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KZYS 105.1 FM Somali Radio

KZYS 105.1 FM Somali Radio

Ahmed Abdi - also known as Ahmed Laarri - came to St. Cloud more than 20 years ago. He fell in love with the city and began working as a Legal and Medical Interpreter for Bridge World Language Services. Since then, he’s worked in the central MN region and surrounding areas providing interpretation services for Stearns County, the court system, and local healthcare institutions like CentraCare. In 2018, Ahmed founded a media company and now manages a local FM radio station with a focus on producing local programs for the immigrant community.

“I moved here from Marshall in 2002 and quickly developed a liking for the area. After working for Bridge World Language Services, I began offering news translation services for the community in 2008, aiming to connect the immigrant community with the border St. Cloud Community. In 2016 I landed a position at the St. Cloud Times for Somali news. Shortly after, I formed Laarri Media Group.” Ahmed now serves as the Manager of KYZS 105.1 FM Radio and produces programs for the St. Cloud Somali Community radio and TV.

St. Cloud Somali Community Radio, KZYS-LP 105.1 FM, is the only Somali language radio in the St. Cloud area. Radio has an estimated 7,000-10,000 listeners in the region. Our programs are a mix of cultural presentations, Somali music, news, and special event interviews. Our station is on air 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and has been operating for six years. We have a dedicated Programs Manager who manages the day-to-day operation of the radio station and we also collaborate with St. Cloud Somali TV on video production and broadcast of information to individuals who prefer digital news.”

KZYS 105.1 FM Somali Radio St. Cloud“The radio has gained popularity within the Somali American Community in St. Cloud, and we aim to extend our reach to the mainstream community. We aspire to collaborate with other local media outlets and are actively seeking reporters who can write in English and share immigrant stories with a broader audience. It’s very useful for the community in terms of news and announcements. That is what makes it so exciting, too. Local communities use the radio to listen for updates, we want to make those accessible to everyone.” 

“We’ve been a part of the community for a while, accumulating a rich history in the area we serve. Our radio station played a significant role during the COVID-19 pandemic, disseminating crucial messages related to the community's response to the pandemic. We helped small business owners in our community relate their business news and announcements to our listeners - it makes them proud, and us proud to be able to do this.”

In an effort to continue growth and reach, Ahmed’s team is working to produce English language programs as well. “We’d like to hire a Journalist who can both write and produce programs for us in English so we can connect mainstream audiences to both business and government agencies, too. Our ultimate goal is to encourage local businesses to leverage our radio platform to connect with our audience for news and promotions. By sponsoring our programs, businesses can benefit from underwriting announcements, allowing them to showcase their services and offerings to our audience who they may not be reaching otherwise.” 

Ahmed and his team are keeping busy and have their sights set on their vision of connection and access. “We want to connect local business leaders and members of the Community. We want organizations - both nonprofit and nongovernmental - to use this FM radio station as well, for the benefit of both the community and their organizations.”

“If someone is interested in getting involved, we welcome individuals with a journalism background and are especially interested in engaging youth, particularly students studying journalism. We’re also seeking program partnerships with local business leaders. And if you or your business want your messages included in our broadcast, we have strategies to assist any local organization in reaching immigrant clients.”