Reaching more Latino listeners is crucial to NPR’s survival, Tovares says

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The efforts by noncom Radio Bilingue, which is expanding and building five stations along the U.S.-Mexico border, “are key as the number of Latinos in the U.S. keeps growing and the nation moves toward a presidential election,” reports the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News. “We want to offer news and information that’s relevant to the lives of our listeners,” said executive producer Samuel Orozco, “so that they can use it as citizens, to be able to participate in the decision-making process and be active members of society.”

“They’re a model of how Latino public broadcasting can flourish,” Florence Hernandez-Ramos, director of Denver-based Latino Public Radio Consortium, told the paper. “There are a lot of people in the U.S. that speak primarily in Spanish. They have a right to engage in the national conversation.”

Only about 5 percent of the listeners of NPR are Latino, said Joseph Tovares, senior vice president for diversity and innovation at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. “If we are to survive,” Tovares noted, “we need to reach these folks.”

Radio Bilingue also oversaw Los Angeles Public Media, the CPB-backed startup that hoped to serve a new generation of minority listeners. It shuttered operations June 15 after failing to acquire an FM station and secure renewed support from CPB (Current, June 27, 2011).

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