently carried the day, I welcomed an unambiguous case of my compañeros uniting with an idea that happened to be mine rather than wondering if they went with an idea because it was mine. “Baptized” and Celebrated on Revolution Day Since our begin-broadcast deadline date of November 17th fell close to November 20th, the anniversary of the Mexican Revolution and a date wellingrained in Mexican community consciousness, we decided to organize our public launch and celebration of KPCN-LP programming then. Our slogan for the occasion became “on November 20th, there’ll be a radio revolution in Woodburn.” If KPCN-LP was “born” on August 20th, we baptized it on November 20th. A standing-room-only crowd gathered in PCUN’s meeting hall, impressive for a Monday evening and a nice mix of PCUN members, other local community residents, and supporters. The radio staff trio hosted the program, so elated by the turnout, the start of formal programming, and the sheer relief of reaching this long-anticipated day that they forgot their accumulated exhaustion and anxiety. The Woodburn High School Mariachi orchestra kicked off the program, adding to the home-town feel, followed by a customarily high-octane message from Ramón. He described his first visit to KUFW decades ago and recalled César Chávez’s enduring vision of radio in Movement hands. Listening in the back row, César’s youngest son, Anthony, nodded knowingly. Anthony had arrived hours earlier, his first visit to PCUN, accompanied by his son, Anthony Jr., and by Pepe Escamilla, Programming Director of the Radio Campesina network. Anthony’s service as Executive Director of Radio Campesina dated back to their low-budget, improvised-operations days. He felt right at home in Radio Movimiento’s bush-league atmosphere. “My dad loved PCUN and always took pride in everything you accomplished,” Anthony recalled later as he concluded his congratulatory speech. “He knew that someday your dream of your own radio would become a reality, just like ours did.” Before Anthony took the stage, the program hosts called up the two dozen of Radio Movimiento major contributors and steady volunteers in attendance. The framed certificate they each received named them “padrinos” (godparents), a conscious reference to the community custom—rooted in economic necessity—of enlisting social and family relations to help shoulder the costs and responsibilities

of rites of passage. Positing Radio Movimiento as the “child” meant that we all— PCUN “parents” and the padrinos—became compadres, a life-long status surely deserving of the framed display of padrino names hanging in the radio house foyer. The program concluded with a ceremonial “plug-in”—two mic cables which, uncharacteristically, didn’t connect any actual audio or radio output—and Anthony’s presentation of a UFW flag signed by his mother, Helen Chávez. As people exited the Hall for radio-house tours, including an opportunity to broadcast a live saludo or “shout out”, the evening’s final, spirited chants of ¡Si Se Puede! and ¡Ya Se Pudo! hung in the air, ringing with a kinetic sense of satisfaction.

Part VII: Radio Movimiento programming: what it’s all about Radio Movimiento’s programming line up—98% in Spanish—draws on four sources. First and foremost are live and pre-recorded shows we produce ourselves, accounting for about eighty hours every week. Second are mid-day, live national call-in and national/international news shows from Radio Bilingüe every weekday from. Third are re-broadcasts of public affairs shows we’ve recently produced and aired. Fourth are computer automated line-ups of music and our promotional and educational spots, aired mostly during overnight hours. From “zero” to “65” (hours) in 2.0 (months) Though the brainstorming about Radio Movimiento programming began at our mass gathering in September 2005, mustering a full line-up began in earnest a year later. About eight weeks before November “show time”, the seven-member Programming Committee formally called for proposals. They circulated a onepage background sheet about PCUN, KPCN-LP, and general guidelines on programming, plus a one-page form soliciting the program name, purpose, format, preferred time slot and support needed. The July 16th special membership assembly made it abundantly clear that PCUN controls KPCN-LP and decides its programming. Still, we wanted, intended and needed Radio Movimiento to be a community radio station. A range of voices, formats, genres, and styles would enrich Radio Movimiento in every sense, not least on the practical level: attracting and retaining volunteer programmers. This communitarian approach informed the PCUN board’s decision to place only one PCUN board member on the Programming Committee and to name non-PCUN members and youth as Committee members. Though everyone involved understood and accepted that “official” PCUN programming (produced in PCUN’s name) took precedence for time slots, the Committee required that all programs go through the proposal process. By the early October deadline, the committee had two dozens applications and accepted all, anxious to fill the weekday schedule. Though we promoted November 20th as full-time programming inauguration day, we had actually broadcast in “dress rehearsal” mode (live but with few listeners) about twelve hours a day starting November 14th, the day occupancy became official and our broadcast licenses applications were filed with the FCC. That “trial” week proved valuable for working out at least some of the kinks, both mechanical and human.

On Radio Revolution day, Radio Movmiento premiered a sixty-five hour per week line up of twenty-two locally-produced shows, nine of which produced two or more installments each week. Weekly programming would rise to 110 hours in January in 2007 and to 168 hours—“24/7”—in mid March. “Walk-ons” make are the team line-up La Hora Campesina, the “flagship” show and PCUN’s official outlet, aired weekday mornings from 7:00 to 10:00 and employed an expanded version of its format from the 1990s. Radio Bilingüe call-in and news programs anchored midday. Six local non-profits each produced a weekly community affairs show and four PCUN staffers each produced a public affairs or music show weekly as individuals. Youth-oriented shows dominated the late evening hours. We considered ourselves fortunate to have an ensemble of programs that roughly balanced of our mission’s three imperatives: education, entertainment and consciousness-raising. The need to fill programming hours led to less-than-intended scrutiny of proposals and, predictably, unintended outcomes. One early controversy grew out of one of the two religious-oriented programs the Committee approved. Though PCUN has generally maintained a respectable distance from institutional religion, an openly evangelical program landed on Radio Movimiento during evening prime time, prompting noticeable discomfort among some listeners and some PCUN leaders. More than a few asked (and many more wondered): had PCUN suddenly decided to join the “Aleluyas”?—a troubling thought for many in PCUN’s largely Catholic base. Given the broader implications, the PCUN Executive Committee stepped in and opted not to discontinue the program, but rather to move it to Sunday, once weekend programming commenced. The Executive Committee also laid down guidelines such as no praying on the air, no mentioning specific religious denominations or congregations, no proselytizing, and no content advocating what we regard as discrimination (e.g., denunciation of same-sex marriage). Of the three dozen on-air programmers, only five had prior radio experience (including Ramón and me via the original La Hora Campesina). Compounding inexperience and haste, we applied our “rely-on-us-and-ours” approach to most of our broadcasting challenges. Radio Movimiento rarely provided programmers a control-room engineer or host; each programmed and engineered their own shows. As a result, initial programmer training focused heavily on basic engineering responsibilities and techniques and on the most critical “do’s and don’ts”, especially the ones like obscenity rules which, if

violated, could endanger our broadcast license. Staying on the air was, justifiably, the most pressing imperative. The programming quality? Well… Not surprisingly, programming quality varied widely, depending on how well each programmer and program had traversed the evolutionary path from idea (whether vague or vivid) to choreographed plan, to first performance, on through refinements to either steady stride or staleness-induced fatigue. Some programs actually started with a working “format.” Others have struggled to find or fashion one. Radio Movimiento’s first year on the air teemed with moments ranging from the joyous and hilarious, to irritating or dull, the electric, dramatic, pedestrian, arresting, embarrassing, to the bizarre or magical, sometimes all in the same day. On the “needs improvement” docket, we find: songs abruptly cut off, the “cave” sound quality produced by talking with the wrong mic on, the “no verbal brakes” blather, the transitions in and out of musical breaks which have all the gracefulness of falling off a bike, the insufferable drivel of certain frequent callers, self-righteous sermonizing, the annoyingly-overused mantra of así es (“that’s the way it is”) and, of course, dead air. The Programming Committee laid down specific programming guidelines, such as banning songs with lyrics glorifying drugs, alcohol, abuse of women, gangs. The Committee occasionally stepped in to handle concerns or complaints about sexist or other offensive banter, and blatant or subtle “plugola” (illegal commercial promotion). Committee members debated the deeper and usually more subtle issues of quality, effective audience engagement, Movement identification and political consciousness raising. Like coffee connoseurs, we are endlessly searching for the ideal blend—in our case, having started closer to “Folger’s Instant”. Even put together, the foibles and shortcomings pale in comparison to the power Radio Movimiento has tapped: radio broadcast in ordinary voices—our own and the listeners who call our usually open phone lines, broadcasts by and for indigenous communities in their own languages, timely—even urgent—topics discussed in a frank and grounded manner, uncensored youth expression (within FCC rules), and boundless opportunity for creativity and novelty. A river of ideas run through it Radio Movimiento has unquestionably mined some rich veins of expression, suffusing programs across a wide landscape of purposes and perspectives:

 Conéctate con CAUSA (Get Connected With CAUSA) used a discussion and call-in format to delve into CAUSA’s campaigns on immigration issues and analysis of immigration politics. As described in the next section, host and producer, Lorena Manzo, CAUSA community organizer, took the show to daily broadcasts during the heights of the immigration legislative debate and community mobilizations.  La Lavadora (The Washing Machine) resembled an audio weekly magazine airing a unique mix of news items followed by commentary and easily the most diverse musical selections (from Rolling Stones to opera!) anywhere on Radio Movimiento, all expertly produced off site by a very accomplished and opinionated duo, photo journalist Paulina Hermosillo and independent media producer Matias Trejo.  Se Busca… (Wanted…) a listener-driven space to air appeals for support, usually grassroots fundraising for burial costs or for ill relatives lacking medical insurance, but also queries for lost relatives and even offers to barter services.  La Hora de los Pur’epecha (The Pur’epecha Hour) conjured a small town feel because host and Pur’epecha elder Pedro Torres personally knows most of the families residing in the listening area who come from the Pur’epecha region of southwest Michoacan. His music collection in the indigenous Pur’epecha language supplied a never-ending stream of community favorites, prompting a flood of calls with announcements and dedications. Pete regularly faced good-natured needling on the streets from callers unable to get through. The program has truly bonded a community within the community.  Sal Del Closet (Come Out of the Closet), whose provocative title remained ever ambiguous (what’s hidden?), attracted a substantial and loyal youth listenership every weeknight from 10:00 to Midnight. Hozkar originated and sometimes still anchored the show, though an informal group of youth seemed to rotate the on-air roles. Hozkar adroitly incorporated relevant current events, such as arranging live callin reports from the youth leaders in the Movement delegations occasionally sent to Capitol Hill to lobby for comprehensive immigration reform.  La Hora Mixteca (The Mixtec Hour), actually four hours of Radio Bilingüe-produced international simulcast, linked KPCN-LP and two dozen Bilingüe affiliates with stations in Oaxaca every Sunday, facilitating live, on-air dedications and messages originated in any listening area and heard in all the others.

