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Hmong radio show debuts, shares heritage on WRFW

October 1, 2009

Amid the many new programs that debuted on WRFW 88.7 on Sept. 14 was an hour-long program done with nearly no English spoken. The show, hosted by UW-River Falls students Diana Vang and Kong Meng Vang, will air every Monday from 5 to 6 p.m., according to the station’s Web site.

The students are Hmong- American, and their radio show reflects their heritage.

“It’s a news block so we’re trying to inform people about the culture,” Diana said. She said Hmong is the primary language used whenever the guests or situations allow.

“It’s gonna be a variety of stuff,” she said. “I’m going to interview a Shaaman, and that will be done in Hmong.”

When non-Hmong speaking guests are a part of the show, the primary language will revert back to English.

The show’s primary purpose is to connect to the local Hmong community. Though both she and Kong were born in America, Diana said this is her way to keep Hmong traditions alive.

“I’m hoping with me getting a hold of the people I’m interviewing, [the audience] will tune in to hear the language,” she said. Listeners fluent in the Hmong language can also hear some variations in speaking style.

“I’m White Hmong and [Kong] is Green Hmong because we speak different dialects,” Diana said.

WRFW News Director Jaime Babb said the hosts have found ways around the language barrier for their non-Hmong speaking audience.

“The last 10 minutes of the show they recap the gist of the show in English for those of use who don’t know Hmong,” she said.

Babb said she also thinks the music on the program will be well received.

“The music they play is very cool and unique,” she said. “It’s not something you need to be Hmong to appreciate.”

WRFW Program Director Adam Lee and Babb wanted a way to increase cultural diversity on the station, so they came to Diana with the basic idea for the show, Babb said.

Though Diana was excited about the proposal, she had reservations about doing the show.

“I also help Jaime [Babb] with her show on Thursdays,” she said, “I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do all the work.”

Now that the show is off the ground, Diana and Kong are going to try to get other Hmong students involved.

“We’re trying to get students from campus to come on and share their views,” Diana said.

Jon Lyksett, the station’s music director, said he likes the distinct idea for the show.

“I think its really great that we know have more of a multicultural aspect [at WRFW],” he said.

Journalism Professor and department Chair Sandy Ellis said the show reflects trends in the student body at UWRF.

“In recent years we’ve seen more minority and international students on campus,” she said. “[The show] should be well received.”

Ellis has had the opportunity to observe Diana and her work in journalism.

“As a student in journalism she’s very enthusiastic,” Ellis said. “She’s really passionate about it.”