Printer Friendly


Byline: Fred Shuster Daily News Staff Writer

It wasn't long ago that a major advertising agency was frustrated trying to figure out why its campaign for Chevy Novas on Spanish-language radio was a bust.

Then, somebody realized what the phrase ``no vas'' (pronounced ``novas'') meant in Spanish: ``not going,'' as in a car that will not run.

Such mistakes are rare today, especially in cities like Los Angeles where the top-ranked radio station - KLVE-FM (107.5) - broadcasts in Spanish.

The unprecedented growth of the Latino market in Los Angeles, which many experts say fueled the rise of Spanish-language radio, wasn't entirely unexpected. The 1980 Census predicted the explosion, which was reflected in the next population count a decade later.

But few could have foretold with any certainty the grip Spanish broadcasters would have on the Los Angeles radio market, both in the all-important morning-drive period and throughout the rest of the day.

It was almost 10 years ago to the month that KLVE, known euphemistically as K-Love, first shot into the top 10 for all listeners age 12 and up, tying for 10th place with album-rocker KLOS-FM (95.5) with a 3.4 percent audience share - more than double its listenership of only three months previously.

It was also in the summer of '86 that Spanish-language KTNQ-AM's (1020) popular morning host Humberto Luna grabbed local radio's second-largest audience of adult listeners, just behind top-40 KIIS-FM's (102.7) venerable Rick Dees.

In the ensuing decade, Latino radio, which now takes in about $75 million annually - or 15 percent of the $500 million local radio total - has only gotten stronger, especially in the three years since Spanish-language KLAX-FM (97.9) soared to No. 1 in the Arbitron ratings with a format of Mexican country tunes and the popular dance music known as banda.

Last year, K-Love, one of 10 Spanish-language stations on the local dial, surged past KLAX with a winning formula of family-oriented humor and romantic ballads in Spanish, and the station has periodically held the top spot in mornings and throughout the day ever since.

``When KLAX rose in the market, they brought essentially a new radio station to the market,'' said radio industry analyst Allen Klein of Encino-based Media Research Graphics Inc. ``The format was hot, comparable almost to when disco hit the airwaves, except disco had a six-month longevity. But in the Spanish market, KLAX was bright, upbeat and attracted all age groups, which was another first.''

Radio is an industry that turns on fractions of share points, and ratings, of course, strongly influence ad revenues. Stations, like KLVE and KLAX, often earn as much money as their English-language counterparts, said Gordon Mason, president of the Southern California Broadcasters Association, a local trade organization.

``In L.A, if the radio industry does a litle over $500 million, a share point could be worth $5 million,'' he explained. ``So, if the English-language radio shares are diminished, it could mean a $20 million differential in ad revenue. If the money starts to go into Spanish-language radio instead of general market radio, then the stations are fighting for a smaller piece of the pie.''

So, it's no wonder the Anglo general managers are up in arms over the turn of events in the ratings, analyst Klein said.

Managers of a dozen English-language stations complained to the Arbitron company late last year that Spanish radio listeners were vastly over-represented in recent surveys, leading to ratings surges for many Latino stations and losses for Anglo outlets. Arbitron plans to find a way to deal with the complaint this summer.

``They didn't complain when they were doing good in the ratings,'' said Pepe Barreto of top-rated K-Love. ``Now, they complain when the Spanish-language stations are doing well. They cannot accept the fact that a Spanish station has beaten them. We are so many here that this is what happens. There's no question we're going to prevail. They (the English-language station managers) have to get out of Beverly Hills and away from the golf course and take a look at the reality of the population.''

Los Angeles, in which almost half the 3 million-plus population is Latino of mostly Mexican origin, isn't alone. New Spanish stations are popping up all over the nation. In the past 20 years, the number of Latino radio outlets nationwide has grown from 100 to nearly 600.

``The ratings don't lie,'' said Pio Ferro, K-Love's program director. ``There's a huge population of Latinos in Los Angeles. This format we're doing works in Miami, where the two top Spanish-language radio stations play the same music as us, and it just took off in New York. Everyone loves a love song. And when people come across the station in the car, they stay with it.''

Along with its fine-tuned music mix, local Spanish radio has also gotten better at promotion. Striking billboards, bus ads and upbeat commercials on Spanish-language television are now commonplace.

``Those factors may have something to do with the success of Spanish radio,'' said Juan Carlos Hidalgo, host of ``Juan Carlos & El Peladillo,'' the popular KLAX morning program. ``But really, I think it's a matter of the number of Spanish-speaking people here.''

In fact, some English-language radio stations, realizing that to be among the top earners they must appeal to the various ethnic elements that make up the city, now advertise on Spanish TV. At least 35 percent of the KIIS and oldies KRTH-FM (101.1) audience is Latino, according to Klein. And hip-hop station KPWR-FM (105.9) - Power 106 - regularly spins Spanish-language rap and boasts a popular morning show hosted by the Baka Boyz, two Latino brothers from Bakersfield.

``This is what makes those stations so strong in the market,'' Klein said. ``They mirror the market.''

The stations are after high-profile consumers, especially those between the ages of 18 and 49. According to a Hispanic Business survey from 1991, Latinos spent $216 billion on consumer goods and services, and that amount is expected to more than double by the year 2000.

