If you speak Spanish, even if just a little bit, tune into one of the local Hispanic radio stations while you furiously speed along U.S. 1 to hunt for a parking space. You might be surprised by what you hear. Between the sultry sounds of Paulina Rubio, Carlos Vives and Alejandro Sanz, you’ll hear a cocktail of racial slurs, lewd sexual innuendo, homophobic jokes and the Spanish version of George Carlin’s seven dirty words.
All of these are inadmissible in American media, for the most part at least, especially during the day. But these stations are not really part of the American media. They’re in a very peculiar niche of it: the American Hispanic media.
Hispanics are not (and, hopefully, will never be) exactly like Americans. And, so, we shouldn’t try and shape them, or their media, by holding them to American standards. Hispanics have their own way of hosting, and of hearing and understanding. They carry their own cultural baggage and conceptions while listening or talking to each other–something that many non-Hispanics may not grasp and by which they may even be offended. That is somewhat comparable to what a Polish foreign student who just arrived in the United States might feel when listening to the usually harmless local jokes.
While the United States has the tendency to have a false Puritanism, Hispanics usually don’t. And the last thing I’d like to see would be for Hispanic broadcasters to simply try and copy the American way while they are on the air.
The Federal Communication Commission, with its 1927 and 1934 acts, sought to distribute the licenses for radio stations based on the “best qualified to serve the public convenience, interest, or necessity.” Radio stations should be representative of the public it serves, transmitting the information and culture in a way that not only they can understand, but also that they need.
It’s one thing to think of Hispanic stations as “Latin versions of the American media.” On one hand, radio stations that broadcast in Spanish are making information available to those that either don’t understand English well enough- something pretty common in Miami- or just feel more comfortable with Spanish.
After all, there are almost 13,000 different K’s and W’s spread throughout this land, but only five percent carry the idiom of Gabriel Garc