Someone You Should Know: The Voice Behind La Voz Radio Show

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.- Around 145 languages are spoken in Sioux Falls alone, with English and Spanish being the most widely spoken. With this rich diversity, a Sioux Falls man wants to bring different cultures together despite the language barrier.

“I’m trying to think, Hola,” says Sheila Anderson, as she tries her best to say something in Spanish.

Sheila Anderson is still trying to pick up a few words in Spanish.

“Still learning,” says Anderson with a laugh.

She’s found a little help from her friend of 10 years Juan Bonilla. Bonilla is the host of the 3-hour La Voz bilingual radio show that airs every Sunday out of the University of Sioux Falls.

“And this is one way that anyone can learn about another culture,” says Anderson.

Anderson is part Mexican, but she feels she never got a chance to learn about her heritage after her grandmother passed away. Listening to Bonilla’s show online on USF’s website has helped her find what her life was missing.

“Even when I don’t understand it all. It feels like home, it makes me feel closer to my grandmother,” says Anderson.

English is Anderson’s first language, but that’s not the case for Otto Garcia. Garcia and his family used to live in California, where many radio stations were in Spanish. That all changed when he moved to Sioux Falls.

“When you don’t speak English as your second language, you have to be listening to your language, while you learn. Here in Sioux Falls, we don’t have that,” says Otto Garcia

That’s why he was thrilled to finally discover La Voz.

“I like it because at least you have something in your language,” Garcia

Garcia says this show has become an educational experience for others in the community.

“It’s very important for Latinos to have the knowledge and roots of where they came from,”

Listeners like Garcia and Anderson are what Bonilla says inspires him.

“It’s fun that is something you know fills me up of all the energy, that I need to continue doing this,” says La Voz Radio Host Juan Bonilla.

Bonilla says when he moved to town 15 years ago, he felt the community needed something like this. He started the show right away and moved it to a studio at USF in 2009.

“So all the diverse community can understand it, our community here in Sioux Falls understand it, and the Latino community also understand it,” says Bonilla.

With around 110,000 listeners in the Sioux Empire, Bonilla says he’s grateful to be a voice people rely on and find comfort in.

“I feel so happy because I am doing something for our community and it’s an example of all the things we can do,” says Bonilla

Bonilla says when you are doing what you love time seems to fly by.

“When I look back I say, I started the other day. Eight years already passed, but it’s fun,” says Bonilla.

Juan Bonilla says his dream is to expand the show to a commercial radio station.

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