Bridging the divide
More solutions to serve bilingual audiences with public media broadcasts
Last OIGO, I wrote a provocative essay on the potential for bilingual content on English-only/majority broadcasts. 🏠 I received a lot of thoughtful ideas and responses. Many agreed with the missed opportunity. Others highlighted orgs doing well in this area. Some critiqued the idea with very compelling arguments.
Credit to Holly Kernan, who recommended taking it further in this newsletter. ☝🏽 Let’s talk solutions.
Here’s where I think we all tend to agree. Historically, public media has largely served those who speak English. 🗣️ As the demographics of our country continue to change, there is an increasing need for public media organizations to consider opportunities to serve bilingual audiences. We all are in a space of figuring out how we do it,
Many of you reading are like me. You may see why it is important for public media organizations to serve diverse audiences. You may see it as a matter of democracy to ensure that all people have access to news and information, and to be inclusive of all language groups. 💬 Perhaps you see that serving bilingual audiences can help public media organizations expand their reach and better engage with communities. You might also see how serving bilingual audiences can help public media organizations fulfill their mission of educating and informing the public.
If that’s accurate, then chances are you are like me in trying to figure this out, too. Making content accessible; determining the differing needs and interests of bilingual listeners, readers and viewers; and finding the time and financial resources to experiment with what we do well and to try new things to best meet the needs of bilingual audiences is daunting for all of us. 👇🏾
Here are a few successes to consider. 🔥
According to CPB, at least 77 public media stations in 30 states offer Spanish-language programming. In addition, there are many public media programs that are seeking to address the interests of bilingual audiences. A few examples come to mind:
Radio Ambulante shares brilliant stories in Spanish, and in English.
Code Switch covers race in a way intended to be authentic to the story.
The BBC offers to stations a number of services in different languages, including Spanish. (American Public Media is your connect there.)
PBS programming, including its children’s offerings, has many presentations where Spanish is spoken.
There are a few ways I’m thinking about addressing the topic. There is also a lot of work I am inspired by. 📖
The power of partnering with other organizations that serve similar audiences cannot be underestimated. Groups like Factchequeado and working relationships with local Spanish-language media orgs have benefitted many public media outlets. 📱 While I have not talked with funders (yet) about it, I expect a strong alliance could boost both funding and distribution. By lifting each other’s profile and work, I expect partnerships may serve bilingual audiences.
I’m watching endeavors aimed at establishing trust and credibility when serving bilingual audiences. 📻 Seeing public media get into areas such as rolling coverage of emergencies (see Texas Public Radio’s Uvalde shooting reporting) and election education (see KQED among others) is encouraging. Public media has been better in trying to be more sensitive to the cultures and communities we serve, though there is more to go.
As far as the core of my initial remarks on bilingual public media broadcasting, it is important to consider how and where the work is happening. 🧭 Bilingual service is complex. If your organization is taking it slow and trying to figure it out, there are a number of ways to create bilingual radio broadcasts. Ideas on the board include having bilingual hosts, using translation services, or creating dual-language programs. Whichever approach is used, I’m thinking about the creative approaches stations can take, particularly when resources to execute are not as full as they may need to be.
In addition, I’m trying to get my head around underutilized broadcast properties, such as HD Radio. HD Radio has been awesome for Urban Alternative. Could it work for bilingual broadcasting? 👉🏽 Sidebar: Urban Alternative suggests that using HD Radio for a Hispanic-focused service need not be exclusively news/talk.
And yes, while the HD Radio platform has limited reach, is the play to use HD Radio as the framework, while pitching it to audiences to listen online or via an app? 🤔
I am sensitive to public media’s unique challenges in connecting with bilingual audiences. 🔗 But my intent isn’t as important as we together making an impact. I believe many of us feel bilingual radio broadcasts may help to bridge this gap and provide non-native English speakers with access to important news, information, and entertainment. For those listeners, though, there may be cultural barriers and a lack of feeling seen by public media.
Some public broadcasters are working diligently to foster more effective strategies for meeting the needs of their bilingual listeners. 🎧 It takes time, however.
I am optimistic about public broadcasters that are trying to find ways of bringing bilingual audiences to public media. 👍🏽 More public media organizations than ever seem to be employing outreach strategies such as using social media or other digital platforms to increase engagement with bilingual audiences. How might we extend that to broadcast? I’m curious. And finally, efforts such as NPR’s bilingual news content have to be acknowledged for opening up broadcast avenues for stations.
Thanks for coming along on this journey. I’d love your thoughts on how we make public broadcasting most inclusive. 🟢
Próximamente en su inbox 📧
The next OIGO is March 31. 👀 Maria (Lopez) Twena, Chief Marketing Officer of Nuestra.TV and veteran Hispanic marketing leader, joins us to talk about the on-demand ecosystem and what commercial media knows about speaking to Latino audiences. You’re sure to learn a ton next newsletter.
I don’t do paid subs or memberships for OIGO. Wild, because I’d like to bring on editors! 🚀 You can buy me a coffee if you’d like to support accelerating OIGO! I actually don’t buy coffee with it; I’m saving it for the newsletter.
Cafecito: stories to discuss ☕
The White House announced it will nominate Felix Sanchez to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting board. ⚖️ Current has more.
Radio Impacto 2, dubbed “the official voice of Ecuadorians in New York,” faces $2.5 million in FCC fines for broadcasting without a license. It has allegedly been a pirate station since 2008. 😲 Radio World offers details.
CJR has a fantastic essay by the creator of the Texas Writers Byline Scan, an annual demographic survey of Texas-based quarterly, bimonthly, and monthly print magazines. 🍏 “[Critics] argue that numbers don’t show the full picture of whether or how newsrooms are safe and supportive places... But it’s hard to imagine how to pursue the deeper work of improving industry conditions for marginalized journalists without some kind of baseline.”
Fentanyl smuggling from Mexico is disinformation with a long history of racism aimed at Hispanics. 😦 Daily Kos reports on how some activists are dispelling mischaracterizations while not amplifying them.
The Christian Science Monitor offers a good look at the fight over Spanish-language talk radio. 🎙️ (Thanks to Ethan Toven-Lindsey for the spot.)
El radar: try this 📡
Talk about Latino college enrollment for Spring Break. 🎒 Boise State Public Radio put a local spin on a new survey tracking the rise of Hispanic young people admitted to colleges and universities. This is a story that virtually every public media org might consider as a way of engaging this audience.
Investigate opinions on border policy. Houston Public Media reports on a new Rice University study focused on this. Strict border regulations and coverage of immigration, it turns out, have done little to alter undocumented passage into the United States. 🚌 How do your audiences feel about this?
Does your state take soot seriously? The Hill notes Latino/a communities are adversely impacted at disproportionate rates by fine particulate matter in the air. With the EPA accepting comments on new regs until March 28, your outlet has a chance to find out how regional Hispanic and environmental nonprofits are addressing this topic. ☁️
See about Latinos in nonprofit leadership. ⬇️ CapRadio shares the results of a Sacramento study that points out a lack of Latinx nonprofit leadership. How are your area nonprofits faring in recruiting diverse leaders?
Check on Latine evangelicals in your state. Florida’s new laws have sparked fresh activism among Hispanic religious communities. ⛪ Are immigration policies prompting churches in your town to engage in this issue?
¡Hasta la proxima a las 31 de marzo!