Categorized | IN OUR COMMUNITY

KALY 101.7 reaches underserved East African population

Posted on 23 January 2018 by calvin

South Minneapolis radio station focuses on bridging the gap between immigrants and their community

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN
KALY 101.7-FM is more than a radio station, according to Executive Director Mahamed Cali. It provides the East African community with a voice, and it’s saving lives.

“The work we do makes a difference,” stated Cali.

The two-year-old radio station located at 301 E. Lake St. does that by providing important information to the underserved East African community, including updates on severe weather, the benefits of vaccines, and security tips.

A program of the Somali American Community (SAC), KALY-FM is the only radio station in the United States that educates and informs Somali and East African immigrants 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Photo left: The two-year-old radio station located at 301 E. Lake St. is making a difference every day by providing important information to the underserved East African community, according to KALY 101.7-FM Executive Director Mahamed Cali. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

The Somalis and East Africans immigrants in the Twin Cities face many challenges, according to Cali. Parents often don’t know how the school system works, and their kids are failing their classes. They may not know how to get along well with their landlords. They are susceptible to various scams. KALY Radio brings in experts such as teachers, doctors, elected officials, and lawyers to address questions immigrants have about life in Minnesota.

Before launching the station, the Somali American Community surveyed 3,000 people and asked what they wanted out of a radio station. The number one response was that listeners wanted to learn about education and schools, pointed out Cali. Next were employment and immigration issues. Third was enjoyable music.

Factoring those results in, KALY structured its programming to feature educational and motivational speakers in the morning while parents and kids are on their way to school and work. Applicable topics include how school is necessary for success in life, and why jobs are important.

In the afternoon, the station airs music and news.

In January, staff from the Governor’s office talked about the significance of Martin Luther King Jr., and provided information on activities honoring his life, to bridge the knowledge gap of listeners. Another program focused on the upcoming Super Bowl in Minneapolis and provided information on safety, security and transportation changes.

Other segments focus on bridging the gap between Minneapolis Somali-Americans and their homeland by airing news updates about their country.

Many listeners have a favorite show they won’t miss, pointed out Cali. Some people are sure to catch Kowsar Abdulai from 3-5pm on weekdays to hear about family and financial issues. Others make time from 6-10pm for Osman Aweys who discusses what is new each week. Amira Adawe’s show on beauty each Saturday from 2-3pm is another favorite. Somali culture is the focus of a show that airs every Tuesday.

The station has partnered with several local neighborhood groups, including Midtown, East Phillips, Ventura, Central, and Whittier, and hopes to expand their reach. They’ve discovered that by broadcasting community announcements and events, attendance has increased and the East African community has begun participating more in their neighborhoods, observed Cali.

Local radio
KALY 101.7 is one of the stations made possible by the Local Community Radio Act, which President Barack Obama signed in 2011, providing the first chance in more than a decade for a low-power FM radio station license. The Philadelphia-based Prometheus Radio Project had lobbied for years for the bill in Washington, D.C., and actively worked to recruit independent community broadcasters across the nation. The Prometheus Radio Project helped build the KALY studio, install the broadcast equipment, and train volunteers.

KALY 101.7-FM aired its first broadcast on the Eid al-Adha holiday on Sept. 24, 2015.
Thanks to a grant from the Waite Foundation, six new people are currently being trained in broadcasting to join the crew at KALY.

Expansion plans
KALY staff members recognize that not everyone has a radio. For those without, KALY gives away small radios. People can also listen to 101.7 FM by going online to the website, listening through the app available on either Android or Google devices, or by calling the station at 717-623-4287. Through all these various options, KALY can reach 9 out of 10 East Africans in the Minneapolis area. Plus, they’ve pulled in listeners from Alaska, Seattle, Virginia, and Washington.

KALY 101.7 hopes to expand to a new location at the Midtown Global Market with a taller and larger antennae to reach farther. Right now the station has a 7-10 mile radius with an estimated reach of 200,000 people, and Cali hopes to bump that up to 15-20 miles.

He’d also like to see the station’s operating budget increase so that they can pay full-time workers.
The station is asking people for one-time and monthly donations to help support its work and seeking additional partners in the community. Checks can be mailed to Somali American Radio, 2323 11th Ave., Minneapolis MN 55404.

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