Eugene radio firm spreading Hispanic foothold

by Joe Mosley, Eugene Register-Guard

Eugene's Churchill Media is expanding the reach of its chain of radio stations as it seeks to claim the Northwest's Hispanic market as its own - or como sus el propios.

"Basically, what we want to do is grow the Hispanic formats (of Churchill-owned stations) throughout the Pacific Northwest," says Paul Danitz, the company's general manager.

Churchill Media announced this week it has purchased radio station KXPD-FM in Portland, is close to completing the purchase of two stations in Yakima, Wash., and plans to acquire a third in Yakima. The chain also is looking for other stations in the region.

"We certainly have feelers out for anybody interested in moving a (radio) property," Danitz says. "First and foremost, we want to look for the Hispanic station that's underdeveloped ... and improve upon it."

Two of the three Yakima stations currently offer Spanish-language broadcasts, as does the Portland station.

Churchill got into the Hispanic radio market almost two years ago with the purchase and reformatting of KXOR 660 AM in Eugene, which became the area's first Spanish-language station. The company also owns KOPT 1600 AM, with a liberal-leaning talk radio format; and CLASS 1450 AM, which broadcasts a musical mix of swing, jazz and standards.

Churchill is owned by Suzanne Arlie, who with her husband, John Musumeci, operates the Eugene-based real estate development firm Arlie & Co.

Sadie Dressekie, the marketing director at Arlie, says the success of Eugene's KXOR - which bills itself as "La X" - has prompted the company to expand its Hispanic radio holdings.

"There's really no other place for folks who want to reach an Hispanic market to go (other than Spanish-language radio stations), to get their message out," Dressekie says.

Despite the cluster of acquisitions to the north, Churchill Media is expected to continue to operate out of Eugene.

Danitz said programing for the growing network of Hispanic stations will originate in Eugene and will include the local station's live morning show with personalities Nelson Zepeda and Nancy Corcuera.

"A lot of the formats and personalities will be developed here in Eugene," says Danitz, who was hired by Churchill in January after working for a chain of Hispanic stations in Texas for the past 20 years.

"As the chain grows, it gets increasingly more attention from the Hispanic singers and groups," he says. "This will give us a chance to bring top-tier (Hispanic) entertainment to Eugene."

Danitz also hopes to add some local content in each market where radio stations are acquired and plans to eventually build a regionwide network for Hispanic news broadcasts.

The company reached agreement last month with Oregon State University to carry all Beaver football games in Eugene, Portland and Yakima, with a Spanish-speaking broadcast team.

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