With a computer and basic recording equipment, Enrique Catana started Radio Onda de Amor (Wave of Love) three years ago to reach the local Hispanic/Latino population through their computers, tablets and smartphones.
By Tom Peterson
In his day job, Enrique Catana is a community health advocate in the Division of FaithHealth at Wake Forest Baptist Health. And he takes it seriously enough that in 2018, the city of Winston-Salem presented him with the Martin Luther King Jr. Young Dreamers Award for his work in community inclusiveness and race relations, citing his efforts to “uplift the marginalized in our community” and his dedication to “walking alongside individuals that are experiencing a health crisis.”
Radio Onda de Amor (Wave of Love) is an online and streaming local community radio station, based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Through it, Catana reaches out to the local Hispanic/Latino population through their computers, tablets and smartphones.
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, the station’s director, and Catana have been taking turns interviewing leaders working with the Hispanic community across North Carolina about COVID-19-related topics. Rev. Francis Rivers is behind the scenes lining up guests.
Created for Service
Catana, 37, is from Mexico City and grew up in Veracruz, 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 bachelor’s degree 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 America and Europe.
Because the Hispanic community accounts for almost half of the COVID-19 cases in Forsyth County, connecting listeners to community and available health resources is even more important to Catana. The station shares food pantry locations, mask and food giveaways and helps organize community events. On a recent Saturday, the Hispanic Community Task Force of Forsyth County held its first mask and food giveaway event. A broad coalition of groups focused on helping the Hispanic community deal with COVID-19. They helped 1,000 families, giving away 600 bags with food, more than 2,000 face masks, hand sanitizers, books and education about COVID-19, including why it’s important to wear the face mask consistently and correctly.
“The response from the community was amazing,” says Catana. “We care for the community between all these organizations, and we want to encourage others to join in future events.”
The station partners with a number of groups including Wake Forest Baptist Health’ FaithHealth work, the Hispanic Community Task Force of Forsyth County, the city of Winston-Salem, the Hispanic League, Sin Fronteras Church, Forsyth Health Department and the Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity. “We share one mission,” says Catana, “bringing healing to the community.”
A version of this article first appeared at FaithHealthNC.org.