July 18, 2008

Radio Bilingüe’s Hacia el Voto 2008 sets sights on live coverage of presidential conventions

The nation’s growing Latino voting population – experiencing its greatest surge yet – will get a close up look at the upcoming national presidential nominating conventions when Radio Bilingüe dispatches a multi-media news team to Colorado in August and Minnesota in September for special gavel-to-gavel coverage on its award-winning daily talk show, Línea Abierta.

As part of its year-long Hacia el Voto 2008 series, Radio Bilingüe’s’ special team of reporters and producers will broadcast live from the Democratic National Convention in Denver from Aug. 25-28, followed by live coverage of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul from Sept. 1-4.

A special, two-hour extended edition will air at noon, Pacific Time, Monday through Thursday each week. Coverage of both political events will culminate with a two-hour live broadcast of the two nominee’s acceptance speeches on the final evening of each convention (projected time: 6 PM Pacific).

The special team will include news reporters from Hacia el Voto 2008 series partners WRTE-FM, Radio Arte, in Chicago, and KDNA-FM Radio Cadena in Granger, WA.

During the two conventions, Radio Bilingüe will air more than ten hours of direct news coverage, including conversations with delegates, party officials, seasoned journalists, political experts and community advocates.

The coverage will be multimedia with, in addition to the radio airwaves, extensive service online: news transcripts, webcast, podcast, audio on demand, photo galleries, blog and more.

“These special programs will include news stories on developments on the convention floor, rallies outside the convention center, keynote address speeches and acceptance speeches by the presidential candidates,” said Samuel Orozco, Línea Abierta executive producer and host.

The convention coverage builds on Radio Bilingüe’s decades-long tradition covering elections from the Latino perspective, including its first-of-a-kind, live, bilingual broadcast of the national presidential conventions in 1984 and a subsequent, extensive coverage in Spanish in 2004.

Latino political development has increased in recent years as issues affecting the Latino community take center stage. The fast surge of naturalized Latinos during the past decade and the emerging numbers of 18-year-old has moved the Latino voter base into taking a more active role, Orozco said.

“Opinion polls show Latino voters are highly concerned about the failing economy, the war in Iraq, health care access, school dropout rates and immigration reform,” he said. “Radio Bilingüe will bring those issues to the forefront of our special election coverage.”

Studies by the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute based at the University of Southern California show that 9.3 million Latinos are projected to vote this year with a substantial number bilingual. The 2000 US Census shows that of the 8 million adult US citizens who said they don’t speak English very well, 4.5 million speak Spanish. And, according to surveys, 3 out of 4 who spoke Spanish at home use bilingual ballots.

“This electorate relies on Spanish language news media to participate politically and make an informed decision at the polls,” Orozco said. “Yet, listeners often complain about the lack of serious electoral news coverage on corporate Spanish-language broadcast media. There is a critical need for in-depth, timely news in Spanish for this electorate.”

The year-long Hacia el Voto 2008 election series began airing in January in Chicago through “Linea Abierta on the Road” — a special itinerant series originating from the home site of partnering stations throughout the nation. Radio Bilingüe’s news team has made stops in eight cities and aired 15 shows in collaboration with local public media outlets.

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