At A Glance

IF YOU’VE CONSIDERED Boston’s Spanish-language media options over the past couple of years, your first impression may have been that there wasn’t much to choose from, nor any surprises.

But changes are afoot in the nation’s 23rd largest Hispanic market, including some inroads from Clear Channel (CC). On Dec. 21, the media conglomerate flipped AMs WKOX and WXKS from progressive talk to tropical La Nueva Rumba. CC’s Rafael “Raffy” Contigo led the charge, opting for salsa, merengue and reggaeton to attract the area’s largely Puerto Rican and Dominican audience. Contrary to airing standard CC network feeds, the market’s first full-power Hispanic radio station focuses on local DJs and programming, with Contigo himself hosting a weekday morning drive show.

Costa Eagle Broadcasting’s tropical WNNW-AM has long emphasized local radio programming as well and recently increased its signal strength to cover the North Shore and Merrimack Valley, which will further cement its foothold against the newcomer, says GM John Bassett. Greater Boston’s Latino residents are concentrated in Merrimack Valley towns such as Lawrence, Lowell and Haverhill, he explains, and The Eagle-Tribune paper of the valley has a 49 percent stake in the company.

The 24-hour WNNW was the only Hispanic station to rank (24th) in Arbitron’s general-market summer 2006 survey. Costa’s second Spanish-language station is a daypower only: WCEC-AM provides local news and talk content. Other Hispanic programming in Greater Boston is available through a few small, daypower stations that lease airtime.

Hispanic TV in the area also has a newcomer: Azteca America’s WFXZ Channel 24 launched in September. The station recently upgraded to a 90kW signal and is in talks with Comcast to be carried on the cable provider, according to GM Randy Weigner.

At 15, Entravision’s WUNI-TV Univision affiliate is the market’s oldest Spanish-language TV station and the only local news provider, with a weekday 6 p.m. half-hour newscast. Entravision’s joint sales agreement with Univision includes the WUTF-TV TeleFutura affiliate. Both are full-power and have carriage on basic cable, DISH and DIRECTV. WUNI also has cable carriage throughout Rhode Island on Cox Cable, says the stations’ GM Alex von Lichtenberg. Telemundo has two stations with national feeds: The NBC-owned WNEU-TV is operated by ZGS Broadcasting, which also owns Telemundo low-power WTMU.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Hispanics represent 6.8 percent of the Boston DMA’s 5.7 million residents, or 388,000 people. That’s a healthy population to support its three Spanish-language papers. Hispanic News Press, with offices in Brookline, Mass., and Caracas, Venezuela, founded the free weekly tabloid El Planeta in May 2004, with editions in Boston, Lawrence and Providence, R.I., and a 5,000 controlled circ. By fall 2005, the newspaper had grown to 40,000, added a Worcester edition and Phoenix Media/Communications Group, parent company of The Boston Phoenix arts and entertainment weekly, purchased a 35 percent stake in El Planeta. Ad pages have shot up 20 percent over two years ago. Today, its 65,000 circ is divided between the four editions, with 30,000 copies to Boston, 20,000 to Providence and the remainder evenly distributed to Lawrence/Lowell and Worcester.

Established in 1972, the 30,000-circ El Mundo is the oldest Hispanic paper in New England. The bilingual tabloid weekly is distributed across 21 towns in eastern Massachusetts and has a 25-cent cover price.

Pedro Nicolás Cuenca, a local multimedia powerhouse, offers the La Semana free weekly tabloid (15,000 circ in 18 Massachusetts and Rhode Island towns), as well as 30 hours of local programming (CuencaVision) simulcast over TV (WCEA-TV Channel 58 and Comcast Broadband Channel 26) and a radio show weekday mornings on WRCA-AM.