Some Radio Movimiento programmers adopted personal nicknames, a well-entrenched custom on commercial Spanish-language media. Identities somewhere on the road to household name status included: Chapulin (grasshopper), El Actor (the actor), La Voz Mas Dulce (the sweetest voice), El Chiquillo (the kid), El Zorro (the fox), La Buelita (grandma), and Angelito (‘lil’ angel). Interestingly, no one had adopted an explicitly political name, such as “defensor del pueblo” (the People’s defender). My most direct contribution to Radio Movimiento programming was a weekly, one-hour interview show called “Dinos: ¿Quién Eres?” (Tell Us Who You Are). I suppose that role qualified me as Radio Movimiento’s very own “Terry Gross” (host of NPR’s “Fresh Air” interview show). Each week, I interviewed in Spanish one of my fellow workers and leaders in the Movement, or another local leader, for instance, a school teacher active in the community. Occasionally, I devoted the hour to interviewing an activist from afar who was passing through. The program’s sustainability lay in having a relatively available stream of guests who could recount their life path and its merger onto—or at least its intersection with—Movement “avenue”. Dinos: ¿Quién Eres? proved consistently rewarding in ways typifying some of what’s most compelling about Radio Movimiento. I always learned something significant—occasionally profound—about my guests, even though I thought I knew many of them pretty well. The audience undoubtedly learned much more. Telling their stories on the air drew my guests deeper in the Radio Movimiento world and drew the audience closer to the Movement on a more personal plane. Some guests came in apprehensive but, without fail, their selfconsciousness evaporated about five minutes into the interview. They left energized and, in some cases, imagining themselves for the first time playing a role in Radio Movimiento. Since the interviews were recorded for later rebroadcast, they steadily grew into a valuable collection of audio self-portraits we would otherwise never have taken the time to create. We have had little empirical evidence of audience size or loyalty for Dinos: ¿Quién Eres? but some listeners reported experiencing “driveway” moments. One woman, listening as she drove, told me that she pulled off the road and parked until the program finished, rather than continue on her way to Salem, well beyond KPCN-LP’s signal range. Radio Movimiento’s young programming life has already included a dozen or more failed ventures. They included laudable but obviously short-lived efforts with names like Transmitiendo Culturas (Passing on Cultures), Directo Al Corazón (Straight to the Heart), and Un Todo en Tres Puntos (a Whole in Three

Parts). All showed promise and, no doubt, even flashes of brilliance, but lost altitude due to pilot or navigator fatigue, cargo overload, and/or clunky design. It turned out that Cipriano’s sarcastic saying, “you’ve got the talking done,” didn’t apply so well to radio programming. We never get the talking done. Talking’s not the easy part.

Part VIII: Becoming a Force in the Community (More) Mobilizations Build Audience; Audience Catalyzes (More) Mobilizations Though Radio Movimiento instantly caught on in the community, especially at local workplaces and with youth, the roller coaster immigration debate cemented RM’s identity as the “must listen” outlet, at least when that “ride” was running. The “Immigrant Spring” outpourings in 2006 had momentarily blunted the anti-immigrant legislative offensive and ushered in the first real legislative test for comprehensive immigration reform. When reform stalled in May 2006, the focus shifted to the November 2006 congressional elections. Political analysts and party activists framed the strategic question as “would anti-immigrant demagoguery preserve Republican control?” Though Republicans went on to lose their congressional majorities and most observers therefore concluded that the demagoguery had largely fallen short, politicians continued to fear reactionary backlash. In Oregon, the Republicans narrowly lost control of the state House of Representatives. Governor Ted Kulongoski, the Democratic incumbent, glided to re-election against a formerly moderate Republican who turned sharply antiimmigrant to win his Party’s nomination. During the campaign, when this outcome hardly seemed inevitable, the Governor and some “vulnerable” Democratic legislators employed tough-sounding rhetoric on immigration, emphasizing enforcement, hoping to “innoculate” themselves against Republican attack ads and mailers. Despite achieving full Democractic Party control at the State Capitol, the Governor and some legislative committee leaders moved forward on proposals restricting undocumented immigrants’ access to driver’s licenses. (Oregon remained one of eight states that didn’t restrict access.) On February 22, 2007, at a state Senate Transportation Committee hearing convened to consider REAL-ID implementation measures including requiring “legal presence” to get a driver’s license, Latinos filled half the main hearing room plus two entire overflow rooms—an impressive turn-out for mid-afternoon on a Thursday. Latinos in such numbers rarely attend hearings, and their presence clearly changed the atmosphere. Latinos who testified seemed more confident. Some anti-immigrant zealots chose their words more carefully while others blasted away, provoking derisive laughter and murmuring. State senators saw and keenly felt the shift; one previously lukewarm senator left the hearing firmly in our camp.

We credit the unprecedented turn-out and its impacts to a week’s worth of daily Radio Movimiento features on the issue and the hearing. Events at and after the hearing provided rich material for discussion on La Hora Campesina and other shows over the succeeding few days, including anti-immigrant testimony putting forth wild and insulting assertions such as “Al-Qaeda pays smugglers $3,000 to cross terrorists at the Mexican border” or “prisoners should harvest the crops,” or the Ag lobbyist who supported restrictions “even if it costs growers fifty percent of their workforce.” Listeners who had attended the hearing got a more detailed description of key testimony. Listeners who couldn’t attend—certainly a much larger number— stayed engaged and updated. The universal outrage surely kept listenership strong and growing as listeners started workplace conversations with comments in the vein of “check out what I heard on Radio Movimiento…” Radio Movimiento’s mobilization power proved itself again on May 1, 2007. Unlike 2006, when millions marched and rallied in dozens of cities, no national consensus propelled a May 1st action in 2007. Also, employer cooperation or receptivity—generally high in 2006, at least in Oregon—seemed decidedly chillier in 2007. Commercial radio devoted some coverage to rally preparations but nothing compared to the previous year. In sum, key indicators— national reports, workplace buzz, local mainstream media and fear generated by the increasing number of raids—all pointed to drastically lower participation. Naturally, we dedicated major airtime on Radio Movimiento to the May 1st rally. We started about three weeks beforehand and experimented with a “multitheme” approach: frequent repetition of the basics (where, when), “what’s at stake” commentary, updates on evolving plans in other cities, workers calling in reports of workplaces planning proactive or de facto shut down on May 1st, transportation and parking bulletins, and rumor-busting. Looking out at 5,000 people gathered on the State Capitol’s front steps that Tuesday surprised no one more than us. At the final logistics check-in the day before, predictions among PCUN staff ranged from 1,000 to 2,500 people. We “scientifically” proved Radio Movimiento’s role in the May 1st turn out when rally co-host Abel Valladares called out “who here today heard about this march on Radio Movimiento?” and a forest of arms sprouted from the crowd. The anxiously awaited U.S. Senate debate on S. 1639, an immigration reform “grand bargain”, again challenged and energized Radio Movimiento. Multiple days of floor debate, one stretch in early June 2007 and another in late June, handed Radio Movimiento an unprecedented opportunity to serve and organize the community simultaneously. During the debates, daily news reports

on Univision TV and commercial radio came off more confusing than informative. They lacked context and they inadequately or incorrectly characterized the amendments which the Senate had approved or defeated. To fill the void, the team which produces the weekly show, Conéctate Con CAUSA gathered the latest information from CAUSA’s reliable sources in and around Capitol Hill, distilled it into an accessible, fifteen minute summary, and aired it daily at 3:00 PM. Throughout the day, other programmers reminded listeners to tune in at that hour. When CAUSA and PCUN decided to take the community’s demand for comprehensive reform directly to Senator Gordon Smith’s Portland office, Radio Movimiento once again figured prominently in the plan. Smith had historically supported legalization but expected to face a tough re-election in 2008. He sent signals that he might pull back to avoid losing anti-immigrant voters in his Republican base. His wavering made him a prime target nationally for proimmigrants’ rights pressure. We mobilized members and listeners to travel to Smith’s office every afternoon for several days, joined there by a few dozen supporters for an hour of picketing and a short rally. Though our numbers there seldom surpassed one hundred, we found a way to keep picketers’ spirits high and amplify our message. We began each day’s mini-rally by placing a cell phone call to Radio Movimiento studios and “broadcast” the rally live to our Woodburn audience, giving them a “you are there” sense. We’d begin the rally by explaining the broadcast arrangement, motivating the picketers with the message that “we’re connecting thousands to this action.” Live reporting gained an extra measure of gravity when the Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau (“ICE,” formerly part of the INS) conducted the largest single day raid in Oregon history, arresting 167 workers at the Fresh Del Monte plant in North Portland on June 12th. CAUSA statewide coordinator Aeryca Steinbauer called in intermittently all day to Radio Movimiento from the scene, starting an hour after the raid began. When the on-again, off-again Senate debate on immigration reform suddenly collapsed June 28th, seemingly for the duration of the congressional term, Radio Movimiento faced a compound challenge: a dispirited audience potentially inclined to tune out and our sudden lack of an urgent and irresistible topic. This time, we found no snappy come-back. Rather, we just had to work through the shock, disappointment, and anxiety right along with our audience. In the aftermath of congressional debate meltdown, we also re-focused on the Oregon legislative session then winding down, where our Movement had succeeded in de-railing all twenty anti-immigrant bills introduced—including

