about five years ago by María del Mar Piedrabuena
With Merengue, Reggaeton, and Community Awareness, Suffolk Radio Station Unites Spanish Speakers
While the last notes of a well-known Colombian salsa song play out and a Venezuelan merengue is next on the pre-recorded mix, Ana Maria Caraballo, 29, takes a call from a Dominican woman who just won a pair of tickets for an upcoming reggaeton concert.
Having been recently promoted to program director, in addition to her on-air radio personality job for WBON La Fiesta 98.5FM, Caraballo, a Puerto Rican native, is no stranger to dealing with the rich diversity of Latin culture and all the differences that exist between nationalities.
“Latinos are a melting pot,” she said.
Caraballo, who came from New Jersey to have her own show at La Fiesta, was surprised to find such an ethnic diversity east of New York City. “I didn’t even know there was a huge community of Hispanic people on Long Island.”
Through La Fiesta, Spanish-speaking immigrants from Huntington to Montauk have been able to move to the rhythm of music from their native countries, listen to Latino-centric talk shows, and receive important information about everything from immigration policy to charity events.
Hear Caraballo talk about La Fiesta:
As a Suffolk-based radio station, La Fiesta is considered “class A” due to its limited geographical reach, a fact that John Caracciolo, the owner of the station, considers an advantage. With a more focused listenership, he can offer cheaper advertising rates than other radio stations that also cover New York City.
“We’re built and continue to be built on local advertisers,” Caracciolo said.
With advertisers such as Huntington Honda, TD Bank, and the Long Island Ducks baseball team, this niche methodology is especially important for La Fiesta, the only Spanish-language radio station that reaches all of Suffolk County. There’s definitely an audience: Suffolk is home to 246,000 Latinos, or 16 percent of the total population, according to a recent Suffolk County Government Comprehensive Plan report. Of those Latinos, the Fiscal Policy Institute reported in a 2010 survey that about 170,000 are Spanish-speakers.