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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.