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Should Country stations specifically chase Hispanics?

[As a result of a research study aimed at recruiting more Hispanics into the Country format, Edison Research president Larry] Rosin recommended country radio start outreach programs in the Hispanic community, advertise on Spanish TV, place Spanish language outdoor campaigns in Spanish neighborhoods, and even develop Spanish HD side channels or streams. Music Row can do their part, too, says Rosen, by teaming up a major Hispanic artist with a top-tier country star, creating Spanish language versions of major country songs and providing salsa and other Spanish flavored mixes of big songs. [Note: I know Larry, I worked with Larry, and he’s a great guy and a terrific researcher]

While this may be true it strikes me as pretty intuitive, even obvious.

And it also strikes me as potentially all for nothing.

What makes Hispanics of any greater concern to the Country format than, say, teenagers or African Americans or, for that matter, New Yorkers?

Could this concern be caused by the shrinking market for Country radio in some of the nation’s largest markets – which are also some of the nation’s largest Hispanic markets? Why, yes it could.

In other words, this is a research problem suggested not by a natural market appetite but by a perceived need by the Country radio establishment.

Where, for example, is the study about how to get more African Americans interested in Rock? Or more Rush Limbaugh fans interested in Air America? Or more pagans into Christian radio?

Sometimes, the answer to these questions is simply: You can’t.

Sometimes certain natural groups of listeners gravitate to what they gravitate to. And your job is to be in the right place with the right format. Not to seduce a round peg into a square hole.

Remember, sometimes tailoring your round hole to a square peg means even the round pegs stop fitting.

Our job as marketers and programmers isn’t to sell ethnic audiences on Country radio, it’s to find out what audiences want and deliver it to them, no matter what it is.

You don’t go fishing in “cold” zip codes, now do you?

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invest in Hispanic TV or reach out to Hispanic communities. It just means that in a world of finite marketing and programming resources, you can’t have everything.

Especially the folks who don’t want to be had.

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