3 Things Latinx Radio Stations Need to Start Doing
UNO! Play new music
If I hear Suavemente by Elvis Crespo, Maná’s Oye Mi Amor or Soda Stereo’s Música Ligera one more time when I turn on the radio, I’m going to stop listening. Wait, I already did. Latin America and Latinx culture in the U.S. is vast and rich with great musicians. You have artists and bands like Bomba Estereo, Monsieru Periné, Reyno, Juan Cirerol, La Santa Cecilia, Hello Seahorse, La Yegros, Mon Laferte, Ana Tijoux; projects like ZZK, Mexican Institute of Sound, El Dusty, Nicola Cruz, El Negro Dub and so many others.
Yet for the last decade, radio stations have chosen to be stuck on playing stuff from 20 years ago as opposed to introducing the masses to new music. Also, on stations that are not regional Mexican, we’re bombarded with Reggaeton 24/7 when there’s so much diversity in genres (read our story on bands we want to see in La Phoenikera for a peak). In a time when people don’t have to rely on the radio to find new music, stations would do a service to themselves by staying relevant and being a source of novelty instead of nostalgia.
DOS! Treat and portray gay folk and women with respect
Let’s face it, when it comes to gender equality and talking about LGBTQ communities in non-stereotypical ways, Latinx radio stations have not kept up. My stomach churns when I turn the dial to a Spanish station in my car and the hosts are talking about gay peeps in a way that completely ignores complexity and bolsters derogatory stereotypes. Or when the hosts are two men and a woman and she keeps getting shut down by misogynistic comments and mansplaining.
I hate to break it to them but the listeners who are ok with that are aging out. The future is young and Latinx millennials and younger generations have diversity in perspective. More than that, they want to see themselves portrayed respectfully and accurately in the media and they are good at finding something new when they don’t get that.
Get with it radio stations because insulting, misogynistic, and homophobic commentary is not the cool thing right now…actually EVER! The difference is we have options now.
TRES! Educate instead of perpetuate ignorance
Though some may say radio is dying, it’s still a pretty important media platform for a lot of people. However, just like stations are getting stuck on old music, they are also caught up recycling sensationalist and retrograde topics in their talk shows. Every week there’s a different version of “¿tu pareja te está poniendo el cuerno?” or “You paid for her boob job and now she left you.”
Not only does this revert back to our previous point about stereotypes and misogyny, but it does nothing to give people content that actually matters and helps them advance. Rich, relevant, current topics can be touched on in entertaining and attractive ways with imaginative production. For some reason though, producers choose to be lazy-minded and talk about the same thing over and over because “it works.”
Well guess what, we fucking hate it! I can no longer listen to a Spanish talk radio show in La Phoenikera because I can’t stomach stations thinking it’s ok to dumb shit down instead of elevate our community. This sucks because I like my banda, my Vicente Fernandez, Espinoza Paz and Jenni Rivera. Unfortunately the stations that play the music that keeps me close to my roots are the ones more guilty of this.
Alternatives and solutions
Because we are about more than bitching and moaning when we don’t like something, we also like to talk about what can be done about it.
Women working in radio, speak up! Y’all are filled with chingonería, demand to be treated and depicted accordingly. Also, talk about other than celebrity gossip when you have the mic. People want to hear about more meaningful stuff that is relevant and uplifting. Women listening to the radio, if you hear something that makes you cringe about how the female gender is being characterized call them and ask them to change it. They’ll do something if they get enough calls and lose enough listeners.
LGBTQ folk, same thing. Especially in La Phoenikera, we know there are prominent members of the LGBTQ community working in Spanish media. Hit them up and ask them what’s up with their portrayals? They have power, they can make shit happen.
Radio producers, podcasts like Radio Ambulante, Radio Menea, Alt.Latino are examples of good and compelling content you can look to. And please, cut the bullshit of “Paisas don’t like to listen to other things.” Try us.
We are at an important time in history when we need to be intellectually equipped in order to thrive, especially those communities that have been marginalized. Mainstream media can play a big role in informing and empowering people without having to sacrifice entertainment to do it. Radio stations do us all a favor and get it together.