Applicant Profile- Access Fort Wayne

In the Southeast Asian country of Burma, government censorship makes accurate news hard to find. For many citizens, the only resource for democratic information are radio broadcasts from foreign news organizations. While the Burmese population in Fort Wayne, Indiana does not face these same government restrictions, their access to information remains limited, as local radio does not offer Burmese programming and community access television requires a cable subscription. In order to serve this community, the highest concentration of Burmese refugees in the country, Access Fort Wayne is gathering local support to start a low-power radio station.

As a department of the Allen County Public Library, Access Fort Wayne produces public access and local government television. However, for over a decade assistant manager Erik Mollberg has been reaching out to community groups to gauge their interest in starting a radio station. “The more I talked with these groups, the more excited people became,” Mollberg said.“There's no local programming in the area, and traditional media doesn't cover a lot of things that are going on here.”

Along with amending for the lack of Burmese programming on the local airwaves, the Access Fort Wayne station also plans to set aside time for much needed local news and public affairs discussions, as well as local and alternative music. Mollberg hopes that local affairs programming will not only inspire more activity within listeners' own neighborhoods, but might also allow for a greater appreciation for the projects and cultures of other communities, particularly among the black, latino, and Burmese populations.

“A lot of tension between the different communities of Fort Wayne comes from cultural misunderstanding. Given the opportunity to have dialogue where everyone could participate, I think we could rally the community and raise more awareness,” Mollberg said.

For example, proposed Burmese programming would not only include Burmese music and updates on the volatile political situation in Burma, but also information regarding local social services for the Burmese population designed to facilitate their assimilation into the greater Fort Wayne community, including directions on where to go for state-sponsored English lessons. Though these proposed programs remain in the development stage while Access Fort Wayne awaits the low-power radio application window, the organization has been working diligently to gather the resources required to run a station. As an access facility located within a large public library, they have already cleared out space for a studio and have also been able to build a large contingent of dedicated volunteers.
While the group may still have a lot of work ahead, they remain optimistic that they will eventually get on the air.

“We're not discouraged by the size of the task,” Mollberg said.

 Prometheus is excited to support Access Fort Wayne to get on the air and amplify their voices.