Volume XIX | Issue 2 | Fall 2019
DJ Grok, The Grok Show on Radio Tierra, brings in his collection of vinyl records and turntables to play a set of tunes. Photo: Radio Tierra

A volunteer-run radio station

Radio Tierra in Hood River gives a voice to Hispanic community

Behind the door to a small room in a nonprofit building in Hood River comes the mighty sound of many voices. Community radio station Radio Tierra operates from a 10x20-foot room in The Next Door building, filled with a computer monitor, miscellaneous sound equipment, a bookshelf filled with CDs, and a colorful mural spread across an entire wall.

“It’s a super modest little space, but you would not guess that if you were listening to our broadcasts,” says Anna Osborn, who works 10 hours a week as the station’s only paid employee. 

"The station is a catalyst for community-building efforts with the Latino community." — Roque Barros

Radio Tierra began in 1999 as a desire by Darlo Salas, Aaron Glasgow and Norberto Maahs to give the greater Hispanic community a voice and a way to share information. The dream was realized in January 2004, when the station began operations out of Salas’ garage. Fifteen years later, the nonprofit broadcasts 24 hours a day in Spanish and English to four counties in the Columbia Gorge area. The station went worldwide this year when it realized a years-long goal to stream programming online, making Radio Tierra accessible via computer or smartphone.  

“It’s a labor of love,” says Juan Reyes, president of the seven-member board. “Volunteers spend a lot of hours running the station, DJs are volunteers, and all the board members volunteer time.”

“The station is a catalyst for community-building efforts with the Latino community,” says Roque Barros, director of the Ford Institute for Community Building. 

About 20 DJs — all of them volunteers — provide the local programming. Programs in both Spanish and English run the gamut from live music to informational programs to English lessons. 

Area resident Humberto Calderon hosts a music-and-interview show three days a week. Columbia Riverkeeper community organizer Ubaldo Hernández produces “Conoce tu Columbia” (Know Your Columbia). It airs every other week. Live DJs offer high-energy programs like “The Grok Show.”  The weekly bilingual program, “Habla HRV,” provides information about Hood River Valley High School. Local attorneys host shows on legal issues. 

“Our volunteers want to make sure their community is well informed, well educated and well entertained, too,” Osborn says.

Reyes gave up his music show when he took on the leadership position, but his family is well represented in the DJ lineup. His two young daughters host shows: Stephanie with a storytelling segment and Alexa with English lessons. Station volunteers also go out into the community to record local events, such as the Cherry Festival Parade, for rebroadcast.

Next steps

With the launch of the streaming service, the station is planning its next big step — a yearlong community outreach plan. With the help of a grant from The Ford Family Foundation, Radio Tierra is conducting a series of focus groups in English and Spanish to engage residents in deciding how the radio station can support them around community building efforts.   

“We will identify a leadership team from those focus groups,” Osborn explains, “and from there create an action plan around community building and community ownership for Radio Tierra. We expect to be finished in June 2020.”

“We hope this listening phase will increase Radio Tierra’s role as a community connector and facilitator between the cultural differences that exist in the area,” Barros says.  

Radio Tierra can be heard on:

95.1 FM in Hood River
95.9 FM in Stevenson
96.7 FM in Carson
107.1 FM in Parkdale
107.7 FM in The Dalles
Programs also stream on the Internet at 

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