RICHMOND, Va. -- Oscar Contreras has been connecting people through the airwaves since 2006 on Radio Poder 1380 AM.
He helped launch the Christian station in 2006.
"I've grown in what I do. I had no idea how to speak into a microphone," Oscar said.
Oscar speaks both Spanish and English on his radio show. It airs every weekday from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m.
"Seventy percent of our audience is bilingual. We play music from every part of Latin America, " he said.
A large portion of his audience is Latino immigrants.
"In Virginia, we have a large community of immigrants," said Oscar. "The agencies or leaders who want to communicate something, they come to us and we open up the mic for them. It's not breaking news, but it is more of the day-to-day what they need, how to navigate the school system, the health system and if you need a lawyer or just the everyday things."
Oscar knows he has an important job.
"I have found a deep purpose for being here. I understand how important it is for some people and how vital it is for others. And so, especially being an immigrant, speaking a different language," Oscar said.
Oscar said when his family came to the United States from Guatemala in 1995 they understood little English.
"It was horrible. My sister was in high school and I was in elementary and we would get on the bus and cry every day and say we want to go back, we want to go back. Well, we couldn't go back because we didn't have the money to go back," Oscar explained.
He said he survived the best he could.
"I memorized where the Spanish class was with the Spanish teacher. I would go there and say I'm lost, can you help me out," Oscar explained.
Twenty-six years later, he's helping Radio Poder honor Virginians who are helping the Latino immigrant community navigate the Commonwealth.
"Through all these years we've worked with so many people from around the state to keep our community informed. So, for our 15th anniversary, we decided to honor all of those people, and we call them, Personas el Poder. People of will and power," said Oscar. "They lead by example. They advocate, they don't get tired."
Oscar himself was honored at the celebration by Virginia's first lady, Pam Northam.
"It's not for me. It's for the people around me who have helped me. Anyone can take this job. Anyone can do this. But, it happens to be me right now, and I want to appreciate it," Oscar, explaining how he felt receiving the honor from Northam.
Oscar doesn't take his job for granted. He said he knows people are counting on him.
"It's a gift, I think, " said Oscar.
You can learn more about Radio Poder by visiting the station's Facebook page here.
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