``Spanish radio listeners were traditionally viewed as very loyal consumers, partly because they had less choice,'' said Jim Kalmenson, vice president and general manager at Spanish talk radio KWKW-AM (1330). ``Now, there are 10 Spanish-language radio stations to choose from in L.A., so they go where the best programming is.''

In the winter Arbitron report, K-Love ranked first among those age 12 and up, drawing an average 7.1 percent of local radio listeners. KLAX was in 10th place, KKHJ was 21st, KTNQ was 25th, and KWKW was 26th. K-Love's morning program, ``Barreto in the Morning,'' also ranked first.

``The success of my show is due to the fact that people can expect the unexpected there,'' Barreto said. ``Anything can happen - from news to entertainment to jokes to phone calls to sports. Anything. And every day is quite different.''

For many Latino listeners, radio is a habit carried to the U.S. from across the border.

``Radio is the primary medium in Mexico,'' explained Jack McVeigh, general sales manager at KLAX. ``People down there depend on it for everything from entertainment to information on government programs. They spend a lot more time listening to radio while, at the same time, Spanish-language programming has gotten much better. That could explain some of these shifts.''

Despite any survey adjustments promised by Arbitron, nobody expects the huge audience for Spanish-language radio to disappear anytime soon. Latino stations are high in the ratings in Miami, throughout Texas, in New York, and around California, including Fresno, which supports 11 Spanish stations.

``This is the No. 1 Hispanic market and the No. 1 radio market in the country,'' McVeigh said. ``That's not going to go away.''

Buenos dias, Spanish radio

Here are the top Spanish-language radio morning shows at a glance. All begin at 5 a.m. weekdays.

``Barreto in the Morning,'' KLVE-FM (107.5): Hosted by Pepe Barreto, with traffic reports from Liz Cueva (covering for Lupita Pena, who returns in mid-June) and news from Richard Santiago. A family-oriented, full-service show, featuring K-Love's music specialty, romantic ballads in Spanish. This top-rated program, ranked first overall among morning-drive radio shows in Los Angeles, draws a wide range of listeners ages 25 to 54.

``Juan Carlos and El Peladillo,'' KLAX-FM (97.9): Hosted by Juan Carlos Hidalgo and ``El Peladillo,'' a comic figure based on Cantinflas, the beloved Mexican movie clown. A full-service, family-oriented program, heavy on information, music and comedy, with segments featuring children. The station is known for a music blend of popular Mexican styles such as banda, nortena, ranchera and grupo.

``El Manicomio de la Manana,'' KKHJ-AM (930): Hosted by Joaquin Garza and La India Edelmira. A comical and topical talk show, with listener calls, giveaways, news, traffic, weather, sports and entertainment features.

``Humberto en la Manana,'' KTNQ-AM (1020): Hosted by Humberto Luna. A full-service, magazine-format program, with comedy, listener calls, news, sports and features. Along with Luna, two comedians are in studio, and guest jokesters from local TV often join the fun.

``Pina in the Morning,'' KWKW-AM (1330): Hosted by Jaime Pina, with Dona Paz and Pito Loco. A full-service, family-oriented show with comedy, music, traffic, news, listener calls and weather. Regular characters include Paz, an elderly grandmother who gives advice and oversees the program. Loco reports from the streets.


7 Photos, Box

Photo: (1--Cover--Color) The King of SPANISH RADIO

KLVE-FM's Pepe Barreto Leads Latinos to the top of L.A.'s airwaves

David Sprague/Daily News

(2) Humberto Luna shook up the Los Angeles radio market when his morning show finished second among adults in 1986. His ``Humberto en la Manana'' airs on KTNQ-AM (1020).

(3) The KWKW-AM (1330) morning crew includes Luis Carlos Rios, left, Rairo Cervantes, Diana Alvardo and host Jaime Pina. The show also features Dona Paz and Pito Loco.

(4) El Peladillo, left, Juan Carlos Hidalgo and Marco Mendez host the morning show on KLAX-FM (97.9). In the winter ratings, the station was 10th among listeners 12 and up.

(5) Joaquin Garza holds court on KKHJ-AM (930) during ``El Manicomio de la Manana.''

(6) `Now, (English-language stations) complain when the Spanish-language stations are doing well. They cannot accept the fact that a Spanish station has beaten them. We are so many here that this is what happens. There's no question we're going to prevail. They (the English-language station managers) have to get out of Beverly Hills and away from the golf course and take a look at the reality of the population.'

Pepe Barreto

KLVE-FM's ``Barreto in the Morning''

(7) ``Pina in the Morning'' on KWKW-AM, with host Jaime Pina, right, is one of the many full-service, family-oriented shows in the Southland's burgeoning Latino market. The station finished 26th in the latest Arbitron report.

Bob Halvorsen/Daily News

Box: Buenos dias, Spanish radio (See Text)
COPYRIGHT 1996 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

 Reader Opinion




Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:L.A. LIFE
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Date:Jun 6, 1996

Related Articles
DINING BEAT\Oscar's food fest.
Against corruption.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2015 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters