Ibero-American Action League will launch the first 24-hour Latino-operated radio station in Upstate New York. WEPL 97.1 FM will make its first Spanish language broadcast sometime in November, says Gladys Pedraza Burgos, Ibero’s COO.
WEPL’s format will lean heavily on Latin Tropical – salsa, merengue, bachata — and Latin pop to reflect the listening interests of the Rochester market, Burgos says, which is mainly made up of people of Caribbean descent.
“But it will also draw on the traditional guitar and big band Latin music of the 1950’s,” Burgos says.
Though music is WEPL’s main component, Burgos says that the station will also reach the Rochester area’s growing Latino market with information about health, education, and events important to the community.
“They will hear music from popular artists like Marc Anthony and Shakira, and then we will drop in health bits like ‘Here’s how to cook a healthy meal,’” she says.
It’s a formula that has been used successfully by popular Latin stations such as La Mega in New York City, El Zol in Miami, and Zeta in Puerto Rico.
Julio Saenz, WEPL’s station manager, founded ConXion, a local Latino newspaper that he later sold.
Local musician and producer Hector Arguinzoni will host the Monday through Friday afternoon drive-time programming and radio DJ Nemesio Martinez will host Sunday Traditional Island Music.
Saenz says that WEPL will reach the 65,000 Latinos in Rochester, as well as non-Latinos who enjoy the culture and music. The station will live stream its broadcast, which means that WEPL can reach listeners in Buffalo, Syracuse, and the Finger Lakes.
“Rochester makes sense because we have the largest Latino community in the state outside of New York City,” Saenz says.