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La Nueva Mix es Caliente!

Scott N. Miller
Vail, CO, Colorado

AVON ” A new radio station in town recently took 12 hours to raise $10,000 for a little boy’s surgery.

If you speak only English, you probably haven’t heard about this. If you speak Spanish in your home, you probably have.

The recent fund-raiser happened last month, when the staff of KQSE FM, which calls itself “La Nueva Mix,” or, “The New Mix” spent June 25 seeking donations for Liz Reyes-Rojas’ three-year-old son Ulices. With only three days left in a medical window for the boy to have heart surgery, the station spent the day soliciting donations.



Ulices had the surgery in Mexico City ” where patients have to pay up-front for medical treatment ” and is fine now. And the station ” which Reyes-Rojas acknowledges she hadn’t heard about until the donation drive ” has a new, faithful fan.

“I’m very happy,” Reyes-Rojas said through an interpreter. “If it wasn’t for them, he wouldn’t have gotten the surgery.”



A community resource

The bosses at NRC Broadcasting put La Nueva Mix on the air as a business decision. But the crew has made the station a mission.

When a neighbor called about Rojas-Reyes and her son, the crew went into action. It’s just part of being live, local and in Spanish.



“Whenever one of us sees an accident, we call it in and we put it on the air immediately,” disc jockey Roberto Hermosillo said. “We try to let people know what’s going on.”

The crew, led by program director Chava Balderas, better known as “Compachava,” all have experience in local radio. Usually, though, that’s meant putting on a show for a few hours on a weekend night.

The latest experiment started last fall, when Steve Wadlinger, vice president of NRC Broadcasting’s mountain division, started Spanish-language radio in the evenings on one of the group’s English-language stations in Glenwood Springs. It didn’t take long before there were nearly two dozen advertisers with more asking for air time.

“The business and listener response was incredible,” Wadlinger said. “Based on that, we launched a 24/7, live and local station March 3.”

The station started in the Vail Valley, and two months later was back on the air in Glenwood, fulfilling a promise Balderas made to those listeners.

Since then, the crew has jumped at the chance to be the voice of the area’s growing Hispanic population.

“The Latino population is now about 30 percent in Eagle County,” Wadlinger said. “It’s about 20 percent in Summit and Garfield counties. And until now, they haven’t had a vehicle for music and information.”

About that mix

Trying to be all things to all people is tough. But Balderas made the decision early on that the station would try to provide as much information as possible to its audience, and would try to play music that would appeal to a wide range of tastes. Hence, La Nueva Mix.

The station’s music library has everything from head-banging rock to mariachi to Central American cumbia music and more.

“I know people at radio stations in Denver who told me to stick to one thing,” Balderas said. “But I said I want salsa, I want traditional music, South American music, everything.”

Hermosillo does an oldies show.

“They know I love the classic from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s,” said Hermosillo, a longtime local business owner. “I didn’t know anything about a DJ, though… Chava approached me and I started learning the ropes.”

The formula seems to work. The station has sponsored concerts at Dobson Ice Arena in Vail and at the Eagle County Fairgrounds. The turnout has been huge.

“We had 2,000 people in Eagle for Cinco de Mayo,” Balderas said.

The station’s ability to get people to events has made inroads with advertisers, too.

“We did a remote at Vista Chevrolet in Glenwood,” Balderas said. “They had a lot of people that day, sold a lot of cars.”

Of course, getting advertisers on board is the point of a commercial radio station, and Wadlinger’s been pleased with the response.

“There was a lot of pent-up demand,” Wadlinger said. “It’s been a great business decision.”

Hermosillo said that commercial success has allowed the station to provide a service, too.

“This is way to communicate with our people,” Hermosillo said. “When I moved here in 1970 ” ’71, hardly anyone here was from Mexico. Now look.”

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 748-2930, or smiller@vaildaily.com.


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