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06/19/06 Building Unity In Hispanic Radio: The First Radio Ink Hispanic Radio Conference

Like an earthquake that broke open the ground, Americans recently witnessed a shake in our culture unlike anything I can remember. Fueled by radio stations that were reflecting the culture of their listeners, Hispanic people across America marched in the streets to make their voices heard. No matter where you stand on the emotionally charged immigration issue, it has reinforced the power of radio and revealed the power of the Hispanic market in America.

At a demographics conference I attended some 20 years ago, a map of the U.S. showed that most Hispanics were then living in near-border cities like San Diego, Los Angeles, and Houston. A second map projected that the country's Hispanic populations would expand into the heartland and through every city in the United States over the next 20 years. What was predicted then is now coming true.

Radio markets today have two markets within one: English-speaking and Spanish-speaking. Hispanic radio is mainstream in America today, and every major non-Hispanic radio company has either formed a Hispanic division, or is seriously thinking about it. The subject is discussed seriously on boards on which I sit, and seems to be on the minds of most broadcasters.

Just as Hispanic radio is a market within a market, I believe Hispanic radio is an industry within the radio industry. In many ways, it needs unique, customized solutions of its own. Though there is a spirit of cooperation, I feel there still exists a gunslinger mentality among some Hispanic broadcasters who want to go it alone. This attitude, in my opinion, does not help the Hispanic radio industry.

For the past 10 months, my staff and I have discussed this vision of unity with the leaders of most Hispanic broadcasting companies. Reactions have been mixed: negative from some, but positive from most. Based on these conversations, I believe that the Hispanic radio industry will embrace an effort to raise the tide and lift all ships.

With the support of most Hispanic radio leaders, I am announcing the inaugural Radio Ink Hispanic Radio Conference, to be held in 2007 in San Antonio. If you want to learn more about this new phenomenon, how your general-market station will be impacted, and what you can do to reach the Hispanic audience, you need to be there. You'll learn about demographic trends, hear advertiser discussions about Hispanic media, develop unified strategy, and learn about the unique challenges facing this industry. Ironically - and with the blessing of the Hispanic groups - the conference will be conducted in English.

To be a part of the conference as a speaker, presenter, advisor, participant, attendee, or sponsor, you must contact me within the next 30 days. We will then contact you with the details. E-mail me at Eric@RadioInk.com.

It's time for the infighting to stop, and for industry-wide unity to grace the future of this shining radio star.


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