Sioux Center has a growing Hispanic population and because of that, the community has a new Spanish language radio station on the air Sioux Ritmo.
When you dial into 101.5 FM, you’ll hear a variety of Spanish adult hits from the 80s, 90s, 2000s, and today.
“People that speak Spanish as a first language have a station to listen to and hear announcements and music and different things in their own language,” said Piet Westerbeek, the General Manager at Sioux County Radio.
In 2017, Westerbeek began to notice a demographic shift in the area.
“We had a lot more Spanish speaking people coming here. One of the things we wanted to do right away was to make sure we are encompassing all of our community,” aid Westerbeek.
By February 2020 his idea had become a reality and Sioux Ritmo was on the air. The station runs as a hybrid listener will hear a mixture of Spanish and English.
“When we talked to some of the Spanish speakers, they said please do include English because we do want to learn the language. So a lot of what you will hear is you will hear a Spanish speaker do a lot of the djing but a lot of the announcements will be in English or Spanish,” said Westerbeek.
Westerbeek turned to the community for support and found it in the Promise Community Health Center.
“They help us translate as a partner on our website as well as on the air. Then we also look to them to say hey what are you hearing are people liking what we are doing is there anything we can do differently they have a really good working relationship with the Spanish speakers in our community,” said Westerbeek
More than 50-percent of the health center’s clients are hispanic.
“We not only have translators up front answering the phones and scheduling the appointments but we also have medical assistants that are able to translate we have dental assistants that can translate as well,” said Kris Gesink the marketing & public relations coordinator at Promise Community Health Center.
Gesink recruited Michelle Van Beek, one of the interpreters at the center to help produce Spanish content for Sioux Ritmo.
“She just sends them my way I translate it and send it back to her and she is able to send it out to the community so that we are able to reach Spanish and English speakers together,” said Michell Van Beek, a Behavioral Health Coordinator and Interpreter at Promise Community Health Center
Van Beek is a first-generation American. She and her family have lived in Sioux Center for 16 years.
The new radio station provides her and her family with the sounds and feelings of her former home.
“Once we had that here I know it was something that a lot of my friends and relatives were really excited about my dad was finally able to bless the radio while listening to something in his own language hear the news in his own language updates and announcements in his own language,” said Van Beek.
Van Beek said she will continue using her heritage to help Sioux Ritmo connect with other spanish speakers in her community.
“It’s just been really great to reach the population that way and have them feel like they care about us and they created a radio station that was also serving a great population of the area,” said Van Beek.