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'Quixote' Crusades For Rock En Español


July 3, 2001
Copyright © 2001 THE MIAMI HERALD. All Rights Reserved.

``Some people have called me Quixote,'' Kike Posada says with pride.

The bespectacled 33-year-old magazine publisher and radio DJ hardly looks the part of Cervantes' principled but impractical old Don. Consider Posada's crusade, though, and the similarities surface: He is the only local DJ championing a radical music format, rock en Español, in one of the most conservative industries, Spanish-language radio, in one of the nation's largest Spanish-language media markets, South Florida.

``The hardest thing is to make a living from this,'' Posada says.

That's because Spanish-language radio's three narrowly defined formats -- Mexican regional, tropical/Caribbean and contemporary pop/ballads -- leave no room for much of the innovative Latin music that has emerged in recent years.

Posada recently resurrected Miami's only rock en Español show, ¡Boom! Radio, which airs 8-10 nightly on WKAT-AM (1360). The show, he says, is the exception to Latin radio's strict format rules.

``Latin radio is basically still the fortress of Cuban programmers,'' says Posada, a Colombian. ``I don't have anything against Cubans. But now's the time to realize that musical tastes in general and artistic expression is different than it was 40 years ago.''

Yet others in the radio industry remain unconvinced rock en Español is a viable commercial entity. Bill Tanner, vice president of programming for Miami-based Spanish Broadcasting System, which owns 19 stations, is one of many who say the genre has not yet built an audience large enough to support its own commercial station.


Still, South Florida's Hispanic population has swelled in the past three years with many young immigrants from Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina and other South American countries. But when it comes to representing this diversity on radio, the song remains the same.

``The city is growing so much with these demographics,'' Posada says. ``Drive around North Miami Beach, drive around Doral, drive around Kendall. You see people who came here a week ago and are planning on staying, planning on starting a new life here.

``And every time, without fail, you hear the same comment, always the same comment: `What's going on with radio? Isn't Miami supposed to be the capital of Latin America? Isn't it like what we've always heard? We expect to hear an international format, hear all accents, all cultures.' ''

As a result, the diverse line-up of a recent ¡Boom! Radio program resembled the arrival gate at Miami International Airport. Estopa, a band from Spain, led the list, followed by Puya of Puerto Rico, Mexico's Jaguares, Colombia's Aterciopelados and Los Rabanes of Panama.

When ¡Boom! Radio debuted on Miami's Radio Ritmo (WRTO-FM [98.3]) in 1993, it was believed to be the nation's first radio program devoted to rock en Español. The program hop-scotched around South Florida's radio dial until it was canceled in 1998, only to resurface June 18 on WKAT.

Posada hasn't limited his promotion of the format to radio, however. Five years ago he launched ¡Boom! Magazine, which he co-publishes with his wife, Linda Carta, 25, a Venezuelan immigrant. Published 10 times a year, the nationally distributed magazine has a circulation of 25,000 -- most of that in California.


The other windmill Posada faces in his quixotic Latin rock crusade is Miami's putative music scene, which makes it difficult to develop artists or influence the range of Latin sounds people hear here.

``For the most part, the Florida market, especially the Miami market . . . it's not really a music consuming market,'' Posada says. ``We're in a market where records are . . . for export. Distributors will tell you that.

``The importance of Miami is it's like a monitor city, where things happen and they have repercussions in other cities.''

And though rock en Español thrives on the West Coast, Posada chooses to live in Miami because that's where the major Latin labels are.

``You've got the market over there but you've got the industry here,'' he says. ``You need a place where you can monitor the industry but also have your senses over there.''

So while Los Angeles has proven more receptive to new genres of Latin music, it is less accommodating of diverse of Hispanic cultures, Posada says.

``Even if I was in L.A., I feel that it's also a closed community there,'' he says. ``Either you're Mexican or you're from the South. It's hard to be something different. In Miami, you could be anything and still you feel right about it.''

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