ARIZONA DAILY STAR
The cancellation of a long-running Spanish-language
program by the University of Arizona's National Public Radio affiliate last
month has alienated some loyal listeners and prompted a local Hispanic
coalition to push for its return.
John Kelley, station manager at KUAZ (89.1-FM and 1550-AM)
blamed the demise of "Radio Universidad" on low ratings. "We knew after many
years we did not have very many Spanish-speaking listeners," he said.
For 25 years, the two-hour program explored education,
immigration, legal affairs and other topics of interest to Spanish-speakers
Members of the Spanish-speaking community have questioned the
station's decision to cancel the show, saying it flies in the face of the
university's efforts to reach out to the area's growing Hispanic community.
Frank Felix, president of the Tucson Hispanic Coalition, said
the program was an educational show that was unparalleled in Southern
Arizona. "It was extremely significant for our community in this global
economy and global society," he said.
The coalition, which represents 24 local organizations, has
requested a meeting with station management. The group is seeking a
long-term commitment from KUAZ to better serve Hispanic listeners, Felix
Jack Parris, director and general manager of KUAT
Communications Group, said he received the coalition's March 31 letter on
Wednesday. Although he plans to meet with the group to discuss its concerns,
Parris said the station will not bring back the Spanish-language show.
The coalition seems to be under the impression that KUAZ has
eliminated all its Spanish-language programming, Parris said, which is not
The new KUAZ now includes "Radio Reflexiones," a 30-minute
bilingual co-production with KUAT-TV that airs every Sunday at 6:30 p.m.,
and Latino USA, an English-language program produced from a Latino
The KUAT Communications Group includes KUAZ, KUAT-FM and
public television station KUAT-TV, Channel 6.
Francisco Marmolejo, executive director of the North American
Higher Education Collaboration at the UA, said the new radio program does
not sufficiently address the needs of Tucson's Hispanic community.
"There is a lot of room for improvement," said Marmolejo.
Hector Gonzalez, executive producer of "Radio Reflexiones,"
said he agrees with critics of the new show that it could be better. "We've
just begun; this is a work in progress."
The bilingual show may disappoint listeners who preferred the
Spanish-only format, he said, but the format aims to reach a wider audience.
Gonzalez, a veteran of bilingual broadcasts who also produces
its sister television show, said his long-term goal is for "Radio
Reflexiones" to provide Hispanics increased access to the university
Manager Kelley said it will take time to know whether the new
weekend schedule, which includes NPR programming like "Wait, Wait … Don't
Tell Me!"; "To The Best of Our Knowledge," "Fresh Air Weekend," "All Things
Considered," "Justice Talking" and "Latino USA," is attracting more
So far, Kelley said, he has received just 15 complaints via
phone and e-mail since "Radio Universidad" was canceled in February,
compared with 700 e-mails when the station replaced its weekday jazz
programming with extended news in 2003.
He said the station, which gets most of its funding from
listener donations, cannot afford to have "low listenership and little
Lisa Teran, 32, who speaks Spanish and English fluently, is
one of the listeners upset over the loss of "Radio Universidad." For years,
she tuned in every Sunday afternoon to listen to UA educators and other