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Buenos dias from a Mexican radio

A local weekend Spanish radio station, Radio M, hits the airwaves, gaining support from the community it serves.

By CHASE SQUIRES, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 7, 2002


DADE CITY -- Saturday means Sabado on the airwaves of east Pasco County.

Aurora Juarez and the team of disc jockeys and supporting staff she assembled have taken to the airwaves for a Spanish-language, locally based radio program that Juarez says serves a growing Spanish-speaking community in Pasco, Sumter and eastern Hillsborough and Hernando counties.

"We get so many calls, people from all over, Bushnell, Plant City, Dade City, Brooksville, it's great," Juarez said. "There was really a big need for this. People want to listen and hear music that they like, they identify with, and they want to be able to call in, to talk with the DJ and hear some community news."

Juarez, 46, has always been active in the community, and she founded the Blue Angles charity fund last year in Dade City. The organization helps families meet burial costs when a loved one dies.

She credits friend James DeChant of Maria's Silk Flowers for coming up with the idea for a radio program.

"He suggested it, and we ended up talking with WDCF AM 1350, and they said, "Yeah, we need to reach the Spanish community,"' Juarez said. "As long as I filled up two hours, I could do anything I wanted."

She started small, just some music and community announcements for two hours on a Saturday morning last November. The show was a hit.

She expanded the show to six hours, then eight. This month, Juarez and her team -- which has grown to include club disc jockeys and others with announcing experience -- expand the program again.

The show started with the name La Sabrosita, which she said loosely translated means "delicious."

But as the show has grown, expanding again this month to run from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 8 p.m. Sundays, she said she wanted a more professional-sounding name. The new name is "Radio M."

"M is for music, it's for maximum and it's for Mexican," she said. "We'll be working with a lot of automated formats, getting in new information and music, and we'll be taking more local calls, putting people on the air, doing dedications and still announcing community events, fundraisers and things like that."

With a cost of $100 an hour due to WDCF, Juarez and her team have had to not only produce a show, but also generate advertising revenue. She said Mayla's Fashions, Maria's Silk Flowers and restaurant La Herradura have been longtime supporters, and she expects other businesses to join in as they realize the need to reach the Spanish-speaking community.

U.S. Census figures show 5,511 households in east Pasco reported speaking solely Spanish in the home. And while the show already reaches other counties, WDCF is planning to extend its range with a new tower that can reach Tampa and Central Florida, Juarez said.

It's the mix of talent and the closeness of the team that makes the show fun for listeners, Juarez said. Gustado Lara is an active musician and has a fun time motivating listeners to call in, she said. Illene Carrillo is a popular dancer in the Spanish-speaking community of east Pasco and is a hit at live broadcasts, Jose Molina is a well-known announcer who emcees local events and has name recognition, and Juarez said she focuses on community news and event broadcasting.

D.J. Moyo -- experienced in radio broadcasting, club disc jockey work and radio production -- was with the team this weekend. He helps put the shows together for the announcers, queing up the music in a computer format that makes the broadcast move smoothly.

"We want to give the client something they are proud of," he said. "We're community oriented, but it's professional."

Moyo said each show has its own flavor, with representations of many different styles of music from a variety of regions in Mexico, the tropics and Central America.

"People say, "Oh, it's all the same,' but it isn't," Moyo said. "There's so much variety, so many different kinds of music, there's something for everyone."

Moyo recorded introductions for each announcer and station identification bits. As he introduces disc jockeys, each announcement reminds the listeners, in Spanish, "And, of course, you are also a part of Radio M."

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