5 Questions With Stephanie Valencia


Earlier this month Latino Media Networks made a big splash in radio with the purchase of 18 radio stations in 10 cities from TelevisaUnivision in a $60 million all cash deal. The co-founder of the new company is Stephanie Valencia.

Valencia is an entrepreneur, public servant, and author. She has held leadership roles at venture capital funds, Google, the federal government, and the United States Congress.

Valencia co-founded LMN with Jess Morales Rocketto which is being backed with $80 million in funding from Lakestar Finance, an investment entity affiliated with Soros Fund Management.

Valencia was in Miami last week at the Radio Ink Hispanic Radio Cnference where we had an opportunity to interview her about her plans for the company.

Radio Ink: Why did you launch Latino Media Network?
Valencia: Latino Media Network is a content creation and distribution company that is intended to help Latinos make sense of the world and their place in it. There’s an ocean of information that Latinos are navigating in the world today and they are looking for trusted voices, messengers and platforms to make sense of the world. Radio is an important part of that, which is why we acquired 18 radio stations but is beyond radio. YouTube is an important platform and other digital services are places where Latino’s are consuming information about the news and other topics and how they fit in relation to that. So building Latino Radio Network is creating a platform for us to provide additional sources of news and information for Latinos while we are also able to tell our stories.

Stephanie Valencia and Radio Ink Publisher Deborah Parenti

Radio Ink: One thing we’ve heard a lot of is that Latinos are on the receiving end of a lot of misinformation. How are they getting misinformation and how are they being targeted?
Valencia: I think part of the challenge is we see fewer news sources rather than more news and information sources. One of the primary antidotes to misinformation or disinformation is making sure there are plenty of access points for people to compare news sources, hear multiple opinions and form their own choices. In a world where minority media ownership and specifically Latino media ownership is on the decline, it is more important that we create more platforms for news and information so people can make their own decisions based on more data points.

Radio Ink; What do you think you will do with the formats of the 18 stations you purchased?
Valencia: It’s a long road. First we have to get FCC approval, then we will go into an LMA with Univision where they will continue to operate the stations for a while. It’s a little premature to say what we will do with the formats. However everything we’re going to be doing is going to be looking at our principles, which is how are we looking at audience growth, how we are looking at other platforms to help us think about cross platform promotional approach around YouTube and other digital platforms to reach more people with more content. You may get a very different consumer on radio than you do on YouTube. There may be some interesting overlap in regards to that. There will be a lot of testing and innovation to see what actually works and the kind of programming people want. The stations we’ve acquired, there’s a lot of room for growth in terms of audience and ratings and programming. We want to do that from a research and data perspective as well.

Radio Ink: Why do you think the purchase of these stations was attacked by conservatives?
Valencia: Overall the attention we received is because there’s a huge acknowledgment about the role Latino’s are playing in this country today, whether that’s participation or as consumers or how we’re shifting and changing culture in this country. There is a new attention being paid to that so any kind of deal at this scale and size, one that was record breaking for Latino entrepreneurs and also on the scale of what we acquired is certainly going to garner some attention. I don’t know why conservatives are particularly focused on this and specifically related to Radio Mombi (which is backed by Cuban exiles). Our shared goal is to make sure Radio Mombi stays in the spirit of what it has been to the Cuban American community for a long time, a place for debate and open conversation about what’s happening on the island and Cuba policy. More broadly it has been an important light in the community to have that conversation here in South Florida but also to share that information on the island. The signal reaches the island in certain parts of Cuba. It’s important to continue to ensure the spirit is maintained.

Radio Ink: Radio owns the conservative right side of the debate. Are you planning to turn your stations to the liberal side of the political debate?
Valencia: No and we are not intending for this to be political in the Democratic and Republican sense of the word. Part of what we want this to do is build empowerment for Latinos. Radio is an important platform to help shift the sense of our own identity and belonging in this county. Part of the challenge we have as Latino’s isn’t that people don’t see us, in fact we’re invisible in a lot of cases to many different people but that we don’t see ourselves as being influential or that we don’t belong here. That we feel like guests here in this country. So part of the notion of our own ability to create power and empowerment among Latinos is our own ability to see ourselves as belonging here and being influential as well.


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