driver’s license restrictions. As in 2006, preventing something bad couldn’t compete with the despondent feelings generated by failing to achieve something positive: a legalization opportunity for twelve million. The state legislative session outcome was a victory for us because few had predicted we’d end the state legislative session unscathed. At the close of 2007, driver’s license had once again become a hot topic on Radio Movimiento. This time, the community faced a likely irreversible threat. The governor had issued an executive order on November 16th directing the DMV to develop rules restricting acceptable documentation and imposing a de facto legal presence requirement on anyone seeking a license. As community outrage and fear lit up the RM phone lines, another life cycle of radio engagement had begun. Developing a Radio Movimiento presence you can see and measuring the one you can’t Though we were heartened—and relieved—that Radio Movimiento’s energetic Mexican Revolution Day kick-off generated word of mouth buzz, we understood that building and holding a substantial audience would require endless promotional campaigning. Commercial radio stations obviously no longer wanted our advertising business, at least not to promote KPCN-LP. Who could blame them? KWIP and KWBY both publicly “welcomed” Radio Movimiento to the Spanish-language radio family but our well-informed sources reported that our emergence caused much hand wringing in private. Though our broadcast area—three hundred square miles—covered only about a fourth of theirs, they had good reasons for anxiety. Radio Movimiento’s programming was novel and KPCN-LP was the first Spanish-language station on FM in the Valley. Our station’s FM stereo sound quality contrasted sharply with the four Spanish-language stations’ tinny AM sound. Just the same, we took nothing for granted and earmarked scarce financial resources to printing 1,000 bumper stickers and hundreds of lawn/store window signs and t-shirts. We automatically inserted “escucha a KPCN-LP, 96.3 FM, Radio Movimiento, La Voz del Pueblo” (listen to…) into practically every PCUN flyer and member mailing. We reiterated that message, in one form or another, on PCUN’s 32-square-foot illuminated reader board passed daily by some 7,000 cars. Only lack of funding prevented us from renting billboards at strategic locations proclaiming something like “now entering Radio Movimiento territory”.

On a Friday afternoon in April, we conducted an informal audience survey at local banks and food stores. We button-holed workers on their way to cash paychecks or grocery shop and asked them “do you listen to Radio Movimiento?” Of the 125 who indicated that they lived or worked in the Woodburn area, about 25% said “yes.” Another 25% who initially said “no” changed to “yes” when we followed up with “La radio de PCUN”. The results pleasantly surprised us and provided a glimpse of what consumer marketers call “brand identification”. Understandably, “PCUN”, with 22 years in circulation, tested stronger than the four-month old “Radio Movimiento” brand. While we had intentionally chosen to give a KPCN-LP an identity broader than PCUN, we also sought to forge a direct connection to PCUN. Therefore, we were not at all concerned that some listeners bypassed “Radio Movimiento” and more explicitly connected KPCN-LP with PCUN. We faced this same dynamic when designing the logo for Radio Movimiento. We ultimately settled on an adaptation of PCUN’s logo, a fist emitting sun-like rays, rising between two mountain peaks. Lázaro crafted a clever image, tilting the fist counter-clockwise 45º, and addding a 1950s-style mic inserted into the fist. He replaced the rays with four concentric radio waves rising out from the mountains, the outermost arc inter-cut with “Radio Movimiento 96.3 FM” and an inner arc underlining “La Voz del Pueblo”. To garner more visibility, we relied on our event organizing expertise, and we appropriated other stations’ gimmicks. The latter included the well-worn merchandise “give-away”, which we employed very successfully on Children’s Day, April 30th. We handed out presents donated by local businesses to two hundred kids who each came to the station (accompanied by an adult) to sing a song, recite a poem, make animal sounds, impersonate actors or answer questions about the radio. That activity fulfilled the show-business maxim of “leaving them wanting more” and we quickly “delivered” by organizing Mother’s Day and Father’s Day celebrations in the Woodburn town square. The all-afternoon Mother’s Day festivities drew hundreds to the games, live music, and booths. We co-organized the event with the City, keeping costs to a minimum. Radio Movimiento programmers hosted in shifts, putting faces to their radio voices. Such events are a staple of radio promotion, and everything about the Mother’s Day event—right down to our shiny new KPCN-LP vinyl banner— exuded a feeling that Radio Movimiento had “arrived”. The fact that KWBY had abruptly withdrawn from its historical role co-organizing the event—opening the door for us—accentuated that feeling. The Father’s Day event on June 17th employed a similar format and the same venue but added a political dimension. U.S. Senate leaders had announced

their intention to resume immigration reform debate in late June. Sentator Gordon Smith had just shifted sharply rightward, casting a procedural vote to kill the proposal. CAUSA leaders sought new tactics to pressure Smith. They had concluded that simply resuming the protests at his Portland office offered diminishing returns in part because few Woodburn-area residents could get there weekdays at 5 PM. Father’s Day at the Woodburn town square offered Radio Movimiento an opportunity to continue building its promotional momentum and provided CAUSA a bigger audience to enlist. The event’s centerpiece activity gathered about thirty children of immigrant families on the stage. They held up a twenty foot banner reading: “Senator Smith: Reunite Families; Path to Citizenship for All Workers”. Every child who spoke began by wishing Senator Smith a happy Father’s Day. As ten-year-old Diana Sánchez-Manzo read out a letter to Smith, she held up a framed photo of Sgt. Jaime Sánchez. “Even though my uncle Jaime is a U.S. citizen and has served two tours in Iraq, his brother, my father, has to live in the shadows because he’s undocumented. Fifteen years have passed and he’s still waiting for his legal residency,” she continued. “If you help immigration reform to pass, you will also be helping my father”. Choking back tears, she held up an empty frame. “Help me so that the next time I will be able to show you my daddy’s face”. Two days later, CAUSA leaders played a five minute video of the activity, including Diana’s statement, at Senator Smith’s Washington D.C. office and posted it on YouTube. Once again, the impact of community organizing and community radio proved greater than the sum of their parts. KPCN-LP’s growing audience clearly worried the commercial stations’ owners. They reacted more quickly and boldly than we expected. By April, 2007, we had company on the FM dial. The Christian broadcasters who own KPRY, a Portland FM station, reincarnated it as “El Rey” (“the King”) and reached deep into the Willamette Valley with their 24/7 Spanish broadcasting. KWBY, La Pantera, immediately followed suit, purchasing Salem-based KSND for $1,700,000 and began simulcasting their 940 AM programming on FM in June. Our radio neighborhood had suddenly become crowded. The novelty factor that benefited Radio Movimiento in our first weeks of broadcasting surely worked as well for El Rey and even La Pantera. Radio Movimiento programmers reported some fall off in calls, but by all anecdotal measures, our audience remained solid. Radio Movimiento brought out part of its following at the first annual Quermes. A tradition in rural Mexico, a quermes features food booths, entertainment, a petting zoo, dunk tank, darts, and other booth games. If the barnraising had lent the PCUN compound a carnival-like appearance, the Quermes, organized a year later on another August Sunday to celebrate the radio’s first birthday, delivered the real thing. Strikingly, the afternoon’s largest crowd,

probably four hundred strong, was heavily Mixteco, another sign that Radio Movimiento had tapped deep into existing social networks.

Part IX: Defining and striving for the next level Like campaigning to promote Radio Movimiento, programming improvement never ends. We recognized early on that having an overwhelming majority of inexperienced programmers and a sizeable number with only limited grounding in our Movement called for a structured approach to capacity and relationship building. We instituted quarterly all-programmer meetings as a key component. The gatherings, usually three hours on a Saturday morning, delved to varying degrees into three general topics: programming, technical matters, and fundraising to support Radio Movimiento. At the radio staff’s request, I delivered a brief opening address to the forty programmers who gathered for the first quarterly meeting on February 3rd—about eleven weeks into full-time broadcasting. “We could have failed,” I began. “A year ago, we had just begun to plan. Six or even three months ago, we had many possible routes to failure. We surprised many people, including ourselves, by succeeding.” My own surprise momentarily re-surfaced and then gave way to pride in yet another historic “first.” We had convened this gathering of ordinary community folks, with youth comprising half the group, united by a new purpose: expressing ourselves to connect with a mass of others. In an instant, the immensity of that challenge grounded me and I visualized hazards in the road ahead. “Keeping this dream-come-true alive, and truly being the People’s voice, will require deeper unity and the patience to learn and improve,” I predicted. “We’ll have to find the balance between encouraging voluntary cooperation and enforcing the rules. And we’ll have to be mindful of the power we now wield in the community.” Though hardly an inspiring vision, my comments probably served as a suitable introduction. The day’s agenda was necessarily dominated by the nuts and bolts of “how-to’s” and “do’s and don’ts”: sign the engineering log, heed the banned music list, stay courteous with disrespectful callers, clean up after yourself…and did we mention ‘sign the log’? Subsequent quarterly meetings lost some of their initial energy and sometimes briefly devolved into gripe sessions. Programmer attendance declined to an average of 70%. Even so, the meeting also continued to produce flashes of fast-thinking creativity such as role-playing tactics to parry callers’ or guests’ on-air homophobic or sexist comments. The all-programmer gatherings, regular email updates, and volunteer mobilizations each contributed to counteracting the “silo effect” of programmers focusing exclusively on their own programs. Results were mixed and often hard to quantify. Forging a vibrant, politically conscious corps of radio activists remained more art than science. We frequently hit the limits of volunteers’ capacity for capacity building. We suffered the effects of the considerable gap

