Will Multicultural Gen Z Revitalize Hispanic Radio?

At the recent Hispanic Radio Conference, ThinkNow Multicultural Insights Leader Mario Xavier Carrasco participated in a panel discussion where industry experts and enthusiasts gathered to ponder the future of Hispanic radio.
The enthusiasm in the room was infectious, underscoring a collective belief that the industry is on the brink of a significant transformation. The key takeaway was clear for Carrasco.
“To capture the hearts and minds of Gen Z, Hispanic radio must innovate while staying true to its cultural roots,” he says in the following column:



By Mario X. Carrasco

Hispanic Radio Offers Cultural Connection

When Sirius Satellite Radio hit the airwaves in the early 200s, it disrupted traditional broadcast radio, and over the years, the technology has only improved. Consumers can now enjoy their favorite music genres on dedicated channels with clear reception and options to limit or eliminate ads entirely. However, what satellite radio lacks, broadcast radio excels in – longevity, real-time engagement and a strong community focus. In short, broadcast radio offers authenticity, and consumers are paying attention, particularly young multicultural consumers seeking authentic connections.

Many Gen Zers are gravitating towards platforms, like radio, that reflect the intersectionality of their cultural identities. According to the Pew Research Center, young Hispanics comprise approximately 25% of the Gen Z population in the U.S. This generation, deeply influenced by Latino culture, is embracing their heritage unapologetically, including those predominantly English-speaking—a notable percentage, according to Pew. Radio has a tremendous opportunity to engage this demographic on an accessible platform that meets them where they are culturally and economically. Broadcast radio is free.

Multicultural Gen Z Embraces Nostalgia

You only need to scroll through your TikTok feed to witness how deeply Gen Z embraces nostalgia. The same ’80s and ’90s songs that resonated with you in high school are now the soundtrack to today’s youth’s experiences. Among Hispanic youth, in particular, this nostalgia extends to the revival of traditional music genres like corridos. A joint study by Orci and ThinkNow revealed a remarkable surge in corrido popularity, with Spotify reporting a staggering 400% increase in regional Mexican music streams. This trend underscores a broader craving for connection and authenticity, values that Hispanic radio uniquely satisfies.

Radio stations can cultivate a loyal and engaged audience by leveraging popular tools like social media not just for promotion but as a platform for interactive video content and exclusive behind-the-scenes experiences. This approach aligns with research indicating that younger audiences prefer immersive media experiences beyond traditional formats.

Hispanic Radio Bi-lingual Strategies

The renewed interest in Hispanic Radio has led to new initiatives to serve the diversity within the Hispanic community. This includes integrating English-format shows featuring Spanish music, reflecting the bilingual and bicultural reality of many young Hispanics who effortlessly navigate between English and Spanish daily. By blending languages and cultural elements, radio stations can offer their listeners a more inclusive and relatable experience. However, this strategy presents both a challenge and an opportunity. Whoever pioneers this approach is poised to capture significant market share. Those who do not could be left behind.

Next Steps for the Industry

The data speaks volumes. The growing demand for Hispanic music genres like corridos reflects significant cultural shifts. Now is the opportune moment for Hispanic radio stations to embrace innovative strategies that amplify culture-forward programming, fostering a platform for cultural expression and community connection. Hispanic radio is more than a broadcasting medium—it is a cultural beacon for a generation eager to reconnect with their heritage and celebrate its identity.



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