Report: Hispanic Radio Dealing With Immigration Issue
June 20, 2007 at 5:45 AM (PT)
A million letters calling on CONGRESS to enact fair immigration reform were just part of Hispanic radio's efforts on this issue, say officials in that thriving media field. Some critics, however, want more, writes DAVID HINKLEY in THE DAILY NEWS.
EDDIE (PIOLIN) SOTELO, the LOS ANGELES host who delivered the letters and is heard in NEW YORK on UNIVISION WQBU, also helped Hispanic stations mobilize hundreds of thousands of immigration-reform demonstrators last year.
General manager FRANK FLORES of SBS WSKQ and WPAT, the two biggest Hispanic stations in NEW YORK, says that while neither is a talk station, "both regularly call attention to the issue," including the status of the controversial immigration bill now before Congress. WPAT devotes an hour every THURSDAY to immigration issues, he notes. "It's a very important issue for our listeners," he says. "Even second and third generation, everyone knows someone who's affected."
GERSON BORRERO, longtime EL DIARIO columnist, agrees that the media, including radio, have influenced the debate. But, he says, "I don't think radio does enough on behalf of its listeners. It's good at getting them to an event like a rally, but it doesn't do enough to educate them." Borrero, a former host at UNIVISION WADO, particularly faults talk stations.
"I think after the wave of demonstrations last year, some broadcasters got scared," he says. "But there's so much to do besides big demonstrations, like mobilizing people on the Internet. I'm not impressed with how they use the airwaves." Unfortunately, he says, "We don't have a LOU DOBBS on our side -- someone who, instead of criticizing immigrants, stands up regularly to defend them."
BORRERO's own view of the immigration issue, he says, is that "it's not a political problem, it's economic." In any case, he says, radio needs to step up on the subject. "What we have now is better than nothing. But we need more."