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Bilingual Station Keeps Columbia Gorge Farmworkers Up to Date

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Wednesday, February 23, 2022   

A unique radio station in the Columbia River Gorge provides information in English and Spanish, on topics ranging from the environment to immigration.

Radio Tierra is a small community station in Hood River, Oregon, serving farmworkers who mainly come from Mexico and are living on both the Oregon and Washington sides of the river.

"Its purpose is to reach out to this community and talk about environmental and social issues that happen in our communities, and for them to understand how climate change or environmental crisis affects our communities," said Ubaldo Hernandez, host of a show on the station called "Conoce Tu Columbia."

Hernandez discusses a range of issues on his show, such as the health effects of pesticides and water quality in the Columbia, and talks about how people can get involved in solutions to these issues. He also is a senior organizer for the group Columbia Riverkeeper.

Leti Moretti, a volunteer at Radio Tierra who used to host her own show, said the station provides a way for people to get involved in their community. Moretti said she would use her show to talk about topics such as COVID-19 and immigration and to dispel misinformation.

"We know that information in Spanish comes much later than it does for the English language, and then the same goes for when there's misinformation," she said. "In order to correct it, it takes, like, four times longer to correct in Spanish than you would in English, because there's not as many checkpoints."

Moretti said Radio Tierra has a special relationship with the region it serves. People called into her show simply to say they'd lost their wallet at the grocery store and needed help finding it. She said someone once called in to say a family's refrigerator had broken down.

"It took less than 60 minutes before someone called me and said, 'We've got a refrigerator in the back of our truck. Just tell us where we need to deliver it.' They had an extra one in one of the orchards that they delivered to this family," she said. "So, that kind of magic was really cool to see."

Moretti said it's not all serious conversations on Radio Tierra. When a request comes in to lighten things up, the deejays are happy to oblige with some cheerful songs.

Disclosure: Columbia Riverkeeper contributes to our fund for reporting on Endangered Species & Wildlife, Environment, Water. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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