Photo: (Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan was interviewed by Chinese Radio Seattle in 10/2017 when she was a mayoral candidate)
Photo: (Xiaoyuan Su (right in the front row), and Shuang-chiu Wang (2nd from the right in the front row) were on the stage of the 2014 Chinese Radio Seattle Spring Festival Gala)
Western Washington has had a rich history involving the Chinese-American community. Being on the Pacific Rim means the region has close ties to not only the local community, but also the lands of their ancestors. The contributions of those in community has been a big part of region’s success.
There is programming on Alternative Talk 1150AM that celebrates this heritage, all done through the use of Chinese language in a talk format: Chinese Radio Seattle.
Thanks to Dr. Xiaoyuan Su, founder and CEO of Chinese Radio Seattle, the program has flourished on KKNW for nearly nine years. This is no small feat, considering Seattle’s competitive radio market.
Dr. Su holds a PhD degree in Computer Science from Florida Atlantic University, and an MBA degree from University of Washington. He had been a senior data miner with Nuance Communications for six years before and during the startup process of Chinese Radio Seattle.
Dr. Su had been a university lecturer in China, during which he became a free-lance writer and published more 60 proses and other articles on local and national newspapers and magazines, and he published a collection of his fictions and proses in China in 1997.
“I had to give up my literature and journalist dream because there was not enough freedom of speech and press in the country, so I moved to USA to pursue higher education and career,” Dr. Su said.
Soon after developing the idea for Chinese Radio Seattle, Dr. Su began building a team of associates and volunteers to help produce and edit the programming. There is always much to do in this regard, as Chinese Radio Seattle airs for 27 hours per week on KKNW 1150AM.
“I founded Chinese Radio Seattle in 2012 and recruited more than 80 volunteers (some of them turned into staff or shareholders later) working together to realize the dream and raise the voice of the civic Chinese community up in the air,” he said.
Some in the local community have taken up even larger roles in the Chinese Radio Seattle organization. People like Ms. Shuang-chiu Wang, who is a member of the Board of Directors of Chinese Radio Seattle.
Ms. Wang is originally from Taiwan and holds a BA degree in Political Science from the Chinese Culture University in Taipei, Taiwan. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Ms. Wang had been a news announcer and a music program host at the Broadcasting Corporation of China (BCC), TV program producing assistant at Taiwan Television (TTV), and Chinese language instructor at the Inter-University Program for Chinese Language Studies in Taipei, Taiwan.
Ms. Wang immigrated to the United States in 1984. She has been a freelancing voice talent and language teacher of Mandarin Chinese since then. Ms. Wang joined Chinese Radio Seattle and began to host a late night show in 2013. She has been hosting the same show for almost eight years and taking charge of various off-line activities and events for the past seven years.
Besides organizing the programming each week, a huge challenge for all those involved with Chinese Radio Seattle has been the effects of the pandemic on the business side of the organization.
“The biggest challenge was to sustain the radio program during the Covid-19 pandemic. As a business, half of our revenue came from offline activities, however, during the pandemic, this portion went to almost zero, and our revenue from radio advertisement and sponsorship had a big hit as well,” he said.
Still, Chinese Radio Seattle remains an excellent opportunity for advertisers to reach out to this very attentive and loyal audience.
“We believe the future will be better for us after the Covid-19,” Dr. Su said, adding, “We can hold activities again and we will have more advertisers and the businesses we serve are going up.”
Dr. Su knew early on that Chinese Radio Seattle needed to be more than just programming; it also needed to be a conduit to the community are large.
Besides two radio channels (1150 AM and HD-3 FM 98.9), Chinese Radio Seattle has eight other platforms, including official website, official mobile app, an account on a popular online radio app Qingting FM, YouTube channel, accounts on social media (Facebook, Weibo, Twitter, and WeChat public accounts), which provide news, information and entertainment to the community.
“Our offline activities, such as Seattle Chinese Spring Festival Gala, CRS Art Center Training Classes, Washington State Youth Talent Competition, and Washington State Miss Chinese Competition,” he said, adding, “Participation in these events is meant to bring the overall community together.”
Dr. Su and all the associates involved in Chinese Radio Seattle have no plans of slowing down in the future. They are already making plans to expand on the organization’s mission.
“We plan to elevate the quality of our programs to another height,” said Dr. Su, adding, “We will be launching projects of civic education, oral history of the third wave of Chinese immigrants in USA, and much more.”