Friday, July 29, 2011

Spanish-Language Radio Swells Amid Media Slump

SALT LAKE CITY — La Favorita 104.7 FM started out on a low-strength AM frequency in 2006, a small-time dream of a local Hispanic businessman. The radio station stepped onto the scene at just the right time, though: Utah's Hispanic population grew by 78 percent over the last decade, according to the U.S. Census, and La Favorita's listenership swelled right along with it. July 7 the company moved to Salt Lake City, switched to an FM frequency and started broadcasting from Payson to Brigham City.

The little station's experience is indicative of a nationwide trend. English language media is having a rough go of it. Newsrooms across platforms saw audiences either stall or decline in 2010, according to the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. Newspaper newsrooms, now 30 percent smaller than in 2000, have shed some 1,500 jobs.

But while Spanish-language daily newspapers have taken some similar hits, radio stations have grown by more than one-third since 2002 and revenues are rising among weekly papers, according to market research analysts. In television, Spanish-language networks are seeing double-digit ratings boosts year-over-year. Top network researchers have predicted the media giant Univision — now fifth in ratings — could soon surpass traditional networks.

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