On a Monday morning, Oct. 9, 2017, Francisco Pardo, the host of the Mañanitas Campiranas radio show on KBBF, drove from Petaluma to the station’s studio in Santa Rosa.
“He called me later and he said he realized, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m the only car going towards Santa Rosa,’” says Alicia Sanchez, the board president of the Bilingual Broadcasting Foundation, the nonprofit which oversees KBBF, a multilingual radio station which has broadcast from Santa Rosa for nearly five decades.
Hours before Pardo drove north that morning, a historic series of fires erupted near Santa Rosa, threatening the city and panicking hundreds of thousands of Sonoma County residents. However, local officials weren’t issuing evacuation orders—much less any other information—in any other language than English, making Pardo’s radio show, which had a large following among Sonoma County farm workers, more crucial than ever.
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