EDWARDS, Colo. (CBS4) – Eagle County’s newest radio station has set out to elevate voices and connect community members in its growing Latinx and Hispanic community. In Eagle County, census data shows that Hispanic and Latino residents make up 30% of the population, but many in the community believe that population has gone largely unrepresented in the media.
“Traditional media has not done a great job reaching out to a large portion of our population, and I think radio is leading the way, starting to, in North America and reaching out to this native Spanish speaking community,” said Steve Leigh.
In June, Leigh purchased the Rocky Mountain Radio Group’s three stations, and created KNS Broadcasting which includes KZYR The Zephyr, The Mile and El Puente.
El Puente, the Spanish speaking radio station, launched in January of this year.
“El Puente means ‘the bridge.’ I love this country, but I was raised in Mexico City, and I see how we are not all connected in this valley and in general, in the country, and so the idea of El Puente is to bridge our community so that we can be just one,” said Pauline Araujo Agoitia, a DJ for El Puente.
Araujo Agoitia had been working with the former owner to launch El Puente, and when it finally hit the air, she was ecstatic.
“A lot of people don’t speak English, and a lot of people don’t speak Spanish, and there’s half of us that are trying our best to do both, and so as an interpreter in my previous lifetime and an activist a lot of what I do is that, have a voice for the people that don’t have a voice and so it was just a transition role for me to come into radio,” she said.
The station primarily plays Spanish pop hits, but Leigh makes the point, it has to be more than just music.
“I think radio in general needs to be more local. With just music, I don’t think any radio station, any terrestrial radio station, can survive. It has to be connecting with the community with people like Pauline. She’s in the community, in the afternoon and sharing information about what’s going on beyond the music,” said Leigh.
While Araujo Agoitia has a theme of keeping the conversation light, she’s always thinking about building that bridge.
“I feel like there is a lot of cultural background that we don’t know from each other and so we’re intimidated, and so if we meet in the middle of the bridge, we can actually you know, build it,” said Araujo Agoitia.
She will frequently have local guests on to assist in the bridge building mission.
“We had the undersheriff who to me I admire a lot. He’s Mexican too, and he’s number two in the line and so having a conversation with him and trying, not trying, working, he has worked really hard in this community to build or bridge that community so that has been a great,” she said.
She also delivers important news of the day but stays largely away from things she considers unnecessary and depressing.
“I get the information and I kind of act like buffer and be like ‘okay, so how can I present it to my community, that they can actually get the message and actually go or participate,’ and so that is a lot of what we try to do here,” she said.
You can catch El Puente on the air at 102.1 FM in Eagle County or learn more online.
This report was originally posted on Sept. 15.