7.7 Billion

A radio station carrying the voices of migrants

A new web and DAB+ radio in Bellinzona, Switzerland, airs content produced by contributors who come from all over the world.

The hosts of Radio Chiara are migrants who go on air to share their culture, music, personal stories and experience. PHOTO: TI-PRESS/PABLO GIANINAZZI
Chiara Spata, project director of Radio Chiara, a Swiss radio channel with the objective to create an inclusive network for different cultures and generations, as well as a space for dialogue between locals and foreigners. PHOTO: TI-PRESS/PABLO GIANINAZZI

BELLINZONA, Switzerland (LA REGIONE) - Music from the Arab world, anecdotes in Portuguese and Thai lullabies - that's what a brand new multilingual and intercultural radio station has been broadcasting in Bellinzona, in the Swiss canton of Ticino.

Its name is Radio Chiara, and it's a web and DAB+ station (Digital Audio Broadcasting, FM radio's digital successor) that aims to create an inclusive network for different cultures and generations, as well as a space for dialogue between locals and foreigners.

Led by the Bellinzona-based cooperative Baobab, the project was officially launched last March. The families involved in the cooperative come from all over the world: Eritrea, Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Cambodia, Mexico, Thailand, Sri Lanka and the Dominican Republic.

While cultural differences tend to divide people, those behind the radio are swimming against the stream. Baobab has become a reference for people coming to Switzerland from different countries.

"This radio platform caters to local communities, especially those with a history of migration," says the project's director, Chiara Spata, who has many years of experience in the industry.

Radio Chiara's name echoes the ideas of transparency and visibility - "chiara" means clear" in Italian.

"It's a symbolic space that gives value to mixing together languages and cultures, to make ourselves aware that interacting with different peoples and cultures is not only possible - it's the greatest richness of our time," says Spata.

The first programme to air introduced a conversation between migrants who have been living in Tocino for years.

Two girls - one from Egypt and one from Italy- and two boys - one from Macedonia and one from Brazil - related their experiences to the audience.

Later, music, mostly from the Arab world, took centre stage. Samah, the Egyptian girl, selected the songs and spoke about them in Arabic.

The second programme presented an hour of Brazilian music, explained in Portuguese.

Aside from the work already being done, Radio Chiara also plans to broadcast lullabies in different languages.

Another programme is poised to air soon, also in multiple languages, explaining how to use local services and helping those who have just arrived in Switzerland.

The episodes will be made available to download as podcasts - providing useful orientation advice for those who are still figuring out how to integrate in their new "home."

This article is being published as part of 7.7 Billion, an international and collaborative initiative gathering 15 news media outlets from around the world to focus on solutions for social, economic and civic inclusion.

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