Rhode Island Armenian Radio Hour Celebrates 75 Years

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PROVIDENCE, RI – “Heritage, culture, tradition: Armenians are proud of it, and wherever you hear Armenian songs, Armenia lives.” These iconic words were spoken every Sunday morning from 1947 by the late Russell Gasparian as he greeted listeners at Armenian Radio Hourwho just turned 75e birthday on Saturday. Since Gasparian’s passing in 2010, the Armenian Radio Hour of Rhode Island has remained on the air as a labor of love, thanks to the dedication and commitment of Gasparian’s daughter, Sonya Taraian.

Sonya Taraian (centre) with her friends Cheryl DerHagopian (left) and Ann Ayrassian welcoming guests to the celebration (Photo: Pauline Getzoyan)

At its inception, when independent radio was in its infancy, the Armenian Radio Hour was broadcast from WRIB, which was located in the former Narragansett Hotel in downtown Providence. The Armenian Radio Hour is one of the nation’s longest running ethnic broadcasts and continues to serve as a source of news, current affairs and music for the Armenian community in Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts. Since the sale of WRIB to the Faith Christian Center in Seekonk, Massachusetts, when the station unexpectedly shut down, the Armenian Radio Hour, known colloquially as “Radio Hour”, has aired on WARA 1:20 p.m., based near Attleboro.

The Armenian Radio Hour was inducted into the New York Museum of Television and Radio (now the Paley Center for Media) on December 18, 1996, in recognition of its decades of service and achievement. 50 Hours of Armenian Radioe anniversary program, broadcast on June 15, 1997, is part of the museum’s permanent collection.

“Armenian Radio Hour meant a lot to my father,” Taraian told The Weekly after Saturday’s celebratory event. “He felt the show helped people stay connected to their heritage, especially for those who couldn’t attend church. He played hymns and had our local priests pre-record messages during the holidays. of the church, so it would be like attending a service through the show.

Saturday’s historic celebration brought together more than 200 supporters at the Egavian Cultural Center in Sts. Sahag and Armenian Apostolic Church Mesrob and showcased the energetic musical styles of Kevork Artinian and his band.

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During Sunday show at 9 a.m. from Radio Hour, Taraian expressed his gratitude to the community, “Thank you so much for being there, for supporting our show, especially over the past 75 years.” In her chat with the weekly, the longtime host highlighted her father’s dedication to the show, working on it seven days a week since she was 29, never missing a Sunday.

Taraian joined her father as a co-host in 1989, after he was hospitalized due to illness, and she has remained ever since. “I’m proud to continue and bring joy to our community,” said Taraian. “My family and I are so grateful to be able to carry on my father’s legacy.”

Taraian continues this legacy by embodying the traditional closing of the Armenian Radio Hour: “Making you happy makes me happy. Our time is up for today; thanks for yours.

Pauline Getzoyan

Pauline Getzoyan is the editor of the Armenian Weekly and an active member of the Armenian community in Rhode Island. A longtime member of Providence ARF and ARS, she is also a former member of the ARS Central Executive Council. A long-time advocate for genocide education through her work with the RI ANC, Pauline is co-chair of the RI branch of the Genocide Education Project. Additionally, she has been an Adjunct Reading and Writing Development Instructor in the Community College of Rhode Island English Department since 2005.

Pauline Getzoyan
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