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KCET / Artbound Feature: Radio Sombra

The brainchild/labor of love of community organizer Marco Amador, Radio Sombra's empowers community members to produce their own radio content.

Radio Sombra began as an AM station in El Sereno several years ago, experimented with FM, but has found the greatest success as an internet radio station. Up until last fall, Radio Sombra broadcast out of Boyle Height's Centro de Comunicación Comunitaria but since last October, they've moved down a few blocks down E. 1st St. to Espacio 1839. This hybrid storefront quintuples as a book/clothing/record store, art gallery, and the gleaming new broadcast booth for Radio Sombra and its growing crew of DJs.

Both Espacio 1839 and Radio Sombra link back to a collective of DJs, activists and organizers, brought together by Marco Amador. Though an L.A. native, Amador spent several years in the Bay Area during the 1990s, during a particularly fertile time for college, community and pirate radio stations. It was there, coupled with time also spent in Mexico, that Amador began to build the idea around Radio Sombra. Unlike more bureaucratically-controlled community stations, Amador has little interest in micromanaging the content of the shows on the station. "we're really trying to push a model of autonomy here because we don't want to control the programs," Amador says. People interested in developing shows get training from Amador and others but after that, he says, "they're kind of on their own."

Espacio 1839 evolved out of a desire to develop a retail model for community reinvestment -- a vital step to stemming gentrification forces that often move capital out of neighborhoods. The store's different wares reflect the interests of Espacio's core collective of managers, all of whom are also foundational DJs on Radio Sombra: Amador, Lady Imix, Gomez Comes Alive, and Nico Avina. Together, they've become the collective force behind the station and store's growth...but they're recruiting others to join with them.

Watch it on KCET | ARTBOUND

CREDIT: Editor