Thursday, April 05, 2007

New Talk Show Targets Hispanic Market

There is a large population group that mostly that votes Democratic and generally skews to the liberal side of the public discussion, but one that is usually a no-show when it comes to talk radio in general and liberal talk in particular.

We are of course referring to Hispanics, the fastest growing population group in the U.S. According to the Census Bureau, there are 46 million Hispanics in U.S. In fact, since the year 2,000 nearly half of 9.4 million Americans added to the U.S. population have been Hispanics.

According to a Talker’s Magazine survey only 7.9% of talk radio listeners are Hispanic. That same survey found that 19% of talk radio listeners were African-Americans. So despite the fact that Hispanic’s account for a larger percentage of the American population than African Americans (14.0% versus 12.5%) they are much less likely to listen to talk radio than non-Hispanics.

Well, a new daily radio show, which will be launching early next week, is going to challenge the conventional wisdom that Hispanic’s just don’t do talk radio. The Mario Solis-Marich Show will be debuting on two of the most heavily penetrated U.S. Hispanic markets – El Paso and McAllen-Brownsville. The show will be picked up by two stations – KHRO/1650 in El Paso and KNVO-FM/101.1 in McAllen -- owned and operated by Entravision, one of largest operators of Spanish-language stations in country.

But Solis-Marich's show will not be in Spanish. It will be in English and directed as much to the general market as to the Hispanic market. For the past year, Solis-Marich has done a show on LA liberal talk station KTLK/1150, which is a Clear Channel Communications O & O station.

According to Paul Woodhull, president of Media Syndication Services and a partner in the new venture, Solis-Marich “has been honing his skills as talk show host in LA (where he is the number one weekend talk host) and now he is ready for prime time."

Woodhull should know a thing or two about talk show programming. He developed and owned The Ed Schultz Show, which he sold about two years ago to Product First --owned by radio veterans Randy Michaels and Stu Krane. He is also currently is part owner of The Bill Press Show.
Woodhull claims that while the show will attempt to bring Hispanics “to the talk radio table,” it will be presented in the familiar format of entertaining talk, interviews, and callers.

“Senor Pizza, the fastest growing pizza chain in the U.S, is owned by a company headed up by Hispanics, but they still use cheese, tomato, and dough to make their pizzas,” Woodhull said.

He also pointed out that the most popular TV show among Hispanics is not Mind of Mencia, but rather Grey's Anatomy.

“You don’t need an all Hispanic cast,” Woodhull said. “But it certainly doesn’t hurt to have an Hispanic in the ensemble.”

Solis-Marich confirmed that his new show will have an inclusive format.

“We don’t need to change the conversation, we just need to invite Hispanics into the conversation," Solis-Marich said. "Other talk shows have not invited them into the conversation. They haven’t focused on the issues that Latinos care about like the environment, education, and immigration.”

While it might be true that Hispanics are not big fans of talk radio; they seem to love all other kinds of radio, especially the Spanish language format.

According to Arbitron, Spanish language radio is far and away the fastest growing radio format. Over the past eight years (from 1998 to 2006), the combined AQH share of Spanish stations has grown from 6.7 to 11.2 -- a gain of 67.2%. The only other formats that have grown during this period are Sports -- 52.4%, Religious -- 38.1% and Urban -- 23.2%. Every music format has seen their share of the radio audience decline. News/talk, has essentially been flat over the past eight years, garnering a 14.3 share in 1998 and a 14.4 share in 2006. That’s a gain of less than 1% in eight years!

In addition to fact that the Hispanic population is growing much faster than the general population, there are other reasons why Spanish language radio has been experiencing double digit annual growth. Hispanics prefer radio to other media like newspapers and television. Also, they spend more time listening to radio than non-Hispanics – 22.5 versus 19 hours per week.

If Hispanic radio listeners accept Solis-Marich's invitation to table, that will probably be a good thing for liberal talk radio. In the last election, Hispanics favored Democratic candidates over Republicans by a 2-1 margin. Hispanics appear to be particularly annoyed with conservative talkers like John and Ken on KFI in Los Angeles. The LA talkers spend about 50% of time bashing immigrants and making fun of Hispanic politicians like Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (who they call Villa “Reconquista”) and former Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante (who they call Busta “Menche”)

The Mario Solis-Marich Show will debut "live and loud" on Tuesday from 2pm to 5pm CT.

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