By Tom Peterson
Radio Onda de Amor (Wave of Love) is an online and streaming local community radio station, based in Winston-Salem. Through it, Enrique Catana uses the internet and smart technology to reach the local Hispanic/Latino population through their computers, tablets, and smart phones. His day job is a Community Health Advocate in the FaithHealth division of WFMC. But he continues his passion for connecting faith and everyday life through the radio station. And in 2018 he received a statewide Latino Diamante Award.
Roughly half of the air time is contemporary Christian music (in both Spanish and English). The other half is programming that covers topics such as community resources, education, culture, news, immigration, financial challenges, mental health, and general well-being. The tone is positive and meaningful. Lately, Pastor Daniel Sostaita and Enrique Catana have taken turns interviewing leaders working with the Hispanic community across North Carolina about COVID-19-related topics:
- Ivan Parra, executive director for the NC Congress of Latino Organizations
- Giselle Melendez, a physician and professor at Wake Forest Medical School, on coronavirus research
- Tony Lo Giudece, assistant director at the Forsythe County Health Department, on the upcoming flu season, diabetes, and COVID-19 issues
- Daniele Miranda, community resources coordinator at the Hispanic League
“We’re developing more talk shows,” says Catana. He sees them as a resource to help see light ahead in the middle of these challenges. “At the moment we don’t have a vaccine, but we can release anxiety, the stress and uncertainty during these tough days.”
Radio Onda de Amor created for service
Catana, 37, grew up in Mexico City but has been in North Carolina for 18 years, attending school in Winston-Salem. “I’m a beneficiary of the DACA program, a Dreamer since 2013.” He has a bachelors in theology from Selah University in Miami, Florida.
Catana says he always knew that he wanted to serve his community. He started working in radio bringing the drinks to the DJs in Winston-Salem as a volunteer at a local station. Then he learned how to be a DJ and worked for Christian and secular stations in North Carolina. “I decided to start my own station because of my own vision about what I wanted to do for the community,” he says. “I started saving money for equipment while working at other jobs.”
With a decade of radio experience, Catana started Radio Onda de Amor three years ago using his computer and some basic recording equipment. The content has grown and so has the audience — to several thousand listeners a month, mostly from the Piedmont Triad and across the state but also as far away as South and Central America and Europe.
Connecting listeners to available resources is even more important to Catana during the pandemic. The station shares food pantry locations, mask- and food-giveaways, and helps organize community events.
Catana is also a member of The Hispanic Task Force a multi-organizational grass-roots committee comprised of several organizations located in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County area. Since its inception, the task has educated and helped more than 3,000 families at 14 events by providing masks, hand sanitizer, books for children, bags of food and more. This year were winners of the Latino Diamante Award for making significant contributions to the Latino/Hispanic community of North Carolina.
The radio station partners with a number of groups, including Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s FaithHealth work, the Hispanic Community Task Force of Forsyth County, the city of Winston-Salem, the Hispanic League, and the Maya Angelou Center. “We share one mission,” says Catana, “bringing healing to the community.”