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Raunchy Radio Goes to War

Melissa Rodriguez

Bronx Journal Staff Writer

Originally published May 2007

Luis Jimenez

On weekday mornings, when you step into a bodega or take a ride in a livery cab, you will usually hear a radio playing El Vacilón de la Mañana aired on New York’s La Mega 97.9 FM.

In the city’s Latino community, it seems that everywhere you go, people are tuned in to the Spanish-language “shock radio” program. But in fact, many Latinos don’t like it. Because of its raunchy material, most Latinos either love it or hate it.

Nevertheless, the ones who love it are many – about a quarter of a million listeners, according to Arbitron Ratings – and that’s enough to make El Vacilón de la Mañana the most popular morning show in the United States.

The show’s creators, Luis Jimenez and Raymond Broussard, known as “Moonshadow,” have crafted a program that includes comedy skits, sexual content, prank calls and news. But all of this has come to an end!

Jimenez has accepted a $5 million deal from Univisión Radio, La Mega’s main competitor. After 13 years on La Mega, Jimenez will have his own morning show called “The Luis Jimenez Show” on Univision’s, La Kalle 105.9.  Although the show is already airing in other cities, Jimenez’s contract with La Mega  will not allow him to go on the air in New York City until January 2008.

Although Jimenez has left La Mega, El Vacilón continues with the same format and with two new hosts. The raunchy programming is now delivered by Juan Carlos and Frankie Jay.

But what happens when Jimenez returns to New York radio next year? Since Jimenez was the mastermind behind El Vacilón’s success, it is more than likely that he will have a similar format.

And so, the question arises: Is there room in New York for two raunchy Latino morning shows?

Some avid listeners of Spanish-language radio are concerned that if both shows will be offering the same type of explicit content, it will be Latinos who will lose.

However, when phone calls were placed to La Mega and The Luis Jimenez show for comments, our calls were not returned.

“I don’t think there should be two programs on the air that will just be explicitly talking about sex,” said Margot Mendez, from Morrisania. “I think we should have more variety on Latino radio stations in the morning.”

Morning radio shows have become a battle ground for its hosts. The best way to get ratings is to be controversial, even shocking.

Yet, in the aftermath of the controversial comment by former CBS morning radio host, Don Imus, towards the female basketball team from Rutgers University, many are beginning to take a closer look at these shows and question whether they are simply an open forum for racism and sexism.

From The Howard Stern show to The Opie & Anthony show to El Vacilón de la Mañana, all of these shows have competed, at one point in time, for the number one slot in the number one market: New York City.  Although El Vacilón without Jimenez still enjoys the number one spot in the radio market, will there be room for another show?

Univisión thinks so. They offered Jimenez a $5 million dollar deal, which sounds like pennies next to the $500 million Howard Stern received from Sirius satellite radio. But for Spanish-language radio, it is indeed a big deal.

Curiously, before Stern landed his deal with Sirius, and the right to say whatever he wants without being fined by the Federal Communications Commission, Stern complained that there is a double standard in how the FCC regulations are applied to Spanish and English language radio stations. On his show, Stern has implied that Spanish stations get away with more, because the FCC doesn’t understand them.

Charging that El Vacilón is a Spanish replica of his show, Stern said he couldn’t believe that the FCC didn’t go after that program just because it was in a different language.

Many have said that the show is an open forum for bigotry with the jokes that are directed towards homosexuals. Jimenez claims that the type of program he does is an opportunity to offend everyone equally.

“I don’t think the show is offensive,” declares Omar Rodriguez from Morris Park. “People should know everything said on the show is for ratings.”

In spite of El Vacilón’s huge number of fans, there are groups such as the National Hispanic Media Coalition, an advocacy group for better representation of Latinos in the mainstream media, who have been on a crusade to have the FCC enforce its regulations on Spanish–language radio.

Is there no one in the FCC that speaks Spanish?  Actually, yes! One! Of the Commission’s 20 investigators,one speaks Spanish – leaving many to believe that this is why Spanish-language radio has gotten away with its raunchy material.

With the growth of Spanish broadcasts, whether on radio or television, it is apparent to many that the FCC must increase the amount of Spanish speaking investigators.

“I think many in the Latino community don’t even know the FCC exists,” claims Lisa Cruz.  “If they did the FCC would be flooded with calls.”

Yet, the FCC says in order to look into any issues of indecency it counts on listeners to bring complaints.

In the end, it will be the Latino community who will determine whether there is enough room in the airwaves for two Spanish-language morning shows.

Regardless of whichever show receives the highest number of listeners, there will always be those who will find the humor on these shows unacceptable and those who find it to be a way to distract themselves from the mundane.

“When I take a passenger in my cab, I usually have the radio on,” said Ramon Alvarez, a livery cab driver in Fordham Avenue. “But when they say they are offended by what’s being said – I have no choice but to turn it off. What I find to be funny, others could see it as offensive.”

