Oct. 6, 2021
Wearing a cloth mask with a woven Guatemalan textile design, Radio Poder 1380 AM host Oscar Contreras sits in the middle of the radio station’s large central room with other masked visitors to the first lunch potluck mixer since COVID-19 took hold in Richmond.
As host of the event at WBTK’s Henrico County office, Contreras leads the group in introductions of their programs, businesses and initiatives. Attendees include representatives from the Children’s Museum of Richmond, Chesterfield Food Bank, Richmond Metropolitan Habitat for Humanity, Dominion Energy and Latinos in Virginia Empowerment Center.
“I really like doing this stuff,” said Contreras. “Connecting people is the ultimate. If I hear of someone who wants or needs something and someone else who has that thing, I like putting people together to see how they can work together. I like that very much.”
Radio Poder means Power Radio and Contreras conveys information in a mix of English and Spanish to empower his listeners. On this particular day, he has just completed a 6 a.m. to noon shift full of those connections, with a morning drive show that includes weather and news announcements along with devotional talks, recorded sermons, music, saludazos (or shoutouts), birthday wishes and Bible trivia.
In between segments, Contreras gets a call from a listener who tells him she is drowning in pain because of her mother’s death in her Central American homeland. Contreras listens, asks questions and prays with the listener, encouraging her to focus on positive thoughts and memories.
One hour before the networking lunch, Contreras leads a “ping pong informativo” (informational ping pong) segment with eight guests from area school districts as well as Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Chesterfield County, the city of Richmond, the Richmond City Office of Elections, Henrico County Public Library and the Patrick Henry YMCA in Ashland. Two guests sit in an adjoining studio and six speak remotely, visible on one of the four computer screens. The entire segment is broadcast on air and on the radio station’s Facebook page.
Topics cover school news, government services, rental assistance, community events, crime fighting tips, non-emergency numbers, mental health workshops and vaccine clinics, with messages such as: “Do not let your children come to school if they are sick.”
“Bendiciones,” or blessings, is how Contreras bids his guests farewell. Other days, Contreras broadcasts sermons in Spanish from pastors on YouTube on themes he selects and elaborates to “share the Gospel.”