By Tracy Correa
FRESNO—For years, Eladio Castro, a PG&E gas distribution engineer in Fresno, believed there was an untapped market in local radio.
So, after a Catholic radio station operated by a local priest went off the air in Fresno, he and a friend saw their chance and in 2008 launched Radio Guadalupe Mission Inc.
Unlike other Spanish stations that provide music, Radio Guadalupe offers ministry to the large number of faithful Hispanic Catholics in the Central Valley – many of whom tune into radios while toiling in the Valley’s fields. But it’s more than ministry, Radio Guadalupe (1300 AM) also provides educational, community-service programming in a language that its listeners can understand.
The nonprofit radio program was named a winner of a $1,000 Power Your Community grant from PG&E after being nominated by Castro. The station is one of 91 organizations – all nominated by employees – selected for the grants of $1,000 or $2,500. The recipients are spread throughout the utility’s Northern and Central California service area.
Radio Guadalupe, which leases its 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. air time from the station owners, operates on limited funding. “This will pay for air time for nearly a week,” said Castro, who in addition to his day job at PG&E, is vice president of Radio Guadalupe.
The grant also will help provide information on assistance programs to help listeners decrease their utility bills and information on home-energy audits through PG&E’s partners in the Central Valley. The funds also will partially offset the cost of about 1,500 newsletters to program members.
“I’m very excited. It came at a time that was most needed,” said Jesus Villanueva, who started Radio Guadalupe with Castro and serves as its president. Program funding is tight, especially at the end of the year, he said.
Contributions such as PG&E’s $1,000 grant are rare for Radio Guadalupe which requires about $7,000 to $8,000 per month to operate. Most of program’s donations come from listeners who give on average $20 to $30, said Villanueva.
Radio Guadalupe has about 50,000 listeners – up from 15,000 when it first launched four years ago said Castro.
This is the second year of PG&E’s Power Your Community program. The employees’ relationship with the organization can be anything from founder to former neighbor.
PG&E chose grant recipients based on their connection to the company’s three community investment priorities—education, environmental stewardship, and community vitality.
“The relationships between the employees and the organizations make these grants particularly personal and special. And the dollars are supporting causes that improve the quality of life for our communities,” said Ezra Garrett, vice president of community relations and chief sustainability officer at PG&E.
The Power Your Community program is one of several ways PG&E gives back to the communities where its customers and employees live and work. In 2011, the utility contributed $23 million to charitable organizations and plans to provide even more this year. PG&E offers more information on its community investments on its website.
Email Tracy Correa at email@example.com.