On the Borderline

This Wall Street Journal article highlighted the explosive growth of Hispanic population in the United States, belied by the treatment of listeners on the commercial end of the spectrum. This, from Tom Taylor’s newsletter:

Major cuts at Spanish radio’s biggest group – which may be planning to go public.

TRI hasn’t used the “bloodbath” word in a very long time, but this qualifies — successful major market PDs inexplicably gone, the live staff at the already-centralized Recuerdo network operation vaporized, even the in-house research division in shutdown mode. And all in one bloody day. Here’s how it looks —

“Recuerdo”, the Spanish variety hits format that Univision syndicates to seven markets, will now be automated. Gone are 15 staffers, including the operations manager and PD Amalia Gonzalez. And it’s not like this service runs in tertiary markets that Arbitron’s never heard of. Univision does “Recuerdo” in Los Angeles (KRCD at 103.9, KRCV at 98.3), San Diego (KLQV at 102.9), San Jose (KBRG at 100.3), Chicago (WVIV at 103.1), Houston (KOVE at 106.5), Phoenix (KOMR at 106.3) and McAllen-Brownsville (KBTQ at 96.1).

Some major-market Univision PDs are gone, such as KLVE, Los Angeles PD Fernando Perez. Also Houston ops manager Arnulfo Ramirez, who had been with the company and its predecessors for two decades.

Peter Manriquez, a VP and format manager of Univision’s Kalle Spanish contemporary stations is gone. TRI hears there may’ve been airstaff cuts at some local Kalle stations.

The lights are dimmed at the in-house research unit known as SIP, for Servicio de Informacion Programativa. As many as 20 people are gone, including those in the call center. EVP David Gleason and Senior Vice President Ismar Santa Cruz are no longer in those positions. Lead Univision principal Haim Saban may be planning to take Univision public again, after a very expensive going-private deal with Jerry Perenchio four years ago. If they’re doing this purging of the payroll to pump up the cash flow, it’s a risky short-term strategy. The Hispanic Programming Board of Radio-Info.com began talking about the bloodbath soon after it began yesterday at 10am Pacific time.

We had posted, here, in a piece called “The Revolution Will Be Publicized,” on the lack of diversity at local non-comm (“public”) stations such as KUT in Austin. Now, it seems, there may be a new twist to this. WUFT in Gainesville, which created a firestorm when it changed format a year or so ago, is putting a Spanish-language station on an HD-3 channel. Is this radio’s modern-day equivalent of separate but equal, consigning Spanish to the purgatory of HD radio (to die a slow death)?

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