between our ability to design and offer training and volunteers’ willingness and ability to absorb it. The gap tended to close when programmers could no longer tolerate their frustration level with inefficiencies, mistakes, and redundancies and resolved to seek and make use of support. “Record your show and make yourself listen to it!” became our favorite entreaty for hastening the day. It was a motivational tool for change as effective as it was underutilized. The pains of chronic programming improvement syndrome afflicted us all. The Programming Committee’s periodic evaluation of programs set off largely unsatisfying debates probing the gray areas between personal (dis)taste and tolerance for diversity of expression. Some of us struggled with what we perceive as Radio Movimiento’s proximity to the slippery slope of commercial influence. We’d wince every time we’d hear a programmer employ the sound-effect-laden and overwrought or blustery delivery which typifies much of mainstream Spanishlanguage radio. We crafted underwriting acknowledgements that, we told ourselves, don’t constitute commercials because they include no call to action or qualitative claims (e.g., “we serve the best food”). Still, I don’t think any of us got near the point where we’d report our condition as: “it only hurts when I listen.” To our surprise, we weren’t plagued by programmer absenteeism. Programmers proved remarkably responsible for covering their programming shifts. If eighty percent of life is just showing up, Radio Movimiento has stayed ahead of that curve. Despite it all, Radio Movimiento has produced a steadily increasing amount of programmatic sparkle, sizzle, and buzz (not the feedback-induced kind), whether it’s the daily “Flash Noticiero” encapsulating for re-play the choicest news items from that morning’s edition of La Hora Campesina, or mega-pop stars’ greetings to Radio Movimiento listeners recorded as they passed through Oregon on tour, or the countless versions of our station ID recorded in the voices of everyday people. And there’s more in the pipeline. Radio Movimiento will soon begin airing a weekly show exploring issues of war and peace which, tragically, are very timely and necessary topics. The Latino community nationally has remained on the margins of the Iraq war debate and anti-war activism, especially in our area. This new program, co-produced by PCUN and CAUSA with McKenzie River Gathering Foundation support, will seek to surface and connect with community members directly affected by the Iraq War. It will invite listeners to consider and contribute to a critical analysis of all the ways—from self-evident to subtle—in which this and other wars have impacted the Latino community.

Another program in development, tentatively entitled Viva, Nuestra Historia (“Our History Lives” but also a play on “Long Live Our History”), identifies important events in our Movement’s thirty years (and counting) history. We will produce three to five minute narrative summaries, each told by a participant in the event and broadcast the segment on the event’s anniversary date. Our list of suitable events already exceeds one hundred. Even if Viva, Nuestra Historia develops gradually, we’ll someday have a story to air for each day of the year, stories that never go stale and that aggregate into a broadcast and documentary mosaic. Though we’ve promised it too many times in our first year, Radio Movimiento will stream and podcast programming on the internet, reaching at first a boutique audience mostly of allies and community radio-activists. We hope it will eventually serve as a handy medium for the computer-literate among our local audience to listen in while away (for example, in Mexico) and for their family and friends to do likewise from afar. Underwriting and measuring our audience also stand out as areas primed for strategic growth. Local Latino businesses represent a more elusive base of financial support than we first imagined. A handful of them supported KPCNLP’s creation and regularly donate items for give-aways. So far, many other businesses view Radio Movimiento only through the prism of commercial radio, as an outlet for traditional advertising. We don’t offer that, though we believe that businesses that associate themselves with us will gain a marketing advantage with our audience. The entry of other Spanish-language FMs clearly entrenched the dominant advertising paradigm and reinforced the assumption that our audience share is limited. Clearly, we have our work cut out for us. Major institutions like universities seem more receptive, seeing Radio Movimiento as an avenue to connecting with the “talent” in our audience. Support from individual contributors, whether within or beyond the local community, competes to some extent with PCUN’s well-established membership dues and general support solicitations. Radio Movimiento’s model for financial sustainability remains a work in progress. Four years’ work from a four days’ trip Tackling Radio Movimiento’s challenges had, at times, seemed bewildering, even overwhelming. To better visualize solutions and enlist the wisdom, experience and support of trusted radio organizations, Adrian, Hozkar, Marlen and I traveled to Fresno and Bakersfield, California, home of Radio Bilingüe and Radio Campesina, respectively, in May, 2007. The top leadership

and staffs of both networks received us most warmly, unreservedly sharing their time, information, stories, ideas and their questions. We departed with enough to think about—and work on—to last us four years. Before we stepped on the plane to San José, the trip had already yielded valuable results and insights. The three full-time RM staff had never gone out of town simultaneously. They had to make elaborate arrangements to ensure (or at least maximize the chances for) smooth operations during their absence. Accomplishing that, alone, made Radio Movimiento less fragile and drew volunteers and other PCUN staff into radio roles they’d never experienced. We spent a full day each at Bilingüe and Campesina. We already knew both to be committed, effective, seasoned organizations, each operating a radio network but with very different programming strategies. Radio Bilingüe is a largely de-centralized network, combining six directly operated stations all in California, fifty-nine affiliates (including KPCN-LP) in twenty-three states and another thirty-two affiliates in Mexico. Like KPCN-LP, many affiliates air only certain slices of Bilingüe programming. Bilingüe’s flagship station in Fresno features a wide mix of music genres and formats, considerably more varied than Radio Movimiento’s programming. If you approached Bilingüe’s two-story headquarters on Fresno’s lowincome eastside without looking up, you could mistake it for a dental offices building. Viewed from across the street, the forest of satellite dishes and antennas mounted on the roof suggest something else. Though considerably bigger than the Radio Movimiento house, it felt almost as cramped inside, with desks and file cabinets wedged into any available space and even a few not-so-available spaces. The main broadcast studio didn’t seem much bigger than ours, but it contained five times the equipment. In a nearby production booth, you could only extend one arm at a time. We felt right at home. We had met Bilingüe’s Director of Broadcasting, María Eraña, at the barnraising and knew that she’d spent many years at Bilingüe. She introduced and showed us around, answered dozens of questions about FCC compliance, grants, programmer training, etiquette, accountability, audience measurement, and community events, like Bilingüe’s huge annual mariachi festival. María often added stories colorfully illustrating how they had learned the hard way. We put names with faces, exchanged information with peers, getting more than we gave. We taped an interview, and guested on the national mid-day call-in. At the ended a very full day, María hosted a dinner and joined our ongoing discussion about the leadership dynamic nicknamed the “jefita syndrome.” Within Radio Movimiento staff team, we had noticed a pattern of gender roles resembling

“mom and the kids”. At times, Marlen, a youg mother of two, chided Adrian or Hozkar, also young but both childless, for actual or perceived carelessness which she associated with immaturity. For their part, Adrian and Hozkar chafed at what they regarded as scolding and overprotectiveness. After hearing arguments from all sides, María issued her verdict: “The syndrome is real because we bring our whole selves to the workplace, including our cultural norms. That’s especially true in the movement because we care so passionately about our work. We’ve dedicated ourselves to make change happen, and therefore we can’t be afraid to struggle. Struggle begins with honesty. This discussion is a good example.” Her validation and insights resonated deeply. Before arriving at either Bilingüe or Campesina, we knew how their programming compared, but we refreshed our recollections by tuning the rental car’s radio alternately to each as we cruised down Highway 99 from Fresno to Bakersfield. Campesina has nine stations in three states and commands a huge audience, including the largest in Phoenix’s Spanish-speaking radio market. The stations are linked by satellite, and programming is centralized in Bakersfield, though each station airs some local commercials, PSAs and programming in specific slots, such as the popular early morning show, Despierta Campesino (Wake Up, Farmworker). Campesina’s headquarters, located in a commercial and light industrial section on Bakersfield’s west side, was everything that Bilingüe’s wasn’t. We walked into a modern, spacious, well-appointed, high-tech state of the art facility which Campesina had acquired in 2000 at a bargain-basement price in the depths of the dot-com bust. Although the surroundings didn’t remind us of home, the people certainly did. Campesina Executive Director Anthony Chávez walked us through the building and we met dozens of Campesina staffers. With every introduction he got excited all over again as he said: “these are the folks from the union in Oregon who invited us to inaugurate their station.” In the midst of this mesmerizing setting, Anthony left us speechless every time he described Radio Movimiento as amazing. Just as I remember César doing when he visited us during PCUN’s infancy, Anthony dwelled on the struggle and the missteps, not the successes and the accolades. In Radio Campesina’s early days, he and his older brother, Paul, “didn’t know what we didn’t know,” Anthony recalled. “The way we learned was to go to trade conferences and just keep asking questions.” This umpteenth retelling still made him laugh and he continued: “We called it the “pest” method of research because we’d hear the manufacturers’ reps and station execs say ‘here come the Chávez brothers,’ and they’d glance around for an escape route or try to

look busy.” I was struck by the juxtaposition of such openness and approachability with the accomplishment and status all around us in Campesina’s facilities. Anthony described Campesina’s target audience as “new immigrants, twenty to fifty years old.” The network tailored programming exclusively to their tastes and interests. “Those are the workers our Movement seeks to organize,” he explained “so the kinds of music I like doesn’t matter here. Holding a truly mass audience means we turn out thousands to rallies and dozens to local UFW meetings by airing announcements. Imagine how much time organizers save and how much more organizing they can do when Campesina does much of the mobilizing for them.” Anthony’s son, César Jr., especially impressed us. Only in his midtwenties, he had come to work full-time at Campesina right out of high school. He showed us the rows of racks of audio and computer components which he had installed, teaching himself as he went. He eventually expanded his role to include managing all of the Campesina network’s automation and technical compliance. Mari Martínez, producer of the popular afternoon call-in show Punto de Vista, (“Point of View”) detailed Campesina’s “theme of the day” approach. We had noticed that Bilingüe also employed it. “As a moderator, I constantly try to put myself in the listeners’ shoes,” she stressed. “Experts talk in ways that lose people and callers can wander on to other topics. Keeping it all clear and connected: it’s a simple goal and a hard job.” At our last meeting of the day, Pepe Escamilla gave a two-minute summary of his two decades with Campesina, as an on-air personality for years and then as director of programming. Hozkar and Adrian pressed him on the programming homogeneity and the relatively limited number of caller-requested songs aired. “Playing requests creates a ‘desert’”, Pepe countered in his “I’ve seen it all” manner. “You’ve got to think of the whole audience, not just the small segment that actively engages”. Hozkar and Adrian didn’t seem convinced, but it clearly gave them food for thought. We also visited La Paz, the United Farm Workers headquarters thirty-five miles east of Bakersfield. We met with Paul Chávez and visited the César E. Chávez conference center located next a courtyard where César is buried. I had come to La Paz at least a half dozen times and Hozkar had visited once before. Adrian and Marlen reveled in their first opportunity to soak in a deeper sense of the farmworker movement in California and meet more of the people who have made history.

