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Monday, May 18, 2009

Clear Channel Axes Local Latina DJs

Posted By on Mon, May 18, 2009 at 7:00 AM

The Party's Over: Sana G.
  • The Party's Over: Sana G.

Former Rolling Stone scribe Ben-Fong Torres' radio column in the Sunday Chron is usually an easy, breezy read. It tends to mark comings and goings in the commercial radio scene in an industry-friendly way without any in-depth analysis of what current trends in the industry--musical or otherwise--might mean. These past few years, it's been interesting to read Fong-Torres' accounts, which were as notable for what they didn't say as what they did.

Last Sunday, Fong-Torres actually reported some news. Apparently, Clear Channel's revenues are down almost 25 percent, which forced the conglomerate to lay off 500 folks nationwide. Among those layoffs was Sana G., the popular KMEL air personality, who was among a handful of Latina females on commercial radio. Another casualty was Sylvia Chacon, another Latina air personality and one of only two actual DJs on Star 103.

The implications of this move are considerable. It's unfortunate that a once-mighty corporate behemoth like Clear Channel is suffering in the current economic climate. But to axe not just one, but two Latina DJs--in California, no less--adds insult to injury.

A quick look at current census data reveals Latinos and Hispanics make up

almost 20% of the Bay Area's population - the biggest percentage of any

minority group. Additionally, Latins are one of the fastest-growing

ethnic groups among all Californians. According to U. S. Census Beaureau statistics, California ranks 1st among states for the size of its Latino population, Latinos represent over 1/3rd of the population in California, and projections indicate the Latino population will increase by more than 33% by 2015. Statistically, those percentages are even higher when you factor in Latinos under 18--which should be KMEL's target audience.

By letting these two popular DJs go, Clear

Channel is sending a clear message that females and minorities are

expendable, even when demographic trends suggest that the potential audience for

Latin women air personalities continues to grow. If the nation's

largest broadcast chain keeps losing money, layoffs are inevitable, but

why not cut some of the execs who have been stubborn to concede that

the radio game has changed, instead of air personalities beloved by the

community? That's a question we'd love to see Fong-Torres pose.

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Eric Arnold


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