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I got my start in public media almost 15 years ago thanks to Radio Arte.   In January of 1998, I could have never imagined the adventure I was about to embark upon when I was provided with what many young people don’t get in life-opportunities.  I know many who share my experience and who I feel proud to know have not only been shaped by Radio Arte but who have in turn shaped the world around them.

This Sunday, Radio Arte is scheduled to have daylong celebratory programming to mark the end of an era for WRTE 90.5 FM. I will be among the many who will listen nostalgically as many Radio Arte alumni jump on the mic to say goodbye. Sunday 12/30/12 marked the end of an era.  I loved listening to familiar voices, many of which will still be heard via  However, I am also going to celebrate that WRTE-FM is here to stay. 

WRTE-FM will become the new home to Vocalo, the next generation public media service that I have been managing since March, 2010.   Vocalo currently broadcasts on and 89.5 FM and is sister station to WBEZ 91.5 FM.

While I know first-hand that Vocalo cannot replace Radio Arte’s unique, bilingual, youth-driven programming, I can say with the utmost confidence that we’ve created programming that is reflective of and for undeserved communities in the region. The core values that Vocalo holds are rooted in my experiences at Radio Arte and my work in community media.  I’m proud of the body work that #teamvocalo has developed thus far and I look forward to Vocalo becoming several communities stronger as we start broadcasting on WRTE’s signal this New Year’s Eve.  More details on the changes here.

Chicago Public Media is steadfast in its commitment to serving younger, culturally diverse audiences and I know that with community support we can create the type of change that we which to see in public media at-large. Change can be daunting, and frankly seem impossible at times, but I’ve always found inspiration in the words that I first read on a postcard right before a meeting with former FCC chairman William Kennard. In 2000, I was the youth representative in a meeting that would set the stage for a power increase for WRTE-FM (from 8 to 73 watts). In an unplanned gesture I read my found inspiration aloud to Chairman Kennard:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”― Margaret Meade

I can’t say that this was the tipping point for our approved increase but we did receive our power increase shortly after.  Or as I called it then, an empowerment increase, because undoubtedly, Radio Arte was emboldened and defined by youth and adults committed to changing the world.  This is the spirit that keeps me motivated about extending the reach of public media.  

My deepest regards go to the National Museum of Mexican Art for creating a space that would cultivate an entire generation of leaders and critical thinkers. We look forward to partnering with them on their upcoming endeavors.   It is with great humility that Vocalo embarks on continuing this legacy for WRTE-FM.

Silvia Rivera

Managing Director, Vocalo 

Radio Arte Alumni

Co-Founder of the Latino Public Radio Consortium

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