How a Phoenix low-power community radio station provides "an institution for the institution-less"

KDIF 102.9 FM, a low-power FM station in South Phoenix has created a sense of belonging, and that’s something people in South Phoenix need.

KDIF’s focus is not simply local but hyperlocal. As a low-power FM station, KDIF has a broadcast radius of about three miles. Its FCC license requires that it air a certain amount of locally produced content each day. “Locally produced” means the content must be made within 10 miles of the station. KDIF is allowed to use 102.9 as a broadcast frequency, but the low-power license does not protect KDIF from interference from a commercial radio station with the same frequency.

KDIF is another example of how community radio fills a need that advancing commercial interests and digital audio will not replace completely. Community radio is a space where people who lack power, access or agency can speak to people in power, and community radio is the place for a community to talk with itself. “Hearing people like us on the radio when you walk into a restaurant or an auto shop,” says the station’s executive director, Franco Hernandez, “makes you feel like South Phoenix is yours, too.” Radio’s power is to create a feeling of belonging, and community radio like KDIF supports belonging where other stations falter.

Thanks to Ian Derk for this article.