Koreatown : KBLA's 'Voices' Tries to Cut the Static

For two hours on Sunday nights, the city's dissonant chorus of multiethnic voices can tune in to a radio talk show designed to put everyone on the same wavelength.

"Hi, everyone. This is Clara Young and welcome once again to 'Voices of Los Angeles.' "

With that introduction, Young, the host and producer, launches into the topic of the week. Sometimes it's heavy--domestic violence, teen pregnancy, gangs, interracial relationships--and sometimes it covers lighter fare like sports or ethnic comedians.

She began the show about seven months ago to "help each of us understand each other and to encourage people to come forth and talk about problems as well as their pride in their cultures."

For Young, a 33-year-old bilingual journalist who has worked for KCOP-TV Channel 13, the Korea Times, KSCI-TV Channel 18 and as a production manager for NBC Sports' 1988 Summer Olympics coverage, "Voices of Los Angeles" is a labor of love for which she receives minimal remuneration. "I call it my hobby," she said.

Broadcast from 9-11 p.m. in English on KBLA-AM 1580, Young's show has attracted an audience eager to hear minorities on the air or curious about perspectives different from their own.

KBLA leases most of its airtime to Radio Korea for Korean-language programming, but Young has carved out an English-language niche with her Sunday night show and her "Korean-American Hour," which airs at 6 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

The latter show provides a forum for young Korean Americans--cultural hybrids shaped by often competing influences and pressures--to talk about problems and experiences their parents may have trouble comprehending. Young, who was born in Seoul, Korea, moved to the United States with her family when she was 9.

She casts a wider net Sundays, in search of topics, guests and callers spanning the city's spectrum.

"I think people want more information because they are really wondering what other ethnic groups are like," Young said. "We make jokes about the stereotypes that always come up.

"I want to get the average person's perspective because most people say that so-called community leaders don't speak for them."

Listeners tell Young that the show often reveals similarities between people of different backgrounds. "People will be listening to someone talk and they'll go, 'Huh. That's interesting. I didn't know that about Koreans or African Americans.' And maybe next time they'll be more open-minded," she said.

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