Paul Chávez invited us to dinner at his house, located within the La Paz compound. Our part-of-the-family-like bond with the Chávez family and other UFW Movement leaders stemmed from their close relationship with PCUN’s late co-founder, Cipriano Ferrel. Growing up in Delano in the 1960’s, Cipriano became close friends with two of César’s daughters, Linda and Sylvia. César’s and Cipriano’s mutual affection and regard rubbed off on those around them. UFW and PCUN leaders maintained close and lasting connections. We have pursued strikingly similar strategies even though we have interacted relatively infrequently. As we lounged on Paul’s patio, overlooking the Tehachapi mountains, the conversation turned to “progress” and how to make it. Like his father, Paul reflexively articulated big ideas and bold visions, tempered by a self-deprecating streak. Looking at me, Paul laid out his view. “We, the veteranos (old-timers), we defend the past, how things have always been done and the ideas, the ideology, they represent. That’s why I find myself resisting change, so the people I work with, especially the younger ones, have had to push me to let them do things in new ways.” Hozkar and Adrian looked at me suspensefully: would I associate or distance myself from Paul’s “we”? Marlen shot me a look that said “See?!”, as in “I rest my case”. I nodded in agreement, and they silently rejoiced. In their eyes, I was “busted”. In that moment at least, I got no credit for the times I had told them “no matter how much we prepare the way, there will come a circumstance and a time when you’ll have to take it from us and run with it.” We didn’t put “leadership transition” on the work “docket” which we took back to Woodburn. It was already on the agenda. We did add a host of ideas, including the one we all agreed seemed the biggest. We define our audience by what we program. How does PCUN decide whom we most want and need for a core audience? No definitive answer jumped out, only hard choices. The radio team returned to Oregon with a confidence that nothing, not even the “audience” quandary, could diminish. Radio Movimiento was farther along and had achieved much more than we had thought. KPCN-LP and its story (continue to) get noticed Establishing and running Radio Movimiento attracted an above-average level of media and public notice and propelled PCUN and KPCN-LP into the media reform limelight. The barnraising and programming inauguration generated front-page headlines and color photos above the fold in Oregon’s Spanish-language weekly papers. Prominent coverage there had become commonplace for major PCUN and

CAUSA events or announcements. General circulation daily newspapers (Salem Statesman Journal and The Oregonian) ran their usual, more modest stories. The Associated Press picked them up and, in turn, local public radio read out excerpts in their news summaries. KBOO and KBCS (Seattle) ran community radio features on the barnraising. And, lest we forget, the Woodburn Independent broke its exclusive exposé on the “red flag on the water tower” controversy! In early September, 2007, well after the initial media “splashes,” The Sunday Oregonian, Oregon’s largest circulation daily, published a major feature on Radio Movimiento’s indigenous community and language programming, prompting a brief flurry of interest and congratulatory comments. Though appreciated and helpful, this reporting shed little light on the fuller story of a union, a movement and a community acquiring a powerful, even transformative tool. The media reform/democracy world, however, spotlighted KPCN-LP with unexpected frequency and national prominence. Prometheus’ involvement certainly accounts for generating the lion’s share of awareness about KPCN-LP beyond Oregon, including connecting PepperSpray Production, a Seattle indymedia collective, with events in Woodburn. We had no plan to video tape the station-building process, much less produce a documentary about it. In two prior large-scale campaigns, the PCUN’s Tenth Anniversary Organizing Campaign in 1995, and CAUSA’s Immigrant Worker Freedom Ride contingent in 2003, we had invited Portland-based filmmaker Tom Chamberlin to shadow any and every move. In each case, Tom masterfully edited fifty-plus hours of material into a captivating, fifty-or-so minute feature. Maybe this time we feared that we’d document a failure. Maybe we simply had become completely focused on avoiding one. In sum, we didn’t even contemplate video. Fortunately, PepperSpray’s Bill Birney did. Bill called me around the time we received our building permit. He hoped to come down and film the radio house “before” scene plus some general PCUN images. “We only need a few minutes of on-camera interviews and otherwise we’d just film what you all are doing”, Bill assured. We normally treat such requests warily, but, guaranteeing nothing, I agreed to meet him. He and Randy Rowland arrived in the midst of a weekend remodeling brigade. Their excitement rose as they saw the PCUN compound, grasped the remodel plan’s audacity and observed that day’s makeshift crew in action. I found intriguing Bill’s idea to produce a short, professional-grade “backgrounder”, the kind corporations increasingly create and supply to

understaffed commercial TV news departments, hoping that they’ll run it as-is or use it as backdrop for anchorperson narration. “It’s time we tried that, and this is an appealing story,” he argued. “Those stations will be more disposed to cover the barnraising if they’ve run a story beforehand and more likely to run that story if we supply it.” The Prometheans had mentioned this same strategy, and Bill had hooked up with them. “Go ahead and get started,” I told him. We never said “stop.” PepperSpray grew out of the 1999 anti-World Trade Organization protests in Seattle and produced solid video works. Ya Se Pudo (We Did It!), their 11minute barnraising documentary, and KPCN, Radio Movimiento, their 26-minute version, furthered that tradition. They edited Ya Se Pudo in under four weeks and premiered it before an audience of nearly a thousand people at Town Hall in Seattle on September 15, 2006, opening for Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman. The Northwest Community Radio Conference had invited Amy to keynote and they gave Petri and me each a few minutes to speak before showing the video. After briefly introducing PCUN and KPCN-LP, I moved right to our slogan of the moment: “On Mexican Revolution Day, November 20th, there’ll be a radio revolution in Woodburn.” The crowd erupted; that line had passed its first test outside the Mexican community. I continued: “That day, we open a school without walls. Those who listen regularly will learn, little by little, how this complicated society operates and how it perpetrates and perpetuates inequity. Some day, listeners will go to a local school board meeting, not simply to support our call, but because they’ve come to really understand the issues, the process, who the decision-makers are, and because they’ve got opinions they’re ready to express.” Our “vision statement” received a standing ovation, as did Ya Se Pudo. When Amy came on to address her many followers and read from her new book, she went out of her way to welcome us to the community radio family. KPCN-LP programming wasn’t on the radio dial, but KPCN-LP was already on the radar of a thousand media communitarians in Seattle. The Radio Movimiento story reached a much wider media democracy audience at the January 2007 National Conference for Media Reform in Memphis, organized by Free Press. Adrian delivered a nine-minute address to a plenary session. He opened by making sure everyone present knew—and practiced—the farmworker hand clap (in unison, gradually accelerating) and the “Sí Se Puede” chant. Ever the performance instructor, he started them on “and…” but dispensed with the “…5, 6, 7, 8” count off common in dance rehearsals. Neither Adrian’s nascent leadership role nor his theatre classes and experiences had called upon him to address thousands of media democracy’s top

thinkers and activists, or, for that matter, thousands of people, period. After learning he’d be a plenary speaker, he had pulled me aside seeking advice. “They’re giving me only eight minutes. What should I say?”, he pleaded as if drowning, but flashing an undisguisable look of “I already know how you’ll respond.” He had come to expect that my answer would be a question and I didn’t disappoint: “What have you noticed that most moves allies about KPCN-LP and what most moves you?” In his eyes, I could see the information flood receding and the dry land of his speech ideas emerging. “I’ll show you the text beforehand,” he volunteered. “Sure,” I replied, confident that it wouldn’t need my revision. And it didn’t. Adrian put together all the elements: audience participation (the clapping and shouting), verbal scenery (“you’re in Woodburn cruising down Highway 99E past signs that read ‘ricos tacos’…), suspense (“commercial radio canceled our president’s appearances right after the boycott…), and passion, (“people in our community are hungry to learn about the labor movement, political struggles, community and media movements; we learned how hard it is to organize people using radio when you don’t own one…so we built one”). Several times, his delivery veered toward de-railment. Each time he elegantly recovered and plunged ahead, barely containing his excitement and satisfaction. He closed with the “school without walls” image “where you can teach anyone who is listening”. The ensuing ovation for Adrian and KPCN-LP suggested we might amend that vision to “teach and fire up” those listening. The Media Reform conference put Radio Movimiento on the national activist media map, and our stature steadily grew in 2007. In September, Marlen addressed a Funding Exchange gathering of donors in San Francisco. In November, FCC Commissioners invited KPCN-LP leaders to testify in Seattle at the sixth and last public forum on media ownership consolidation. Of the twelve invited witnesses, ten were white and over 45, mostly media executives and a few policy experts. The other two were Adrian and Hozkar! Seattle-based Reclaim the Media orchestrated selection of some panelists, working with the two Commissioners who are Democrats. The fact that Reclaim the Media thought our leaders worthy of and strategic for the role speaks volumes about how Radio Movimiento had become emblematic of a broad and longstanding struggle. For many, Radio Movimiento embodied a compelling tale of an extremely marginalized community spawning an enduring and expanding movement, forcing agribusiness to engage about entrenched inequities, improbably putting a radio station on the air, and blending pragmatic and grounded work with militant, even defiant politics. It made sense that the lead image from the FCC hearing which Reclaim the Media put on their website was a fist-pumping Adrian Valladares.

