Giving air time to the voiceless



By Sarah Brookbank

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Lexington Community Radio is changing the airwaves by putting regular Lexingtonians on the mic.

The station went live this fall after being granted two channel permits by the FCC in an effort to help local areas diversify the airwaves. Alexis Meza, the administrative manager for the stations, said one is currently up and running and the other will go live in a few months. Meza said both stations are geared toward underserved communities: the Latino, African-American and LGBTQ+ communities.

“The community is going to make the content,” Meza said. “It’s a way for people to be involved through hosting podcasts, doing press releases and getting involved with events. It’s about what is important in the community.”

The station on air focuses on the Latino community and is currently in English and Spanish, but workers are pushing for the station to broadcast completely in Spanish. Meza said they are working on getting community members their own programs as well.

“There has been a lot of hard work getting normal people on the airwaves,” Meza said. “It is incredible. It’s a good opportunity to get something happening in Lexington.”

The stations are the brainchild of former Lexington councilwoman Debra Hensley. Kakie Urch, director of programming at LCR and an associate professor in the College of Journalism and Telecommunications, said Hensley pushed for these radio stations and has worked long and hard to improve diverse communities in Lexington.

LCR went on air after the station applied for two low power FM stations through the FCC. Urch said there are 1800 stations nationwide geared to under-represented groups.

“Community groups that previously have not had a voice, were invited … to apply for these licenses,” Urch said. “Hensley has always been committed to diversity. She has really put her back and personal money and time and all of her contacts into this endeavor.”

LCR has a team of five UK interns and many more volunteers. Urch said they are constantly looking for volunteers to develop content and have been working on outreach through public meetings across town.

“We’re interested in hearing from people who want to do community oriented shows … talk shows, shows that welcome interviews, reports,” Urch said.

Urch also said podcasts are something the radio can broadcast for those who aren’t ready to take the leap to live radio. There are also opportunities for news and music DJs and Urch said the radio is putting together a local news team.

The National Association of Black Journalists at UK, the Department of Hispanic Studies and students from the integrated strategic communication and journalism programs are all involved with LCR.

“We want students to come down and be a part of our local news team,” Urch said. “We’re trying to develop sports coverage. We’re also trying to expand use of the radio as a performance space. These things are all possible on a community radio station.”