Refugee and immigrant radio show finishes 1st year with Atlantic Journalism Award

Radio RIAC started as a dream.

It was the dream of Jose Rivera, co-founder of the Refugee and Immigration Advisory Council, to have a radio station dedicated to the growing voices of the new Newfoundlanders.

It's only been a year since the first show went to air, but the small staff at Radio RIAC already has all the affirmation they need to move forward, grow its presence on the airwaves and reach more people.

"That is the goal and the big dream I have in mind, and with our team now, it is possible to do it," said producer Zay Nova.

Nova, from Indonesia, works on the show alongside host Darrell Power and co-ordinator Nabila Qureshi.

Zay Nova/Facebook

The small staff managed to put together 52 weekly broadcasts in the last 12 months, and celebrated the achievement with a one-year anniversary show at The Rooms in St. John's on Saturday.

They were celebrating more than just the anniversary, however. They were also riding the high of a silver finish at the Atlantic Journalism Awards for best arts and entertainment reporting of any medium.

The award was for a pair of shows that explored the music of Lebanon and Ecuador through local guests.

Growing diversity creates space for show

Power, a founding member of Great Big Sea and a local radio personality, said the time was right when he was approached to do the show.

"Newfoundland is becoming way more culturally diverse so I think this gives us an opportunity to introduce Newfoundlanders to the rest of the world," he said.

Radio RIAC's weekly episodes are produced entirely through volunteer work with no budget and broadcast on CHMR in St. John's.

On top of arts and entertainment reporting, the show has other news content created by and tailored for the immigrant and refugee population.

We're all humans, regardless of race, regardless of colour, regardless of ethnicity. - Darrell Power

Power said there's plenty of appeal for everybody, with beautiful music from around the world and moving stories from local people. Another focus is to introduce newcomers to Newfoundland and Labrador musicians and customs.

One of his favourite stories came from a new Canadian who left his home country after coming out as gay and being threatened with death. He emptied his bank account and fled to Canada.

"For me, that's peak Radio RIAC," Power said. "Because we're all humans, regardless of race, regardless of colour, regardless of ethnicity, gender, age. I really think the more people from this province listen to conversations like this, they will begin to see the humanity in everybody who comes here — whether to go to school, hopefully settle and live and raise babies and become a part of what I like to call a new Newfoundland."

Nova wants to see the show turn into more shows, each tailored toward new Canadians from different parts of the world — their news, their music, their stories.

"My big dream for the radio show is we want to create not only two hours from now, but 24 hours from now," he said.

Radio RIAC broadcasts on Thursdays from 8-9 p.m., and again on Saturdays at 7-8 p.m. The shows are also podcasted on their website.

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