Canadian radio station expanding to Dearborn

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — By Jan. 2, pockets of cultural communities from Detroit to Bloomfield may hear their own languages over the air from a new radio station slated to open here soon.

CINA-FM 102.3, which first went on the air Sept. 6 in Windsor, Ontario, is looking to set up shop in the Warren Avenue area of Dearborn, CINA President Neeti Ray said.

Ray said he wants to bring cultural entertainment to areas with the highest demand.

“My dream has been to provide radio service to under-served or unserved ethnic communities of Windsor and Detroit,” Ray said. “It provides a unique programming in their respective native tongues.”

Ray said the radio station can be heard over the airways now in parts of metropolitan Detroit, from Ontario, but as a test broadcast, which lets music play on the station for a short time until the Federal Communications Commission and the Canadian Radio-Television and Communications Commission approves the station to officially broadcast.

Ray said he hopes to go on air on Jan. 2.

The FCC and CRTC will check the technical side of the radio station to make sure CINA’s airwaves don’t conflict with other radio airwaves, among other possible technical conflicts.

Ray, who started the radio station and who has been in the radio business for 32 years, said he chose to come to Dearborn because of its large Arab American community.

Ray said the radio station will have programs and music in different languages, which include but are not limited to Arabic, Indian (Hindi and Urdu), Italian, Chinese, Spanish, Romanian, German, Ukrainian, Hungarian, Polish, Serbian, and Tagalog.

Smaller radio station time slots will also be broadcast in English, for younger listeners, Ray said.

The programming will consist of local news, traffic and events and international news from the listeners’ home countries, Ray said.

Ray said the programming will be broken up into different segments and the Arab American radio segment will have the most time slots in the morning, from 6 to 10 a.m, and the afternoon, from 3 to 7 p.m.

He said his radio station staff is still finalizing the schedule for the other languages, which will play on air seven days a week.

Ray said he selected the languages based on the needs and wants of local communities, as well as the largest cultural demographics in the area.

“I consulted the communities leaders,” Ray said. “I’ve seen what their needs are and how motivated the communities are to have programming in their own languages. These communities came forward the most and expressed their needs.”

On Dec. 4, Ray sat down with Arab Community Center for Economic & Social Services Director of Communications Kathryn Casa and a few others to discuss potential local on-air talent for the station.

Casa said ACCESS has a lot of programs and extensive contacts between Arab American and other communities, information which would help the radio station staff get to know the community better.

“This was a get-acquainted session to help them get a handle on the community and potential listeners and talent,” Casa said of the radio station staff. “They seemed very interested and open to ideas and to learning more about the community. This is an ongoing conversation.”

Ray said ACCESS gave a lot of insight into the Arabic language communities of metropolitan Detroit and their needs.

Ray said his radio station staff is in the recruiting and interviewing stages of finding local talent in metropolitan Detroit. Ray said he prefers to hire someone who speaks one of the languages the radio station plays.

“Right now we need talent,” he said, “so if we can have people apply by Christmastime that would be very helpful, although that doesn’t mean we won’t take applications after that.”

Ray said he is looking to hire people in the radio station’s voice and audio production department who could cover the traffic reports and write scripts for commercials.

Although he has not hired anyone yet, he is glad local communities are spreading the word about his radio station and its need for local talent. Currently, the radio station has a manager, production manager and production assistant, all of whom speak Arabic.

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(Sherri Kolade can be reached at