Fight to save the broadcast life we’d only just begun We filed our broadcast license application on November 14, 2006. The FCC granted it on November 28th. The very next day, before we even had a chance to put the approval letter in a cheap frame and hang it at the end of the studio hallway, the FCC loosened regulations governing the re-location of fullpower radio stations from one community to another. We knew nothing of this obscure action at the time, but only weeks later, it would threaten KPCN-LP with a kind of “infanticide”: a newborn radio station suddenly unprotected and abandoned by government, allowing corporate greed to smother it to death. The FCC’s revised rule reclassified “community of license” change proposals as “minor” applications requiring minimal justification and even less scrutiny. Previously, a station seeking to move to another community had to show clearly that the move served the public interest. Formal objections filed against the proposed move had real standing, occasioned serious administrative review, and opened a path to federal court litigation. Under the new regulatory regime, objections became “informal” and the FCC could simply ignore them altogether. Compounding this injustice, FCC rules had already given full-power stations a higher rank than low-power FM radio stations. The upshot: low-power stations became virtually defenseless against a full-power station broadcasting in another area of the state on the same frequency or an immediately adjacent frequency, if the full power station coveted the low-power station’s territory. The threat to KPCN-LP escalated from theoretical to mortal in February, 2007 when Horizon Broadcasting Group, owners of KWLZ, 96.1 FM, licensed to serve sparsely populated Warm Springs in Central Oregon, petitioned to move the station to West Linn, a Portland suburb. That move would allow KWLZ to reach 1.7 million potential listeners and increase the station’s value by an estimated $20,000,000! Horizon already owned a half-dozen stations in Central Oregon, as well as a minor league baseball franchise in Boise, Idaho. Granting Horizon’s petition would silence Radio Movimiento and three other low-power stations, also authorized to broadcast on 96.3 FM, in Newberg, McMinnville and Hillsboro (each far enough away that none interfered with another). Nationally, two hundred commercial stations ultimately filed similar applications. Many, like KWLZ, hoped to move from rural communities into lucrative urban markets. We realized immediately that we needed a skilled communications lawyer to mount every possible defense and we knew just who to call: Michael Couzens of Oakland, California. Michael had already assisted us with routine licensing procedures, but we shared the more profound bond of fellow radio barnraisers.

Michael responded to our plea for help like a true padrino: he sprang into action to save Radio Movimiento’s life. We knew Michael to be tough and blunt, a take-no-prisoners legal fighter, and a bona fide community radio partisan. As the case unfolded, we appreciated why he’s so highly regarded among the nation’s leading practitioners in broadcast communications law generally and community radio, specifically. He had pioneered a strategy that won the FCC’s discretionary approval to save KYRS, Thin Air Community Radio in Spokane, a low-power FM station which had faced a similar threat. On April 13th, Michael filed our objections to Horizon’s application. His 45-page submission pointed out a slew of flaws and inequities in their case. Our consulting technical engineer, Gray Haertig, supplied an in-depth engineering study verifying the prospective signal interference. Oregon Senate President (and our state senator) Peter Courtney, Woodburn Mayor Kathy Figley, the Woodburn School Superintendent and numerous community organizations submitted letters of support attesting to the critical role KPCN-LP had rapidly achieved. Two months later, Horizon’s high-priced Washington D.C. lawyer, Henry Solomon, filed a five-page reply which boiled down to five words: “lacks procedural and substantive integrity”. In plain English, that’s “you count for nothing”. On the surface, Solomon seemed to have a point, legally speaking. What would you call something weaker than an “Informal Objection”? The reply only got Michael’s blood boiling hotter. He fired off a counter-reply and another set of informal objections. “We’re taking this all the way to the federal Circuit Court of Appeals in D.C. and we’ll insist that they throw out this entire rulemaking as a sham,” he exclaimed. I had already gathered that suing the FCC behemoth didn’t faze him. He actually expected to win. Others rallied to Radio Movimiento’s aid. Funding Exchange and Social Justice Fund made small emergency response grants. Petri worked the issue in his meetings with FCC Chairman Martin and key FCC bureaucrats. In private, Martin began to back-pedal. At first, he claimed that the community-of-license rule change wouldn’t obliterate any LPFMs. When confronted with forty examples, he pledged that no LPFMs would be disappeared. In September, the FCC’s audio division head confirmed to a group of communications lawyers that the Commission had, in effect, frozen all community-of-license change applications that threatened an LPFM. On their professional blogs, the commercial broadcasters’ lawyers pissed and moaned about this “betrayal.” Though that FCC hearing in Seattle on November 7, 2007 addressed media consolidation, Adrian didn’t let that get in the way of bringing up the sword of

“encroachment” hanging over KPCN-LP. After all, the FCC policy change which armed Horizon Broadcasting Group to chop down KPCN-LP and three other LPFM’s was simply the other edge of the same monopolistic blade. Casting aside any trepidation about offending KPCN-LP’s potential executioners, Adrian put it bluntly to the four commissioners present at the hearing: “In a town where over 50% of the community is Latino, our radio station is the only media owned by Latinos. We need more low power FM and less corporate radio standing in our way. You must not silence KPCN-LP.” The two Democratic Commissioners, Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein, smiled and nodded; Martin squirmed and looked down. The crowd—a thousand strong—stood, shouted and clapped. In the fourth row, twenty Latino high school and middle school students who accompanied Adrian and Hozkar to Seattle from Woodburn, couldn’t have felt prouder. Though they probably didn’t follow all the points made that evening by the Governor, the state Attorney General, and a host of other outspoken politicians opposing the agenda of the FCC’s Republican majority, those students witnessed a classic demonstration of “smack-down” political speeches. Just three weeks later, Petri called to share a breaking development. After twelve hours of wrangling and backroom horse-trading, the FCC announced that they would issue a rule modifying their community-of-license corporate largess. Once issued, the new rule would ease the way for thirty-four of the forty threatened LPFM stations to change frequencies. “Justice has still not been done” I told WHYY reporter Joel Rose on November 29th in Philadelphia where I happened to be visiting the Prometheans. “We’ll have to find the resources to reprint all of our materials, re-record all our station IDs, and conduct a huge community relations campaign so our audience can find us”. Joel’s story, highlighting Radio Movimiento’s predicament, aired on the December 2nd edition of National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. Once again, Radio Movimiento stood out as a national symbol.

Part X: Understanding what we’ve achieved and what it means Drawing from the well of experience, distilling wisdom, irrigating the seeds of our next endeavors This telling will have paid its dues and generated a contribution if it has met two challenges. The first is to convey enough vibrant chronicle and engaging commentary to carry this, its helping of critique. This narrative’s three-faceted whole of chronicle, commentary and critique qualitatively resembles Radio Movimiento mission’s three prongs: educate, entertain, raise consciousness. The second challenge is to actually generate—or more accurately unleash— mental and emotional energy. The thoughts and feelings that drive or impair, even paralyze our work flow from our understanding or misunderstanding of what came before. How we measure our accomplishments and our defeats—or how we fail to do so—materially affects us and our future work. Our judgments, both explicit and subconscious, shape our morale, energy, resolve, decisiveness, confidence and our sense of direction. For those who have no control, no options, and no hope of attaining either, measuring only adds insult to that injury. But in our case, thirty years of struggle has brought our Movement to an abundance of options. Making the best choices calls upon us to strive to understand—to measure—what came before. We owe that to ourselves, to those whose sacrifice and contribution have helped create those options, and to those who deserve but don’t have options. We can start the measuring with the logical question: “what were we thinking?”. In too many cases, the answer is “we’re not sure” because we don’t remember, or we didn’t clearly articulate our thinking, or just plain didn’t think. So be it. We must not seize upon the measuring process as an opportunity to indulge hyper self-criticism. PCUN has an aquifer of experience sufficiently ample to drill in many places and hit a fountainhead of valuable memory. Drawing from this aquifer, I have distilled a set of ideas which I believe have guided our navigation, singly or in combination, consciously or not. There are three ideas in that set that I believe best apply to the story of KPCN-LP:  Achieving deep, broad and lasting change requires building and reinforcing a broad base.  Amid the instability of the immigrant world, establish stability.  Resistance and agitation are essential but not sufficient; we must also prepare to govern.

