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A group of Spanish radio stations are being sold to a new democratic Latino group


A shake-up in Spanish-language radio is in the works. Eighteen large-market stations across the U.S. are being sold. Some are known for being ultraconservative, and the new buyer - it's a group largely run by Democrats. The stations include Radio Mambi in Miami. That's where NPR member station reporter Tim Padgett is following the story. Hi, Tim.


RASCOE: Tell us more about the stations being sold and this new buyer.

PADGETT: Well, these are 18 stations - Spanish-language stations - in 10 of the country's largest Latino radio markets from across the country - from Miami to Los Angeles, from New York to San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas, Houston. And these are - as you mentioned, in some of these markets, such as Miami, these are radio stations that can be very conservative, sometimes right-wing and sometimes accused of being exponents of right-wing disinformation. And that's one of the reasons that I think you're seeing groups like this new Latino media network, that is led by Democratic investors for the most part, although it's bipartisan - it's one of the reasons you're seeing them throwing resources now at buying stations like these.

RASCOE: So tell me more about this Latino media group - what they're saying and who is involved in this.

PADGETT: Well, it's led by two Democrats. One is Stephanie Valencia. She is a former Latino outreach director in the administration of former President Barack Obama. And another is Jess Morales Rocketto. She's a Democratic activist, one of the heads of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. And so, as I said, this is a largely Democrat-led group, but it also has more moderate Republicans also in the mix, such as Al Cardenas, who's a former Republican Party chair here in Florida.

RASCOE: So can you put the significance of these radio stations in these communities in perspective for us? Like, not only just they're in a lot of big cities, but do they have a very wide reach as far as audience? Do they have a lot of listeners?

PADGETT: Oh, yes. For example, in Miami, the Spanish-language radio market is on par with the English-language market in terms of its reach and influence - particularly, one of the stations that is being bought by the Latino media network here, Radio Mambi. And it has long been an institution in the Cuban exile community here, long a very conservative voice. It has also come under scrutiny for some of this right-wing disinformation that a lot of Spanish-language radio stations, particularly in South Florida, have been accused of pushing. And the fact that a more liberal group now will be purchasing this station, that is as much of a political story as it is a media story.

RASCOE: Oh, wow. And so just in the few seconds we have left, how is the news of this sale being received?

PADGETT: Well, by more moderate, more liberal Latinos in South Florida who have long chafed at what they call, again, that disinformation culture in Spanish-language radio and media here, it's been received very enthusiastically. We're not hearing really much of a response yet from the more conservative pockets of the Cuban and Latino community here, probably because they realize that they still have a lot of other outlets that they can turn to in this market.

RASCOE: Tim Padgett is the Americas editor at member station WLRN in Miami. Thanks so much, Tim.

PADGETT: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF PACHYMAN'S "EL BENSON") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tim Padgett is the Americas editor for Miami NPR affiliate WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida.