AUBURN — Gleason Media has begun broadcasting a new Somali radio show Sunday mornings on WEZR 1240-AM, General Manager Dick Gleason said.
“The Somali Show” is the first of its kind in the area to reach out to the Somali, Kenyan and Djibouti population living and working in Lewiston-Auburn, said Gleason, who is also the mayor of Auburn.
The show will be broadcast from 11 a.m. to noon Sundays. It will be in the Somali language.
The host of the show will be Fatouma Ahmed of Lewiston, a former radio newscaster in Africa, and a mother of one.
“It's going to have some Somali music, interviews, news and some advertisements,” Ahmed said Friday. The news will be about events happening in Lewiston and Auburn, with guests talking about adult education and the career center. The show will also feature news of Somalia, Juba, Kenya and Ethiopia.
Ahmed will translate the show's advertising to Somali.
Many are excited about the show, she said. “They want to have a Somalia program on the radio. Some people here don't speak English,” she said. “I hope the show will help the Somali community to understand what's going on. I feel very good about this. I'm very happy.”
Gleason said he was approached as Auburn mayor by Somali leaders looking for help with a sports tournament to help Somali youth. "As we sat there and talked, I said 'Gee, we have a French show. Maybe a Somali show would be of interest to you.'"
It was. The leaders told Gleason that Ahmed worked as a radio journalist in Africa.
When Ahmed came to the radio station, "I found out she knew how to operate the equipment," Gleason said. They decided to give the show a try. It aired for the first time Oct. 17. "It went very well," Gleason said. "Now we're spreading the word."
Somali and non-Somali leaders are happy about the show, he said. It will not only promote understanding, but Somali residents will get news from their homeland, be able to hear their tongue and native music on the airwaves, he said.
It's fitting, Gleason said, that the Somali Show will follow the French speaking show, "La Revue Francaise" with Connie Cote. The French language show airs from 9 to 11 a.m. Sundays.
Ahmed moved to Lewiston two years ago from Djibouti, Africa, with her daughter, Soumaya, 3. In Djibouti, Ahmed was a news announcer for “Radio Djibouti,” a government run radio station. Part of her job was to analyze and broadcast news from various sources.
Ahmed speaks four languages, English, French, Somali and Arabic.
Djibouti is a French and Arabic speaking country that borders Somalia. Djibouti became independent from France in 1977.
In Lewiston, Ahmed works for L.L. Bean, volunteers as a translator and for Catholic Charities of Maine, helping explain mail and bills to the Somali population.