HISPANIC RADIO HEATS UP THE AIRWAVES LATINO STATIONS 'BETTER PROMOTED, BETTER RESEARCHED, BETTER EXECUTED'

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Gains in Hispanic ra dio audiences and ad revenues are hot ter than salsa music shows.

Hispanic radio "deserves to be recognized as .|.|. a significant player within the marketplace," says David Lykes, senior VP-marketing for Tichenor Media Systems, an owner of U.S. Spanish-language radio stations.

Spanish-language stations have seen big listenership jumps in the past year. Some Hispanic stations are beating general-audience stations in Arbitron Co. ratings.

WAQI in Miami is No.|2 and KXTN-AM/FM is No.|1 in San Antonio, according to the summer 1993 figures. Meanwhile, KLAX-FM in Los Angeles has been No.|1 in that market for over a year (see chart at right).

There's no doubt these stations have profited from the growth in the U.S. Hispanic population, currently at 25.5 million. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Hispanic population is increasing so quickly that by 2010 it should be the nation's largest minority ethnic group.

Still, the ratings jumps also have come from improvements in Hispanic station marketing and programming.

Today, Hispanic stations "are better promoted, better researched, better executed," says Warren Tichenor, general manager at KXTN.

KXTN has a $350,000 annual promotion budget that includes TV, outdoor and newspaper ad buys, with the advertising created in-house.

Promotion activities are tagged "San Antonio's Numero Uno Tejano Hit Station," referring to tejano music, a combination of Hispanic and American music.

In New York, WSKQ-FM this month launched a subway ad campaign to increase its listenership and promote the station.

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The $300,000 in-house effort, which also includes forthcoming ads for sister station WSKQ-AM, targets young Hispanics between 18 and 34 via the out-of-home ads.

Station ownership "sees what has happened [with KLAX's success] and is putting a lot behind advertising," says Luis Alvarez, WSKQ-FM's sales manager. "The time spent listening to Spanish radio is higher than any other format."

Some stations have posted audience increases by specializing their formats.

Mr. Alvarez, whose station's ownership also owns KLAX-FM, attributes much of the success in Los Angeles to the interest in banda, a new music format targeting Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in the 18-to-34 year-old age group.

"The formatting approach of Hispanic stations is more fine-tuned," says Mr. Alvarez.

Gene Bryan, VP-group sales of Spanish Broadcasting Systems, a Spanish radio company with stations in New York, Miami and Los Angeles, sees KLAX's success as the big break that Spanish-language radio has been anticipating.

"This shows that Spanish radio stations can generate ratings .|.|. and show the general-market broadcast community that Spanish radio is a legitimate format," he says.

The bigger audiences brought in from marketing and programming improvements have caught the attention of advertisers.

According to Hispanic Business, marketers spent $230.7 million in Hispanic radio last year, an increase of 3.6% over 1992. More than three-fourths of the 1993 Hispanic radio expenditures-$178.5 million, or 77.4%-went to local stations.

"The local advertiser understands the significance and the importance of the Hispanic consumer within their communities .|.|. whereas many national advertisers don't talk to [Hispanics] at all," Mr. Lykes says.

But this increase in audience has brought a boost in ad rates, media buyers say.

Brenda Ellwood, media director at Noble & Asociados, Irvine, Calif., says local rates jumped 37% last year on the stations where she places ads.

"In Los Angeles, radio is more expensive than television," she says.

Tony Hernandez, VP-general sales manager for Cadena Radio Centro, a Span-(Continued on Page S-10)

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ish radio network, acknowledges the difference in ad rates.

"Three years ago, advertisers on the network paid somewhere in the $500 range" for a minute, he says. "Today, a spot on the network goes for anywhere between $2,000 and $2,500."

But the audience has increased tremendously over the past three years, too, says Mr. Hernandez, who notes that CRC has expanded from a network of 19 affiliates to more than 60.

Despite the increase in listeners, some industry watchers contend the Hispanic audience is still underestimated. "We have not found a rating system that accurately monitors our market," says Mr. Hernandez.

He notes that in the market there is still "a very sizable number" of illegal aliens, some who fear information from listener diaries may get back to the government.

Currently, Arbitron identifies Hispanic households by contacting people within a specified area and asking them whether they consider themselves of Hispanic origin. Households which do identify themselves as Hispanic are asked to participate in more in-depth surveys.M

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