One of the main data points to look at once the 2010 census results are out is the new distribution of Spanishonly, Bilingual and English only speakers in the Hispanic population.

According to the 2009 edition of the American Community Survey, in 2009 a significant percent (37%) of Hispanics communicated only or mostly in Spanish, a 68% increase from 2000, when they amounted to  only 22%.

Another expected 2010 census result is that U.S. born Hispanics will drive the majority of growth. With the growth coming from the non-immigrant population, which traditionally are more familiar with English, what is the reason for such a big increase in the mostly Spanish only proportion?

“Language assimilation is rapid Starting on March 1st, listeners of KZLI-AM in Tulsa, OK, expecting to  hear the patter of comedian Dennis Miller and former CNN anchor and immigration foe Lou Dobbs, will instead find religious advice… in Spanish. That's because last month, Gaytan Broadcasting, from Tulsa, purchased KZLI and KRVT (1270 AM) from Reunion Broadcasting to flip the stations into Spanish. That means that in addition to “Qué Buena” KXTD-AM (1530), which caters mostly to the Mexican community, Gaytan Broadcasting will have “La Mega” KRVT (1270 AM), offering a more tropical fare, and “La Luz,” KZLI a religious talk station. “The (Hispanic) population is growing, and we're planning 5 to 10 years down the road,” Allen McLaughlin, Gaytan Broadcasting Operations Director, tells Portada.

The landscape at the national level is not that different. In the 1990's, most Spanish-radio stations were owned by a few Spanish-language broadcasters. Since then, Clear Channel has acquired 19 Spanish language radio stations, CBS 4, and even smaller players, like Christian broadcasters Salem Communications, have ripped some success switching their English radio stations to Spanish. Salem flipped an English talk-radio station to KRYP-FM “93.1 El Rey” in 2007, which became the most popular Spanish station in Portland, Oregon. Salem also owns KDOW-AM “La Jefa” and KKMO-AM “Radio Sol” in Seattle, targeting the growing Mexican population in the West coast.

Advertisers are taking note. McLaughlin from Gaytan Broadcasting, says that about 70% of advertising revenue comes from local and regional businesses. However, national advertisers are also interested in the medium. According to Nielsen, prior to 2006, Farmers Insurance didn't invest a penny in Spanish radio advertising. This is not to say that Farmers wasn't trying to reach Latino customers at a local level. “Prior to launching our Hispanic advertising campaign we focused the majority of our efforts in events and activities that enabled us to connect with Hispanic communities at a very local level,” says Luisa Acosta-Franco, Vice President of Multicultural Marketing for Farmers Insurance. To that end, Acosta-Franco points to Farmer's partnership with the Smithsonian for the touring photography exhibit, Americanos, the Young Americanos Photography Competition, and having Edward James Olmos as national sponsor since 2006. But by 2008, Farmers was spending over $2 million in Hispanic advertising.

“Advertising has allowed us to connect with consumers in a whole new way. With the help of our ad agency, Accentmarketing, and our relationship with Edward James Olmos, we have been able to share really strong and unique information about the Farmers brand,” says Acosta-Franco.

These are smart business moves. According to Arbitron, a media and marketing research firm, between 94% and 96% of Latinos in the U.S. in every demographic group listen to the radio. These numbers have remained consistent since 2001, when Arbitron started conducting Hispanic radio surveys. Furthermore, in 2006, Arbitron included for the first time Mexican Regional as an official format in their Radio Today report, which tracks consumers listening habits at a national level. The report reviews 16 radio formats in the Hispanic market, including 10 Spanish language formats and six English-language formats. Mexican Regional is now the leading format with 300 stations across the nation, attracting more than 13 million listeners in 2009. The format attracted more than double the audience of Spanish Contemporary, the second-ranked format..

Luis Gutierrez, VP of Sales for GLR Networks, says, “There's been an increase in the last 10 years in regional Mexican in general, which is the format that predominates right now.” Along with a slight increase in talk radio in 2009, which Gutierrez attributes to the recession. “Many listeners need to consult doctors, lawyers, financial consultants, and maybe they need those services more than before, and have found in radio a free way to obtain advice.”

 

ENGLISH ALSO

Inversely, according to Arbitron's 2010 Hispanic Radio report, Latinos, both English and Spanish dominant, are very likely to tune in to English stations as well. When it comes to targeting Latinos in English language media, Toyota broke new ground with their Camry Hybrid TV ad in the 2006's Super bowl. In the ad, a father talks to his son in accented English, while the son answers in perfect English. They talk about how the car can switch between gas and electric power, comparing it to the father's ability to switch between English and Spanish. Most recently, Toyota came up with the advertising campaign, ¿A quién se le ocurrió eso? (Who thought of that?), which, according to Zoé Zeigler, a Toyota spokesperson, “involved participation from both Spanish -and English- speaking young Latinos and addressed the growing youth segment that's driving the Hispanic population in the U.S.” But this campaign is based mostly on user generated content on Facebook. Toyota currently has Hispanic radio spots running to support the Camry vehicle. The spots began running in September and will continue through March of this year.

Referring to English advertising in Spanish radio, Carlos San Jose, VP of Hispanic National Sales for Citadel en Español, says, “There's small percentage of that, across the country, particularly in big cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami, … but it's very, very rare. It's very cutting age”

On the other hand, Univision, a strict Spanish-only enforcer when it comes to TV, is more flexible when it comes to radio. Univision has two Hispanic targeted English radio stations in Albuquerque and San Antonio, KKSS-KISS and KBBT-THE BEAT respectively. Elsewhere, “many of our Spanish Contemporary formats play some English-language music and our talent occasionally uses English words where appropriate,” says Peter Walker, President of Univision Local Media, Univision Communications Inc. But demographics and geography can become obsolete in a globalized world. If radio is perceived as an intimate and local medium, it's because not too long ago you could only tune in as far as your antenna would allow.

But now most stations offer the option to tune in on-line. And smart phones apps let you record programs to listen to later or choose your own programming.

 

ONLINE PLATFORMS

In 2009, Citadel Media en Español partnered with Terra to create the online platforms for Citadel's Spanish radio stations. By the same token, According to San Jose from Citadel, Citadel adapts some of its programming for different markets. For example, ABC Radio's popular show Conexión Thalia might feature Regional Mexican music in the West Coast, and then be rerecorded with Pop music for the East Coast. And Grupo Prisa, a Spanish media conglomerate, is testing a system to separate publicity blocks for radio and the internet, so they can be commercialized independently. But the system has yet to be installed.

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