Wednesday, July 15, 2009

One more on the WQXR deal

In the online press explosion regarding the WQXR deal, very little mention has been made of Univision and the current 105.9 station, WCAA. Univision is responsible for the programming of some 70 Spanish language stations in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. They're the ones who just shelled out $33.5 million, so you'd think everybody in the news media would be calling for an interview. Apparently the company is just going to move its current WCAA station to the new frequency. With greater signal strength and a central location on the FM dial, the company will be able to expand on an already successful formula.

WCAA is a commercial pop station popularly known as "La Kalle," ("Caliente 105.9"--not to be confused with every other "caliente" frequency out there). "La Kalle" is a popular respelling of "La Calle" or "Street." The station plays what is known in music marketing as Spanish Tropical, a format Univision defines as "Salsa, Merengue, Cumbia and Reggaeton."

The fact that the station broadcasts in Spanish has contributed to the lack of discussion about it in the media. There's clearly a language barrier at work in the news industry, if not an actual bias.

The station's commercial pop format also makes its victory in this deal seem less than newsworthy. Where QXR is basically the only classical music station in New York City, La Kalle 105.9 is one of five accessible Spanish-language stations listed in the New York Radio Guide (not all five are playing reggaeton, but a few are). That may simply be another facet of a Spanish-language bias, but there it is.

Adding to the problem, Univision hasn't released a statement yet.


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