A Somali-American radio station now broadcasting in the Twin Cities hopes to help families navigate issues ranging from where to park during a snow advisory, to how to protect their children from extremist rhetoric and terrorist recruiters.
KALY is the first Somali-American station licensed by the Federal Communications Commission, according to Executive Director Mahamed Cali.
“It takes a process,” Cali said about lobbying for FCC approval, finding equipment and staffing the station with volunteers.
The station went on the air in October out of a small shop in South Minneapolis no bigger than a storage locker.
The humble beginnings could be the start of a vital conversation for a booming community.
“The number one issue is the security,” Cali said.
Dozens of young Somali-Americans from Minnesota have been recruited by terrorist organizations like ISIS.
Cali hopes to counter recruiting propaganda and violent rhetoric.
“Not only kids going to participate in Middle East or Africa, but also kids here are killing each other and that’s a big issue,” Cali said.
A small business owner in South Minneapolis was encouraged when he heard the familiar language come on the air.
“It generates a different perspective,” Mohammed Amin Kahin said.
He joined Cali for an on air discussion about helping parents find resources for their children and says it helps Somali-Americans to hear people who share similar experiences.
“You can hear it and you can picture being in their shoes,” he said.
It’s not clear how many people are listening to the lower power station.
“We can do better,” Cali said.
But there is potential to grow. Nearly 14,000 Somalian refugees have resettled in Minnesota since 2003, according to the Minnesota Department of Human Services.