On weekday      mornings, when you step into a bodega or take a ride in a livery cab, you will usually hear a radio playing El Vacilón de la Mañana aired on New York’s La Mega 97.9 FM.

In the city’s Latino community, it seems that everywhere you go, people are tuned in to the Spanish-language “shock radio” program. But in fact, many Latinos don’t like it. Because of its raunchy material, most Latinos either love it or hate it.

Nevertheless, the ones who love it are many – about a quarter of a million listeners, according to Arbitron Ratings – and that’s enough to make El Vacilón de la Mañana the most popular morning show in the United States.

The show’s creators, Luis Jimenez and Raymond Broussard, known as “Moonshadow,” have crafted a program that includes comedy skits, sexual content, prank calls and news. But all of this has come to an end!

Jimenez has accepted a $5 million deal from Univisión Radio, La Mega’s main competitor. After 13 years on La Mega, Jimenez will have his own morning show called “The Luis Jimenez Show” on Univision’s, La Kalle 105.9.  Although the show is already airing in other cities, Jimenez’s contract with La Mega  will not allow him to go on the air in New York City until January 2008.

Although Jimenez has left La Mega, El Vacilón continues with the same format and with two new hosts. The raunchy programming is now delivered by Juan Carlos and Frankie Jay.

But what happens when Jimenez returns to New York radio next year? Since Jimenez was the mastermind behind El Vacilón’s success, it is more than likely that he will have a similar format.

And so, the question arises: Is there room in New York for two raunchy Latino morning shows?

Some avid listeners of Spanish-language radio are concerned that if both shows will be offering the same type of explicit content, it will be Latinos who will lose.

However, when phone calls were placed to La Mega and The Luis Jimenez show for comments, our calls were not returned.

“I don’t think there should be two programs on the air that will just be explicitly talking about sex,” said Margot Mendez, from Morrisania. “I think we should have more variety on Latino radio stations in the morning.”

Morning radio shows have become a battle ground for its hosts. The best way to get ratings is to be controversial, even shocking.

Yet, in the aftermath of the controversial comment by former CBS morning radio host, Don Imus, towards the female basketball team from Rutgers University, many are beginning to take a closer look at these shows and question whether they are simply an open forum for racism and sexism.

From The Howard Stern show to The Opie & Anthony show to El Vacilón de la Mañana, all of these shows have competed, at one point in time, for the number one slot in the number one market: New York City.  Although El Vacilón without Jimenez still enjoys the number one spot in the radio market, will there be room for another show?

Univisión thinks so. They offered Jimenez a $5 million dollar deal, which sounds like pennies next to the $500 million Howard Stern received from Sirius satellite radio. But for Spanish-language radio, it is indeed a big deal.

Curiously, before Stern landed his deal with Sirius, and the right to say whatever he wants without being fined by the Federal Communications Commission, Stern complained that there is a double standard in how the FCC regulations are applied to Spanish and English language radio stations. On his show, Stern has implied that Spanish stations get away with more, because the FCC doesn’t understand them.

Charging that El Vacilón is a Spanish replica of his show, Stern said he couldn’t believe that the FCC didn’t go after that program just because it was in a different language.

Many have said that the show is an open forum for bigotry with the jokes that are directed towards homosexuals. Jimenez claims that the type of program he does is an opportunity to offend everyone equally.

“I don’t think the show is offensive,” declares Omar Rodriguez from Morris Park. “People should know everything said on the show is for ratings.”

In spite of El Vacilón’s huge number of fans, there are groups such as the National Hispanic Media Coalition, an advocacy group for better representation of Latinos in the mainstream media, who have been on a crusade to have the FCC enforce its regulations on Spanish–language radio.

Is there no one in the FCC that speaks Spanish?  Actually, yes! One! Of the Commission’s 20 investigators,one speaks Spanish – leaving many to believe that this is why Spanish-language radio has gotten away with its raunchy material.

With the growth of Spanish broadcasts, whether on radio or television, it is apparent to many that the FCC must increase the amount of Spanish speaking investigators.

“I think many in the Latino community don’t even know the FCC exists,” claims Lisa Cruz.  “If they did the FCC would be flooded with calls.”

Yet, the FCC says in order to look into any issues of indecency it counts on listeners to bring complaints.

In the end, it will be the Latino community who will determine whether there is enough room in the airwaves for two Spanish-language morning shows.

Regardless of whichever show receives the highest number of listeners, there will always be those who will find the humor on these shows unacceptable and those who find it to be a way to distract themselves from the mundane.

“When I take a passenger in my cab, I usually have the radio on,” said Ramon Alvarez, a livery cab driver in Fordham Avenue. “But when they say they are offended by what’s being said – I have no choice but to turn it off. What I find to be funny, others could see it as offensive.”

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