Idea: Achieving deep, broad and lasting change requires building and reinforcing a broad base. César Chávez often observed that our adversaries have more power and money, but we have more time and people. We start from the obvious given that workers are vastly more numerous than employers and owners. Directly confronting the injustices perpetrated by the powerful requires that we organize a large number of workers and holding them together. Saying it plainly, are the workers with us? And even if many workers—perhaps most—agree with us, how do we contend with turn-over, fear, opportunism, and other elements which corrode our unity, undermine our will and diminishing our capacity to make and defend fundamental change? Uniquely among our Movement’s endeavors, radio contributes at all levels of our Movement’s “pyramid of power”. The pyramid is a way to visualize our Movement’s community services, community organizing, and campaigns for fundamental institutional change, in that order, bottom to top. Qualitatively, the closer to the top of the pyramid, the more intense and focused the action is and the more it directly challenges institutional power. The farther from the top, the less we challenge power and the wider base participation tends to be. The pyramid’s three strata and radio’s role in them might be summarized in these few words:  Service work’s strategic purpose is to establish trust and to demonstrate our commitment, honesty, and values in practice. Its humanitarian purpose is to reduce suffering and insecurity. Examples include providing housing or assisting families with immigration paperwork. The outcomes of service work can also remove or lower barriers to base participation in our work seeking change. Radio adds value by describing these services, imparting information, and by telling stories of their outcomes which draw in the listener and illustrate why we offer services.  Community organizing engages powerful institutions directly, but usually in an ad hoc way that tends not to target the most fundamental power dynamics. Though community organizing can involve protracted campaigns, it more often consists of short-term campaigns seeking narrow or limited changes. Like service work, community organizing seeks to appeal to and involve broad segments of the community. Like service work, community organizing tends to be reactive, shaped by broad community concerns and driven by events and opportunities. Like institutional impact initiatives described below, community organizing agitates, seeks visibility, frequently enlists support from outside the community, and confronts the powerful. Our clearest example is organizing for comprehensive immigration reform. On the radio, we spell

out community organizing issues and campaigns. And, naturally, radio mobilizes.  Institutional impact initiatives are concerted, protracted, and multi-level. Movements like ours typically embark on impact initiatives without an exact (or at times, even approximate) “road map” to our goal. Since these initiatives are far-sighted, they tend not to originate from demands that the community expressly articulates but rather from the proactive solutions we put forward to the community to solve entrenched problems, like workplace exploitation, that the community does want changed. Our “signature” institutional impact campaign seeks to establish collective bargaining on a major scale in Oregon agriculture. We believe that immigrants’ greatest single power is economic—their labor. Collective bargaining is the process that aggregates immigrants’ individual power as workers, maximizes workers’ leverage, and institutes a form of democracy among workers and power-sharing between employers and workers. Most immigrant workers have limited or no experience with collective bargaining. Radio breaks it down, especially its complex or abstract aspects like the politics of collective bargaining rights. Through Radio Movimiento, our Movement’s leadership and our movement’s base become much more intimately, continuously and interactively connected. We comment on events as they unfold, usually events that are reverberating in mainstream Spanish-language media. We interject our ideas, our information, our perspective, and our response. At best, we actually shape community thinking. At worst, we interrupt some conventional assumptions or correct inaccuracies. The act of communicating daily reinforces the very notion in our minds and in community consciousness of a base extending well beyond the PCUN membership (current or lapsed). It’s a base more cohesive than the nebulous universe of everyone our Movement has ever served or mobilized who remains in the vicinity and who hasn’t become disaffected. The continuity of radio moves engagement with our base beyond the transactional and episodic nature of service or the ad hoc quality of campaign organizing. The constancy and the volume of engagement also raises the bar on the quality of our communication. If the content, delivery, or tone is off-putting, we may lose a listener, possibly forever. Imagine the potential “opportunity costs”: the countless hours of programming s/he will never hear and the corresponding bonding and awareness that won’t ensue. The need to effectively present material and messages intended to raise political consciousness calls upon us to understand the prevailing community attitudes and connect or start there. We can ill afford to indulge our anger or to take short cuts when explaining complex issues. Our

immersion in Movement work, intensified by our passion and sense of conviction, can rev us into coming off as judgmental, didactic, self-important, or selfrighteous. This already age-old tendency can be intensified by the pressures of addressing a mass audience on a daily basis. Though admittedly easier said than done, we succeed when we prize clarity above volume and when we internalize the principle that just because some is good, more is not necessarily better. When it’s all clicking, radio is our most powerful tool yet to consistently involve our base in our work’s revolving progression from ideas, to goals, to demands, strategies, activities, and accomplishments. Idea: Amid the instability of the immigrant world, establish stability. Stability is a critical ingredient in community base-building because the immigration experience and condition is inherently about instability, about uprooting one’s self to enter an unfamiliar and often hostile environment. Our Movement has established stability on multiple levels:  Helping thousands of families stabilize their condition through immigration, housing and other longstanding service programs.  Sustaining and growing our organizations by coalescing a loyal financial base of members, donors and institutional funders. In PCUN’s first two decades (1985-2005), we raised about $5.4 million, $1.5 million of which came from members.  Acquiring properties and buildings, some very early in our organizational development. The fact, for example, that we’ve based PCUN/Willamette Valley Immigration Project operations at the same location since 1980 has boosted the chances that immigrants will find us, has yielded the best value for our facilities dollar and from donated labor, and has enhanced our profile as an enduring force.  A stability of leadership—most notably Ramon and I (along with Cipriano until his death in 1995)—has built and brought to bear a far-flung network of relationships and deep pools of experience and institutional memory. To this list, we now add the stability of daily communication. Radio Movimiento’s contributions to stability for immigrants include its availability, immediacy, and on-the-case character. Like PCUN itself, Radio Movimiento has the inside track—and for some the only track—as the “go-to” source for information, especially on key issues like immigration. Listeners’ confidence that they can turn to Radio Movimiento in a crisis places our Movement yet another step closer to the community’s very heart. The accomplishment of getting and keeping a station on the air has surely altered PCUN’s image in the community and our own internal image of PCUN

and the Movement. Consciously or not, the community compares us (and we compare ourselves) to the institutions around us, especially those that define the fundamentals of daily life (work, education, religion, businesses, government, media). Having our own radio station put us, arguably for the first time ever, into a “big league”. Though Farmworker Housing Development Corporation’s farmworker housing projects earn huge respect for our Movement, they just don’t stand out in the community in a comparable way. While the Nuevo Amanecer project is unique, it is also one of dozens of apartment complexes, just in Woodburn. Radio Movimiento, however, is one of only a half-dozen radio stations in the entire Willamette Valley. We and the community have yet to fully assimilate that Radio Movimiento symbolizes our Movement’s command of influence and resources. Operating our own station as an independent voice means that we’re no longer perceived as marginal. Because our Movement came from the margins and started with nothing but ideas—including many still regarded as “threatening” and nonconformist—we continue to see ourselves as marginal. We hold on to a self image partly because it “allows” us to excuse substandard quality, lack of discipline, side-stepping responsibility and accountability, and other flaws. Radio Movimiento pushes us to emerge from the refuge of marginality. Idea: Resistance and agitation are essential but not sufficient; we must also prepare to govern. Arriving at governing without (map)questing Making the self-image adjustment means coming more fully to terms with putting ourselves in the role of governing. Most movements for justice rightfully spring from and are animated by urges to fight back. Enduring social change movements strive to fulfill a vision for a world (of any size) bettered in ways that are fundamental and measurable in daily life. Transformative social change movements fulfill the vision and proceed to sustain it and build on it. The geography of this progression starts with resistance, sometimes as spontaneous insurrection, but more commonly plotted by a handful of angry and determined individuals. Even while agitating others to join the resistance, we begin to feel confined by resistance’s relentless negativity and weighed down by its emotional toll. Sooner or later, we either forge and pursue a positive vision of change or we burn out, lose our way, become isolated, and rationalize our lowered (or never raised) expectations as simply “fighting the good fight”.

Even as we fight our way up “Mt. Vision”, it slowly dawns on us that we haven’t prepared to live up there. We set out with some vague, Old Testamentlike assumption that we’d find something at or near the top and then bring it back down to improve “normal” life. Meanwhile, the trek itself is changing us as we try to “become the change we want to see” (to paraphrase Gandhi). We fuel our exhausting collective exertion with a sometimes confusing and even contradictory mix of aspiration and outrage. The higher we go, the more that failure seems easier than success, especially when we reach the vistas and discover that Mt. Vision is actually part of the “Vision Mountains” range. Looking back, we notice what we’ve built, impelled by varying combinations of necessity, instinct, good judgment, and serendipity. Our journey will be much longer and more complex that we first imagined and, as we plunge ahead, we need and want to keep what we have. Ready or not, that means governing. We do not arrive at governing transformed but, hopefully, transforming. Most Movement leaders take pride in their self-image as oppositional, as politically left-handed. Equitably managing success, we discover, takes both hands. We shy away from governing because it confronts us with our own ambivalence about power. Whether we individually come from privilege or powerlessness, we have united in “fighting the power”. We fear that having power will revive attitudes, behaviors, unresolved guilt or festering resentment rooted in the very power imbalance in our society that we seek to rectify. Our abiding commitment to bring about real change obligates us to overcome our allergic reaction to power. Our Movement has acquired growing influence in the legislative process. Some of our leaders, most notably Ramón, serve on boards and committees which put them in the role of gatekeeper. However, FHDC’s housing management is the most institutionalized form of governing which presently exists within our Movement. While state law sets rules for landlord-tenant relations and housing project funders impose other requirements, FHDC’s member-elected board, including resident representation, decides policy and makes rules. FHDC committees advise on applying those policies and rules. Though thankfully infrequent, cases do arise where FHDC must ask a family to move out because they cannot or will not follow FHDC rules. In keeping with FHDC’s mission, FHDC staff first makes every reasonable effort to work with that family to solve the underlying problem. If those efforts fall short and if the behavior in question is deemed sufficiently threatening or problematic,

eviction becomes unavoidable. Balancing FHDC’s mission of support for residents with FHDC’s defense of its own community standards places our Movement squarely in the realm of self-government. Governing our own radio station tests what limits we place on freedom of speech and what is an appropriate diversity of opinion. Radio Movimiento imposes no strict orthodoxy and few litmus tests, but we expect programmers to respect our values. Though the Programming Committee and the PCUN board have yet to remove a program from the air based on an irreconcilable clash or an unforgivable transgression of rules, discussions on perceived “problem” programs have brought us close to doing so. We have successfully resisted our impulses to apply what amount to subjective sensibilities about style, or to take punitive measures against a few programmers who have sometimes copped a “you need me more than I need you” attitude. A few Radio Movimiento programmers are already becoming bona fide celebrities. Though I believe we’ve made it quite clear that the radio time belongs to PCUN and not to individual programmers, swelled egos will always pose challenges to our exercise of governing authority. Who do we think “we” are? The “governing” question also encompasses a set of dynamics I call “‘we’ versus ‘they’”. Who does “we” include? Who does our audience perceive as “they”? The emergence of Radio Movimiento has further scrambled the terrain by adding more vantage points. It doesn’t help that the word “PCUN” has already long been varyingly used to connote the headquarters building, the compound where it’s situated, the staff, the board, the membership, the organization…and now the invisible radio waves on 96.3 FM. “Time to go over to PCUN,” I’ve heard PCUN staff say on the air— meaning the PCUN headquarters building, Risberg Hall. Admittedly, few listeners will stop and ask “if the radio belongs to PCUN, where exactly are you now?” Housing Radio Movimiento in a separate building invites insiders and outsiders alike to erroneously picture or refer to the radio as a separate organization. I contend that the “we-vs.-they” terminology is not simply a matter of fuzzy language. Despite the disclaimers Radio Movimiento airs before certain programs, many listeners attribute everything they hear on KPCN-LP to PCUN. I and most other PCUN leaders apply a narrower notion of the PCUN radio “we”, seeing at least some programmers who don’t work in the Movement as “they”. As in “they said that, not us.” For better and worse, though, operating Radio Movimiento as a

