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Town Hall Seattle: Civics Series

Town Hall’s Civics series highlights everything from local policies to world politics. These events offer perspectives on a range of topics as diverse as Seattle itself—a bustling forum for activism, discovery, and thought-provoking discussion.

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Jun 8, 2022

Beginning in the 1970s Chicana and Chicano organizers turned to community radio broadcasting to educate, entertain, and uplift Mexican American listeners across the United States. In rural areas, radio emerged as the most effective medium for reaching relatively isolated communities such as migrant farmworkers. And in Washington’s Yakima Valley, where the media landscape was dominated by perspectives favorable to agribusiness, community radio for and about farmworkers became a life-sustaining tool.

Feminista Frequencies unearthed the remarkable history of one of the United States’ first full-time Spanish-language community radio stations, Radio KDNA, which began broadcasting in the Yakima Valley in 1979. Extensive interviews revealed the work of Chicana and Chicano producers, on-air announcers, station managers, technical directors, and listeners who contributed to the station’s success. Monica De La Torre weaved these oral histories together with a range of visual and audio artifacts, including radio programs, program guides, and photographs to situate KDNA within the larger network of Chicano community-based broadcasting and social movement activism. Feminista Frequencies highlights the development of a public broadcasting model that centered Chicana radio producers and documents the central role of women in developing this infrastructure in the Yakima Valley. De La Torre showed how KDNA revolutionized community radio programming, adding new depth to the history of the Chicano movement, women’s activism, and media histories.

Monica De La Torre is an Assistant Professor in the School of Transborder Studies at Arizona State University. De La Torre’s interdisciplinary research and teaching practices bridge Chicana feminist theory, Latinx feminist media studies, radio and sound studies, and women’s and gender studies. As a critical scholar and practitioner of digital media and radio, she analyzes both media content and production practices to push the analytic edge of scholarship foregrounding modalities of difference such as gender, race, class, and citizenship. She is a former community radio producer and member of the Los Angeles based radio collective Soul Rebel Radio.

Gabriel Teodros is a musician, writer and DJ from South Seattle who first made a mark with the group Abyssinian Creole and reached an international audience with his critically-acclaimed solo debut Lovework. He has released 10 projects since and set stages on fire all over the map from the U.S. to Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Ethiopia, and South Africa; often in combination with workshops on creative writing, music, history, science fiction, and media literacy. Teodros currently hosts the Early show on KEXP Seattle.

Buy the BookFeminista Frequencies: Community Building through Radio in the Yakima Valley

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