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WLCH Radio Centro Volunteers keep with info & music flowing

“I don’t do it for the glory. I do it for the music,” says DJ Poli (Hipólito Maldonado), one of WLCH Radio Centro’s volunteer on-air personalities. “Presenting the music to people and crafting their listening experience is what I love to do.

The music is euphoric. The music gets people excited.” DJ Poli and the 9 other DJs who craft the daily listening experience at Radio Centro are all volunteers. WLCH Radio Centro is SACA’s public radio station that can be heard in Lancaster and York. Our volunteers give their time and talent to entertain those who tune in, sharing a diverse and eclectic range of Latin music: from Salsa to Mundofonias (world music), Reggaeton to Jassarama (Latin Jazz). Nearly all have been with the station for over 19 years.

In addition to music, WLCH-FM produces Café con Leche, an informational morning news and interview program that is considered a staple of the local listening community. Café con Leche has been interviewing local health care professionals and public officials to keep the community updated on the latest guidelines and precautions about COVID-19. The show’s host, Hector Valdez, encourages listeners to call in and ask questions of professionals and public officials about the virus. In the words of Valdez: “WLCH-FM cares for the welfare and wellbeing of our community. For that reason we have a responsibility and commitment to our radio listeners. Because of them we’re able to come in daily to inform, educate and entertain.”

Interviews during the pandemic have occurred by phone and have included important community leaders, such as: Mayor Danene Sorace; attorney Rebecca Stavish speaking on the IRS stimulus checks; and Dr. Johanan Vidal Phelan and Dr. Damaris Rau talking about options for childcare and updates on the School District of Lancaster, respectively.

For Valdez, the listeners are the show and their questions have prompted several impactful moments during programming. “One of the most impactful moments,” he begins “was nothearing from a loyal listener. Later I found out they had passed away from coronavirus.” WLCH-FM listeners are our extended family. “[It is a reminder of why I do this,] that’s why I care for our
community!”

Now more than ever, sharing helpful information in both English and Spanish for our multi-lingual community is critical. We have been running Public Service Announcements in Spanish throughout our general programming to educate our listeners about effective hand washing, practicing social distancing, and finding and wearing facial masks. WLCH-FM is also covering the disparate health and economic impact that COVID-19 is having on communities of color and immigrant communities.

When the stay at home order was placed due to COVID-19, it was important to Station Manager Claudia
Galdámez that Radio Centro remain on the air, providing the latest news and information to the Hispanic Communities in Lancaster and York: “Our goal is to make sure every listening family has the latest
information about keeping their families safe and complying with state and local guidelines about COVID 19. We are also dispelling false information and rumors about the virus that have been circulating through the community.”

WLCH programming is so much more than music. Radio Centro has become an important vehicle for bridging communities across ethnic, social, economic, cultural and language barriers. We pride ourselves on sharing the voice of the community. We are pleased to bridge the gap that exists between the Latino community and government, the human service community, the health system, schools and employers.

“Our team of dedicated volunteer DJs has been working very hard, providing 24-hour programming of news, information, and cultural entertainment during the COVID-19 emergency to the Communities of Lancaster and York,” Galdamez says about staying on air.

For our DJs, their radio shows provide a sense of consistency when their “day jobs” have dried up. Many have been furloughed, and music gigs have been canceled during the pandemic. With these uncertainties, they are unsure about the future. “Even through this virus, we need to continue to listen to music,” DJ Poli tells me when asked for his advice to listeners. “Music is life. Don’t ever shut the music off. It will keep us dancing.”

WLCH Radio Centro is vital in the fabric of communication throughout our community. Its programming blends vital information and music to provide an experience for our listeners that is lively and engaging. Listeners of WLCH often spend 9.2 hours per day with the station turned on. It is in times such as these that we realize the true value in communication and connectivity. We are proud to have Radio Centro keeping us informed and connected during these unprecedented times.

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