In times of financial trouble, it pays off to observe the needs of the community. In the 1980s, the radio station KBIF based in Fresno, California did exactly this when its religious broadcasting was simply not garnering enough listenership. KBIF noticed the growing Asian community, particularly among Hmong immigrants, and began an experimental weekend program targeted at this ethnic group. It was a smart move: large numbers of Hmong immigrants tuned in since there was nothing else on the radio or on TV that they could understand or relate to.

Ratings shot up, and KBIF eventually transitioned from a religious radio station to a purely ethnic one, creating programs in Punjabi, Hindi, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Laotian as well as in the Hmong language. Soon, other radio stations in the Central Valley realized the success of ethnic programming, creating other programs for the surrounding Asian populations. The many diverse Asian ethnic groups are clearly large shareholders in the community, and addressing their concerns and interests in radio programming have proven to be a great success.

By: Pao (Carol) Lee



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