Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Somali Radio in Minneapolis

The nation of Somalia is over 8,500 miles away from Minneapolis, MN. The cities have nearly nothing in common. Minnesota is our the 32nd state. It was admitted into the United States in May of 1858. It's about 86% Caucasian  (primarily ethnic German and Nordic) and are mostly Protestant (contrary to what Garrison Keilor may have intimated.) However the movie Fargo got the weather right. By comparison, Somalia has over 10 million citizens and about 85% of its residents are ethnic Somalis who are predominantly Sunni Muslim. It's climate is dry and arid. The nation was self-governed and wholly independent for all of recorded time until conquered by the British in 1920. More here.

But in the 1990s, a civil war in Somalia forced hundreds of thousands to flee, many to immigrate. In the last decade more than 100,00 African immigrants have come to America, and over 7% of them came to Minnesota, about 10,000 new citizens. The little burg of Willmar, with a total population of only 20,000 is now home to over 1,500 Somalis. [SOURCE]

This unexpected demographic micro-surge has led to a change in local media. In September of 2015, a Somali music and Somali language talk station signed on. 101.7 KALY-FM chose the Eid al-Adha holiday for it's debut. The name translates to "Festival of the Sacrifice." It honors the willingness of Abraham (Ibrahim) to sacrifice his son to god (Allah), and is now an occasion to sacrifice a sheep or a goat. [SOURCE] Don't judge, goats are very tasty.

Through the Midtown Phillips Neighborhood Association and the Somali American Community KALY received $26,000 from the city of Minneapolis’ Community Innovation Fund. Director Mahamed Cali has also said the station will also feature language programs to help Somali-speakers learn English. In return, the city of Minneapolis has welcomed them. ABC Channel 5 News paid the station an on-air visit shortly after it's sign on. The Minnesota Post, and the Star Tribune both gave the station nice write ups.

KALY has some roots in heritage community station KFAI. A program "Somali Public Radio" has been on air since November of 2011; hosted by Salah Donyale and Mohamoud Treek, known on air as Wiilwaal. A second Somali program, "Somalida Maanta", debuted on KFAI in January of 2012, hosted by Salah Barre. The shows air back to back on Sunday nights.