Swiss NPR journalist visits, reports on Sunrise Bluffs

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Those in Switzerland will soon learn about Belen's own retirement community — Sunrise Bluffs.

Max Akermann, a 25-year political journalist for Swiss Radio and Television, will be highlighting the 55-plus community during the radio series "Faces," which airs on the National Public Radio German edition.

Akermann spent last Monday immersed in the Sunrise Bluffs community learning beginner line dancing and listening to country/western music alongside residents, visiting with resident artists and taking a tour of the facility's amenities.

"He wanted to talk to people and find out why they moved here, what brought us here and if we were happy that we were here, and stuff like that," said Sunrise Bluffs resident Barbra Bransky.

Bransky said she was thrilled to learn in mid-April that Akermann was going to do a segment on the Southwest retirement community, located south of Camino del Llano along Interstate 25.

"I was thrilled, because I am a great NPR fan. I've listened to NPR for 50 years," she said. "I thought, 'Oh, how neat. We are getting international fame,' because he does a program that broadcasts in Switzerland."

When word of the radio segment spread, other residents joined in on Bransky's excitement.

"Many of them were thrilled," she said. "People are so television oriented nowadays that some didn't know what public radio was, but thought it was really neat."

The radio segment "Faces" is a series of 10 to 12 profiles on Americans, such as homeless individuals, war veterans, former astronauts, cowboys, Miss Indian World and everyday folks, aired over a span of two weeks.

Akermann was passing through New Mexico to attend The Gathering of Nations Native American Powwow and learned about the community of about 100 homes and 150 residents by accident.

"I looked it up on the Internet and I ended up here," Akermann said. "I found it interesting that this is more of an average, modest gated community."

In Switzerland, it's uncommon to have gated communities and even rarer to find a 55-plus community of snowbirds.

Akermann is one of two United States correspondents for the Swiss Public Radio. He is based out of San Francisco, Calif., and scours the nation for stories.

The Sunrise Bluffs profile will be aired during a 10-minute segment in August.


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