We Hear Independent Voices (WHIV): The power of community radio

Co-authors: Claire Stephens, Annabelle Meloy, and Michelle Flynn

(Vimeo on WHIV created by Annabelle Meloy)

The power of community radio is ingrained into the foundational mission of 102.3 WHIV FM— honoring independent voices and fostering a commitment to social justice through media advocacy. WHIV started as an experiment in 2009, aimed at raising awareness about HIV and other infectious diseases through music that stood in-between social issues afflicting marginalized populations. HIV, a particularly costly and stigmatized chronic health condition, was extremely prevalent in the New Orleans area and concentrated among minority populations.
Over ten years later from its inception, WHIV has garnered recognition for its efforts and ascertains over seventy show hosts seeking to advocate on a wide variety of social issues through innovative messaging. A full schedule on WHIV’s homepage illustrates the wide variety of social justice issues under the umbrella of advocacy.
“PFLG Expanding the Rainbow” with Sally Jackson (Thursdays 9 am), “Pro frequency with Amy Irvin” (Thursdays 10 am), “The Art of Kindness” with Noelani Musicaro, “Sound Theory” with DJ Eye V (Thursdays at 7 pm), and “Treeshakers” with Kim Ford (Fridays 9 am) are just some of the shows and hosts broadcast on 102.3 WHIV FM. In a sit-down interview, show hosts shared a common love for community radio and the power WHIV has to make an impact in the New Orleans community.
According to show host Judge Calvin Johnson, “All of us, in some fashion or form, are doing shows about human rights and social justice.” Across social justice issues, a commonality of “allyship” and the power of music was quickly revealed.

DJ Eye V talking about her show (Photo by: Me).

DJ Eve V, the host of “Sound Theory Radio,” plays funky independent music across all genres and all communities—celebrating the music of expression. According to DJ Eye V, “Sound Theory Radio is my personal expression of how we come together as a community of people.”
Kim Ford, host of “Treeshakers,” pioneers a show that aims to hold elected officials accountable for what they are doing in local communities— making some refer to her as the CEO of community re-callers. Furthermore, Ford exemplifies the power WHIV has to make waves in and for communities. Ford shares, “We also highlight black-owned businesses. Because, if black-owned businesses don’t survive in the City of New Orleans, none of us will. Black-owned businesses have always been at the core of getting a community to transcend.”

Show hosts at WHIV working behind the scenes (Photo by: Me).

The power of community radio and WHIV’s model is undeniably powerful. It is accessible to the community in terms of ownership, decision-making, and program output. It is one of the most effective ways to promote community development and can play a significant role at the grassroots level for rural development. The exchange of information, networking of groups, the provision of skills and training and undoubtedly are key elements of developing a community. A community radio station facilitates the promotion of awareness of community groups and facilities in the area, simultaneously providing the venue for the empowerment of these groups to use radio to promote themselves and to speak directly to the community. Unlike mainstream media, rather than merely talking about the community, the people themselves make the programs. This strengthens local culture with the recognition that this is their station; it becomes a forum for a wide diversity of local opinions and views.

WHIV logo at their studio (Photo by: Me).

On December 5th, 2021, members of WHIV’s staff gathered to do just that– celebrating the power of community radio and advocacy at the first annual Community Voice Awards.
Donations can be made to WHIV in the form of monthly subscriptions or individual dollar amounts. For more information on how to donate visit https://whivfm.org/support
“We’re not a radio station with a mission, we’re a mission with a radio station.”


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