In August of 2007, Latino leaders and their allies from public radio gathered in Boulder, Colorado to develop strategies that would significantly increase Latino participation in public broadcasting. The meeting was convened by the National Federation of Community Broadcasters (NFCB) and was underwritten by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).
This group emerged from the meeting as the Latino Public Radio Consortium (LPRC) and positioned itself as a leader advocating for Latinos working in or listening to public media. Founders of the LPRC became its initial Board of Directors. They were Silvia Rivera, Raul Ramirez, Hugo Morales, Victor Montilla, Florence Hernandez-Ramos and Ginny Berson.
The LPRC developed a document that outlined the ways in which the public media system could better serve Latino audiences. This document was the Brown Paper, finalized in early 2008 and distributed throughout the public broadcasting system.
With this call to action, the LPRC entered a new stage, inviting both Latinos and non-Latinos to increase the involvement of Latinos in public radio. The LPRC recognized that to become a sustainable entity and achieve its goals, a high level of leadership and coordination was crucial. It turned to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for support. With CPB’s assistance, in May 2008 the LPRC hired Florence Hernandez-Ramos as Project Director and began developing a strategic plan.
The birth of the Latino Public Radio Consortium in 2007 was the culmination of a long history of hard work, determination and persistent efforts to involve Latinos in public broadcasting.
The foundation of the work has always been the efforts of those that organized, founded and have kept functioning the Latino-controlled public radio stations in the mainland U.S. and Puerto Rico. Numerous Latino producers (future section) over the years have kept the culture and news of the Latino community alive through current and historic programs such as Latino USA, Panorama Hispano, Faces, Mirrors, Masks, Noticiero Latino, Caliente and more.
But what has been lacking is an organization that harnesses all this momentum and talent and presents it on the national level. What has been missing is a consistent representation of the Latino perspective at national policy meetings, in funding decisions, in charting the course for extending public media to include more Latinos.
For a short period of time in the 1980’s Western Community Bilingual Radio (WCBR) served this function. Based out of California, it was able to shepherd the energy and resources to establish more Latino-controlled public radio stations. With its demise, however, Latinos in public radio had to act in a more piecemeal fashion, ensuring their stations survived locally and at the same time trying to act globally. To the detriment of the national interests of Latinos this divided focus had limited success.
The LPRC intends to refocus the national spotlight on the talent of the Latino community and its willingness to contribute to the public radio system to make it robust, exciting and inclusive.