Grassroots Public Radio RGV members Edgar Lopez, Ron Rogers, Shawn Seale, Steve Taylor, and Frederico Garza.

MCALLEN, RGV – Grassroots Public Radio RGV, the nonprofit set up to build a National Public Radio Station in the Rio Grande Valley, is hosting a town hall meeting on Wednesday, June 12.

The meeting takes place at EBC at the District, starting at 5 p.m. The address of EBC at the District is 801 E. Fern Avenue, McAllen. The meeting is slated to last one and a half hours.

U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez

“We really hope for a big turnout on Wednesday because we want to show there is a lot of support for an NPR station in the Rio Grande Valley,” said Grassroots Public Radio RGV spokesman Marco Solis. “Our nonprofit is determined to build a new NPR station in the Valley. We are now the largest metropolitan area in the country without NPR and we cannot allow that to continue.”

Keynote speaker at Wednesday’s event will be Jose Borjon, chief of staff for Congressman Vicente Gonzalez. Borjon wanted to be at the town hall meeting in person but he has to take take care of congressional duties in Washington, D.C. However, via FaceTime, Borjon said he will be able to explain the work Congressman Gonzalez is doing to help bring NPR and PBS back to the Valley. Borjon said he will also stress the importance of grassroots support. 

“Congressman Gonzalez is fully committed to bringing NPR and PBS back to the Valley. However, he cannot do this on his own. We need to show we have a lot of support in the community,” Borjon told the Rio Grande Guardian.

National Public Radio was lost to the Valley in an “over the air” format on May 30, 2019. That was the day Immaculate Heart Media/Relevant Radio started running Catholic talk radio on KHID 88.1 FM and KJJF 88.9 FM. Heart Radio/Relevant Radio purchased the two stations from the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville earlier in the year for a reported $1.2 million. The Diocese had run NPR programming on the two stations for decades.

Marco Solis

Solis said the town hall meeting will also serve as a means of informing the public about Grassroots Public Radio RGV. Many of its board members will be at the meeting to explain why the nonprofit was formed and what its goals are. 

Solis said he also hopes to have veteran public radio broadcaster Ken Mills at the town hall meeting, again via FaceTime. Mills, who is based in Minneapolis, Minn., has, over the years, served as a consultant on retaining NPR in the Valley. He wrote about the demise of 88.1 FM/88.9 FM in a recent blog.

Asked why NPR should be “saved” in the RGV, Solis said: “NPR is a staple in providing up-to-the-minute news, national as well as from around the world. It has also become a part of people’s lives and daily routine. People depend on its content. It gives people a direct line to what is happening around the world in a way that is easy to digest and pleasant on the ear.”

Solis said the Valley needs NPR more than most regions because of its geography.

“In some ways we are cut off here in the Valley, being so far removed from other metropolitan regions. We need to stay up to date on what is happening. People do not trust the news from other sources, they do with NPR. NPR provides us a direct line to what is happening with global affairs. And we should also remember we get to hear great entertainment with NPR. It is extremely beneficial to lives of many people who truly understand what its programming brings.”

Solis, who has radio and TV experience from his days at UT-Pan American, added: “We do not always have time to sit down and read a full-fledged article on some current topic. NPR gives you this, the most important information that is happening around the world and what is happening here in this country. Things that directly impact our globe. You get to hear what is really happening. And you can do this in the comfort of your daily commute. I would imagine the majority of NPR listeners are listening while in their vehicle.”

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows Grassroots Public Radio RGV chairman Edgar Lopez welcoming accountant Frederico Garza to the nonprofit group.