In a response to the rapid growth of the U.S. Hispanic population and the limited radio choices within that market, Clear Channel Radio has announced an aggressive initiative to flip 20-25 stations to

In a response to the rapid growth of the U.S. Hispanic population and the limited radio choices within that market, Clear Channel Radio has announced an aggressive initiative to flip 20-25 stations to Spanish-language programming during the next 12-18 months.

The stations, located in markets of all sizes, will mirror the communities they serve, encompassing regional Mexican, tropical and pop formats.

The first station to change under the new plan was WWVA Atlanta, which jettisoned its talk format and relauched Sept. 16 as "Viva 105.3."

"A lot of people think [the] Hispanic [format] is a Southwestern or Southeastern phenomenon, but it really is a national phenomenon," Clear Channel Radio CEO John Hogan tells Billboard.biz. "In markets all across the country, there are significant Hispanic populations, and they are growing very fast. Yet the services and choices for those populations are very limited. We think we have at least 25 opportunities to compete in that market and do very, very well."

Alfredo Alonso, formerly vice chairman and president/CEO of Mega Communications, a 20-station Spanish-language radio group, has been named Clear Channel senior VP of Hispanic Radio, based in New York. Alonso is credited with creating the "Mega" and "La X" format concepts and founding the Radio Y Musica trade publication.

"While the strides made in serving the Hispanic radio market have been significant to date, this represents an evolution in Spanish-language radio," Alonso says. "My focus will be on identifying opportunities to bring Spanish-language radio formats to all [sizes of] markets, with unique radio stations that are as diverse as the Hispanic market itself."

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