“40 Stories” Spotlight: Radio Bilingüe

To celebrate our 40th Anniversary, we asked forty of our amazing grantees, past and present, to tell the story of their work and their relationship with the California Arts Council. Throughout this anniversary year, we’ll be sharing excerpts from our special publication 40 Stories, 40 Years here on the blog. You can view the complete collection at this link.


Radio Bilingüe, Fresno

By Hugo Morales, Co-Founder and Executive Director

Year of First CAC Grant: Early 1980s

Changing the Future

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Radio Bilingüe Original Artwork by Malaquias Montoya 1976

In the early 1980s, the CAC changed the future of Radio Bilingüe (for the first but not last time) by awarding a grant for training of young Latinas and Latinos living in the San Joaquin Valley in the art of radio soon after we had launched our first Latino-controlled
bilingual community radio station, KSJV in Fresno. The grant trained our small young staff of volunteers and scores of unpaid community volunteers who developed all of the first beautiful music, cultural and information programming that got Radio Bilingüe on its way to becoming what it is today – the leading content service and producer of Spanish and Latino-oriented programming in public broadcasting in the United States.

Independent Evaluation Confirms Our Impact

In 1987 the CAC once again literally transformed Radio Bilingüe as a sustainable non-commercial enterprise by funding an independent evaluation through a multicultural grant program. The study showed that the majority of Latinos sampled from phone books in the San Joaquin Valley had listened to Radio Bilingüe in the past 24 hours! The results led us to adopt a lifelong organizational culture of independent evaluation and internal learning, in order to continually have impact and improve our services to our audience. This has allowed us to tell our story and make our case to hundreds of foundations that have supported our work in the arts and other areas critical to Latinos: health access, educational access, immigration policy and more.

Celebrating Tradition, Welcoming Innovation

Radio Bilingüe is now considered one of the most significant promoters of musical and cultural traditions and innovations of diverse Latino and indigenous communities—an on-air curator for under-reported and under-covered arts and artists. Our daily radio
programming continues to celebrate and promote traditional music and culture, in Spanish, English and indigenous languages. This is totally absent from commercial Spanish language media.

CAC’s recent Arts on the Air program made possible a beautiful series in 2014-15: “Raíces: Los Maestros,” highlighting innovative California -based Latino artists who are helping to ensure that new generations know and experience art and what it can offer for their lives
and communities. This year, CAC’s Arts on the Air grant is supporting our series centered around folk festivals of distinct indigenous migrant groups burgeoning throughout our state.


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HUGO MORALES is a Mixtec Indian from Oaxaca, Mexico who at the age of nine immigrated to California with his family. He grew up picking grapes and attending public school in Sonoma County, CA, then went on to graduate from Harvard College and Harvard Law School. In 1976 he was the moving force of a group of Latino farmworkers, artists, activists and teachers that founded Radio Bilingüe in California’s San Joaquin Valley, and he has led the organization ever since to its current position as a major national public media service.

View the complete 40 Stories, 40 Years collection at this link.

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