community radio station pushes out the parameters of “us”, even as the visualization of ownership remains an “eye-of-the-beholder” proposition. All who are involved in the station—staff, volunteer, listener, etc.—do not automatically share an identification which one would term the “universal we.” The future of governing starts now Radio Movimiento occupies a unique position in an organic and deliberate process of generational leadership shift which our Movement initiated in January 2005 to prepare and support younger leaders for current and future leadership roles. We had long recognized that Ramón and I had assumed a disproportional and unsustainable amount of leadership responsibility and authority. The roles which Ramón and I had did not accumulate in our respective hands by design but rather largely by circumstance. Nothing obliged Ramón and or me to hand them off to one person. Rather, Ramón and I prepared to deconstruct our portfolios, opening many possible paths for leadership shift. By 2005, our Movement’s staff included fifteen Latinos under the age of thirty—immigrants or the children of immigrants. They comprised a critical mass of talent for embarking on the shift. The CAPACES process of mass gatherings and monthly leadership roundtables helped prepare the ground by opening space for dialogue, reflection, peer support and critique of the individual organizations’ leadership transitions. For PCUN’s part, creating three new staff positions dedicated to the radio station offered a golden opportunity for advancing generational shift. Within an established movement like ours, leadership opportunities most often involve younger leaders taking charge of existing programs and responsibilities. No matter how important, those roles simply don’t combine the demands, test of character, thrills, and the satisfaction of starting something that is thoroughly new and historic for all of us. The PCUN Executive Committee seized the radio staffing openings to put youth in vanguard roles leading a vanguard initiative. For Adrian, Hozkar and Marlen, the three inaugural Radio Movimiento staff, carrying the weight of the entire Movement’s hopes and expectations exerted a pressure at once exhilarating, excruciating and everything in between. Our Movement’s hard-earned reputation of setting and achieving improbable goals alternately buoyed and intimidated them. Were it to happen, this failure would be harder than success. It would contradict one of my favorite Larryisms: “if you think failure is hard, try success.”

PCUN’s top leadership handed real power to the Radio Movimiento staff, starting with the task of fashioning their new roles. Still, Adrian, Hozkar and Marlen have had to find, earn, and exercise their power. Predictably, some older and more seasoned staff and volunteers acted—usually unwittingly—to circumvent the radio staff’s authority. This mixed messaging about leadership shift only added to the radio staff’s load. For the most part they soldiered through it, but the periodic second-guessing noticeably curtailed their boldness at times. The PCUN Executive Committee assigned me to serve as the radio staff’s mentor and nominal supervisor. My challenge—though not mine alone—was to give frank and constructively critical support from a place of genuine confidence. I also helped to navigate the tensions arising from having multiple power centers (the radio staff, the Program Committee, the PCUN Executive Committee and Board) within the organization. Generally, this entailed a sort of “process” patrol—asking those who brought me their impatience or skepticism to honor our collective commitment to make ample space for young leaders. Some among us still haven’t fully accepted who’s in charge. At an allprogrammers’ gathering, one of the more experienced programmers looked only at me as he pleaded to be given more radio time. By and large, though, the radio staff seemed to have the latitude to lead and to govern. The radio staff has walked the line between hand-holding novice programmers until they loosen the grip of self-consciousness and goading them to proceed on their own. It’s nothing short of intoxicating to steer and to experience Radio Movimiento’s power as a leadership development laboratory which pulls “average” people into sharpening, organizing and articulating their thoughts and into pushing their mental agility limits, all while exposed in a very public arena. Too often, the staff’s delight in ushering (or dragging) them into routines that become comfortable, proves short-lived. Programmers slide back into a laxity that prompts the staff to dog them about keeping up with their responsibilities. Amid it all, the faux-parenting, back-seat driving, and sibling-like bickering, we’ve dramatically expanded the Movement’s core of organizers. Radio Movimiento activists expand the Movement by projecting their affinity with PCUN throughout their personal networks and associations. Accountability to each other: the rubber that hits the leadership-shift road In December 2006, after the excitement of the “radio revolution day” celebration had subsided, Adrian, Hozkar, Marlen and I held a planning retreat. “You’re going to need this,” I announced at the outset, employing the earnest tone

I’m known for. I handed each of them a small paper bag. The bag commanded their full attention as I continued: “PCUN has made enemies over the years and what we’ll say on this radio station will, no doubt, anger some of them anew and will increase their ranks. To keep this station running, we have to raise about $140,000 every year. However, raising hackles and failing to raise money, do not pose the gravest dangers to Radio Movimiento’s survival. If this station fails, it will most likely be because we—the staff and programmers—can’t get along, or because we’ve let it all go to our heads.” As they alternately looked at me and at the bag they each held, the expressions on their faces told me I had hooked them. I moved to the punch line. “So when it’s all just too much and you start to hyperventilate, you’ll need the bag.” The sober mood dissolved into laughter which re-doubled when Adrian pulled out a Sharpie, wrote “Emergency Planning Kit” on his bag. He later tacked it to the wall above his desk. Nine months later, the periodic planning meeting focused on elaborating a process for the three staff to guide themselves as they prepared to lead and manage Radio Movimiento without my participation. The discussion bogged down, taking laps around a central question: accountability to each other. “When I’ve called you to account or inquired about an apparently uncompleted task, what got you to act?” I asked. “We might get fired,” Marlen replied. “My opinion may carry weight but you know I don’t have that power,” I countered. “On those occasions, did you ever actually think you were in danger of being fired?” I pressed. “No,” she conceded. “So why did you follow through after I hit you off?” I insisted. “We didn’t want to lose your respect,” she concluded. “Bingo,” I declared, the points I was making having all lined up. “So the fundamental issue is: ‘do you—or can you—respect each other sufficiently to share the role that you all have invested in me?’” They looked at each other and nodded affirmatively. “Si Se Puede!” exclaimed Adrian. From there, it all became a matter of how. Two weeks later, we met again to review the list of steps they’d itemized, based on realistic “what ifs”. They pretty much kept it to the essentials, a good sign, I told them. As the meeting wound down, Adrian handed me the Emergency Planning Kit. “Here,” he said, smiling. “we don’t need this any more, but you might.”

Epilogue: a story that isn’t ending Like Radio Movimiento’s 24/7 broadcast schedule, the radio story and its telling could go on and on. This stopping point, fittingly, is actually another beginning. As I write this, early on a Wednesday evening, I’m listening to Abel “Gordo” Valladares on Radio Movimiento. Ordinarily, at this very hour and day, I should either be hearing my own voice on 96.3 FM or be at the Radio Movimiento studios broadcasting live. This is the time slot for Dinos, Quien Eres? and it’s on, but I’m not on it. I’m mid-way through a twenty week sabbatical, taking my writing of an “anatomy” of our Movement to the next level—this one. I’m hearing Gordo’s voice at this moment instead of my own because he stepped up as guest host on Dinos in my absence. I had interviewed Gordo some weeks before my sabbatical began. His nickname, “Gordo” (fatso), aptly describes his appearance, and he has the gregarious personality stereotypically associated with obese people. Gordo came to the Movement through his uncle Adrian, the Radio Movimiento staffer. In 2004, he became active in Latinos Unidos Siempre while still at North Salem High School. Though I cast a fairly wide net, the pool of candidates to be Dinos substitute host remained empty. My co-workers had plenty to do. Some were busy with other radio shows. Some felt intimidated by my show’s format or by the idea of following me in the interviewer’s chair. In July, after I had completed a Dinos interview with Gordo, I asked him to consider that role. He readily agreed, which surprised me at first, until I recalled his flashes of self-confidence and initiative well beyond his age and customary behavior. Gordo’s superficial clowning often camouflaged his sharp intellect and perceptive eye. Gordo and I quickly agreed on a transitional program: he would interview me. He prepared by listening to recordings of previous shows and had Adrian give him a crash course in mixing board operation. By the two minute mark into our recording session, Gordo had activated the digital recording program, cued the opening theme music, pulled out his list of questions, faded down the music, and delivered a smooth introduction. Then and there, he dispelled any doubts I had about his ability to host Dinos, Quien Eres? save one: would he manage to line a guest each week?

Interviewing me, Gordo stuck mostly to a traditional progression: my upbringing, education, my command of Spanish, and how I came to work in the Mexican community. Over the fifty-minute conversation, Gordo only got to ask about ten of his questions, but they nicely blended the general and the pointed. “Do you think about retiring and what do you think is going to happen to our Movement when you do?” “Tell us about one of your most defining moments in the Movement.” “How do you feel when you see a young person with talent leave the Movement?” Each question fulfilled the program’s core purpose: eliciting a candid glimpse of what makes me, me. As the program drew to a close, Gordo slipped in some commentary: “My father says that it could be that no one will fill your shoes, but you’re not a saint. You work just like we do, scratching it out with our own hands”. Gordo had his first interview for Dinos, Quien Eres?” ready in one take and I could take five.