Northwest Public Radio (NWPR) plans to establish a bilingual team to report on local news in the Yakima Valley, WA by early next year. The initial investment in the project comes from a $100,000 grant from the Knight Foundation, which was matched by the Yakima Valley Community Foundation, the organizations announced 10/17. The news team will be a partnership between NWPR’s multi-station regional network and the Spanish-language community radio station KDNA, based in Granger, WA.
“What’s neat is not only will we be reporting for the residents of the Yakima Valley, but with NWPR’s reach, listeners and decision makers all over the state will have a better understanding of topics and issues that not only affect local residents, but also have impacts across the state,” Kerry Swanson, NWPR station manager at Washington State University told The Yakima Herald.
Linda Moore, president of the Yakima Valley Community Foundation, said that her organization supported the project because she believes local news reporting that encompasses a diversity of voices is key to building a strong community.
“NWPR and KDNA are two different voices in two entirely different languages, but they cover common concerns,” said Moore. “To be doing good community reporting, you have to have different perspectives in the dialogue.”
NWPR and KDNA both plan to hire one bilingual reporter, and they’ll be able to translate and share stories. The NWPR reporter will be based at Yakima Valley Technical Institute and will also work with students there.
KDNA general manager Juan Ozuna said the partnership means more local news coverage and in-depth stories.
“This is just a great opportunity for us,” Ozuna told the paper. “It’s awesome for our community to be able to put more local news on the air.”
The partnership plans to focus on both digital content as well as radio stories, Moore said. They expect to launch early next year, after hiring the new reporters and designing a mobile-ready app for the shared content.
The grant is part of a national Knight Foundation initiative to support and strengthen local journalism. The Yakima Valley grant was one of the largest of the 10 given this year. The foundation also offers training and resources to local partners.
The combined $200,000 acts like start-up capital, Moore said, but for the long term, she expects the Yakima reporting team will be supported by the community through listener donations and advertising.
RBR-TVBR observation: In many markets where there’s a heavy bilingual population, you’ll hear hosts on both Spanish-language radio and general market stations using both languages—often in one sentence. It’s inevitable that “Spanglish” will evolve in bilingual markets—the trick is to qualify it, quantify it and monetize it with advertisers and media agencies. In these markets, an English-speaking person from birth may well be employed by a dominant Spanish-speaking employer with dominant Spanish-speaking co-workers. “Spanglish” is the language that works between English and Spanish-speaking employees to get the job done—and between companies doing business, from deliveries to service orders, etc. Spanglish radio stations can serve markets well and reach broader, perhaps underserved, audiences. We’re already starting to see some monetization efforts on the network side from AURN and Entravision with the VURN Network, targeting both Urban and Latino audiences.