Spain’s new El Puente radio station bridges Eagle County’s cultural divide
Pauline Araujo Agoitia, director and host of the new Spanish radio station for the valley 102.1 El Puente, likes to tell stories.
She told a story on Wednesday about young women cooking a ham with their grandmother, and to grandmother’s surprise, they started cutting the sides of the ham.
When their grandmother asked them why they would do this, the women replied that as children they had always seen her do the same. They wanted to prepare the ham like she did, they explained.
“And she said, ‘It’s because I didn’t have a pan big enough to hold the ham,” “Araujo Agoitia said, laughing.
Bridging the gap
This story is simple and “a little silly,” said Araujo Agoitia, but it shows how the lack of communication leaves room for guesswork.
In the case of the Eagle River Valley, the lack of communication and connection between residents who speak English and those who speak Spanish did just that, she said.
“A big part of our disconnection right now is because we don’t know each other,” she said. “And so, what we don’t know, we’re afraid. “
With this disconnect, a conversation in another language breeds the assumption that someone is talking about you and a disengaged or calm parent breeds the assumption that the parent doesn’t care, Araujo Agoitia said.
This problem and the possibility of solving it led to the launch of the valley’s newest Spanish radio station, 102.1 El Puente. The station is now under new ownership after Steve Leigh finalized a deal this week to buy the three stations from Rocky Mountain Radio Group to create KNS Broadcasting.
Leigh, a former morning DJ with KZYR The Zephyr, secured ownership of KZYR as well as The Mile and El Puente on Wednesday, he said.
He said he was proud of El Puente’s mission, which seeks to bridge cultural and generational divides.
“The name says it all in the sense that it’s a bridge,” Leigh said.
El Puente, which means “the bridge” in Spanish, serves a local population traditionally underserved by other radio stations, Leigh said, and a growing population, Araujo Agoitia said.
Hispanic or Latinx residents make up 30% of Eagle County, according to the US Census Bureau. In Avon, that figure is 40%, and in Gypsum, 35%.
These numbers are considered a poor indicator of the actual percentage of the population who identify as Hispanic or Latinx, given some instances of reluctance to share information with the US Census Bureau.
“Music that brings back memories”
The story of Eagle County cannot be told without Latin immigrants and Spanish speakers, but immense social and cultural divisions remain, said Araujo Agoitia.
“We’re not going anywhere, we’re staying here,” she said. “We are part of this community… So, again, we have to bridge this gap. “
The station was launched Jan. 28 by Rocky Mountain Radio Group after former owner Gary Schwedt, whose mother is Mexican, saw the need to bring people together in his community, Araujo Agoitia said. Schwedt, along with Tony Mauro, started the project.
Leigh described the station as a “local audio gathering place,” community radio as it should be.
The station broadcasts a mix of Latin and pop music with songs from anyone from Bad Bunny to Madonna to Maroon 5 and anywhere from the United States to Mexico to Argentina.
Music that makes you dance or stomp or say “oh yeah, I love this song,” said Araujo Agoitia.
“Music that brings memories,” she said.
El Puente is trendy and speaks to the younger generation, but the mix of the old and the new is very helpful, said Leslie Martinez, who hosts one of the station’s shows.
“I heard the kids say ‘Oh, this music, my mom played it when I was younger,’” Araujo Agoitia said. “It is also about bringing together our different generations.
In this way, the station shares information about Mexico and Latin American culture with those outside, but also helps young Latinxes in the valley reconnect with their homeland, she said. declared.
Martinez hosts a show on El Puente called “Vida Change” every Friday at 12 noon in which she invites residents to come and share their stories and life experiences.
The concept is simple – you don’t have to be someone with a big title or a specific area of expertise, you just have to come talk and be you, she said.
The idea came to him during the COVID-19 pandemic, Martinez said.
“I felt it was important for people to hear other people’s stories because basically we all go through issues, but some of us don’t talk about it,” she said. “We think it’s just us.”
During her time on the air, Araujo Agoitia can be heard interviewing local business owners, elected officials and nonprofit leaders, among others.
She talks to her listeners about everything from social services and public health resources to local sales and soccer tournaments.
Araujo Agoitia was born and raised in Mexico City before coming to the valley as a student on a J-1 visa in 1999, she said.
In many ways, she personifies the mission of the station that she has set for herself. She, like many immigrants in the valley, is invited to explain her culture and how she makes her who she is on a daily basis, she said.
She said she is encouraged by those who share El Puente’s vision of making intercultural connection a shared effort. To her, it feels like a real effort to understand the challenges others face and the experiences, big and small, that make them who they are.
“We’re all humans, we’re all friends, all moms or dads or sisters,” she said. “We can all help each other. We need each other.
Email Kelli Duncan at [email protected]