HISPANIC RADIO WAVES.

Author:LEWIS, PETE
 
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DENVER'S RADIO INDUSTRY EVOLVES TO MEET A MARKET POTENTIALLY POISED TO TAKE OFF. CENSUS RESULTS WILL TELL FOR SURE.

Talk with almost anyone involved with Hispanic radio in Colorado and invariably you'll hear the same thing.

"Just wait until the 2000 Census results come out."

They believe the U.S. Bureau of Census will confirm what they already know: that the state's Hispanic population is even larger than forecasters are predicting. Bolstered by a healthy buying power -- at least $6.5 billion statewide -- that growth has the state's radio industry taking notice.

"The market is still growing, and there is a lot of opportunity," said Evelyn Casias, former general manager of KCUV and KBNO, Denver's first and longest-running Spanish-language station before it was sold last year.

A 1998 Census Bureau report estimated that 578,000 Hispanics live in Colorado, making up 14.5% of the state's total population. Many find this too conservative: The state's demographer estimated Colorado's Hispanic population at 637,000, and others put the total at almost 750,000. Results aren't in yet from the 2000 census, but the Census Bureau fore casts Colorado's Hispanic population will increase 92% from 1997 to 2025, compared with 23% for the states total population. About 25% of Denver's population is Hispanic, with an estimated 135,000 Hispanic households and an average house hold income of almost $40,000. Depending on whom you ask, the Denver area ranks 12th, 13th or 14th in the national Hispanic market.

Buying power is high: some $6.5 billion in 1997, according to the Hispanic Consumer Market Report from DRI/McGraw-Hill, Hispanic buying power in the Denver Metro area alone is $3.5 billion, said Brigette Scherrer, an account executive at KJMN and KMXA.

Not surprisingly, most of Colorado's Hispanic radio stations are in the Denver metro area, and broadcast up and down the Front Range. The city has four Spanish-language radio stations, with two more potentially in the works: Existing stations include KJMN (92.1-FM) Radio Romantica, which plays Mexican adult contemporary music with local news on weekdays; KMXA (1090-AM) Radio Tri-Color, regional Mexican music with some local news, traffic and sports; KCUV (1150-AM), which is affiliated with Miami's Radio Unica, and features talk, news and sports; and KLME (1390-AM), Denver's only locally owned His panic radio station that features modern and traditional Mexican music, local news, traffic, sports and talk.

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