Rancho Alegre vs. Para La Gente, Part 1

Wow, judging by the attention we have recently enjoyed from Para La Gente on Facebook, you'd think that we went to the Statesman, KVUE, and picketed the station in a super public way. All we did was express our opinions in our own forums! We didn't angrily send them to Para La Gente, nor did we demand a response. Know why? BECAUSE THEY ARE OUR OPINIONS! That's all! We know that radio stations really don't care what one or two listeners think, even when you send a nastygram directly to the station. Having worked in public broadcasting (radio and television) for several years myself, I know that these things were just part of the deal. In fact, it was even worse because of the "public" part...everyone wants to tell you what to show and when. You can't please everyone, and some people will yell from the mountaintops how much they hate you (yet they continue to watch or listen).

Yet, our blog posts on programming at Austin's only Tejano station were discovered and Para La Gente has felt that it needs to defend itself and to point out that we were being unfair.  Okay, but why? Why do you even care? Especially since, as I said before, we just posted these thoughts on our own blog and shared them on our Facebook page. And our Facebook page has 80 fans. And our website gets a couple hundred hits a month, mostly for our catalog. And yes, it isn't updated frequently, thanks for pointing that out. But then, it doesn't need to be for our business, and at least you can find us online.  And managing this website isn't my primary job. It's not even my second job. Or my third.

But...since I have your attention, here are some suggestions.

Different Media

Skip the website thing for now, since you're being cautious about it.

How about setting up a basic Para La Gente Facebook page like Rancho Alegre has and announce it on-air? It takes 5 minutes. You've spent way more time than that worrying about whether we're being fair and arguing with us, two listeners (granted, we are way above average when it comes to knowledge of music, radio in general, and passion, but still!). In that amount of time, you could have exponentially more fans than we do.

If you want younger listeners, which I believe you do (and should), you have to be accessible electronically. How about a podcast like The Tejano Music Awards has? How about streaming your signal like KXTN (wait, need a website...)? How about sending event announcements like Tejano Ranch?

And the email address on-air? paralagente@austintejas.com? I signed up for it and haven't received anything.

Listen as a Listener

What I sincerely beg of you to do, above all else, is to listen to your station as a listener, not as a radio professional. Then you will understand my point of view. Because a listener is all I am.

I'm sure I would enjoy the roadshows you do on Wednesdays at all the places you go. Hell, I'd dance (well, I'd try, I am white after all :-\), I'd drink, the whole bit. I just don't have time, especially during the week. But, when you listen to these shows on the radio, you lose interest, because the DJ's randomly talking into mic over a song is just irritating to listen to.  I would hear that, if I were there. And it would fit. Now, if you turned off their mics during the song, but cut back to them every 3 or 4 songs, advertising where you are, would suit me perfectly well. I just don't want to hear giggling and "they're having a good time over there!" over one of my favorite songs.  I always change the station. I wanted to hear that Jimmy Gonzalez song, not JK talking over Jimmy Gonzalez and calling out numbers for door prizes. It's distracting. I know it's intended to encourage people to come out, but a lot of us can't or won't. But we do have time to listen to our local Tejano station while we're in the car or working or at home relaxing.

And on Sundays, tune in to Hectorini, and really listen. Really listen. Pay no attention to the money you're getting. I realize it's a paid program and it makes its own money. Which is fine, and if it works for you from a business perspective, excellent. But just because it's paid doesn't mean it's good. Seriously, 7 commercials in 10 seconds, every 3 or 4 songs? And read really, really fast, like the guy who did Micro Machines commercials so many years ago?

And one of the issues that I have with country programming is that it's confusing for the listener. Think of how it is for someone to pull in their driveway at night, listening to DLG, turn off the car, and have the radio station still on 95.1. Then, when they get in the car the next day, they turn it on, and it's...Darius Rucker? Followed by Lady Antebellum? You have to admit that we live in an age where commercial radio stations are bought and sold on a whim and formats can change the next day. So, they might figure that Para La Gente wasn't making it so it got sold and they may never tune in again. If it's a recognizable Tejano artist like Ram or Jay Perez doing country, I'm cool with it. Because it's still supporting Tejano. But, Hootie? Come on now.

Maybe it's gotten better. I don't know. I quit listening. Since I, personally, am growing my knowledge of Tejano (Frank is the master in this area), I listened to your station. I wanted to hear what's new, who's coming, etc. And the addition of country turned me off, as a listener, because it's the kind of country that I don't like.  (Not that you're interested, but I like real honky tonk country, which happens to be played by local artists every night at places like Ginny's Little Longhorn Saloon, The Broken Spoke and Donn's Depot. Artists like Billy Dee, Amber Digby, Jesse Dayton, Dale Watson and Redd Volkaert, to name a few.)

I really don't think I've been too off-base or too unfair in my criticism of Para La Gente or any artist in particular. All of my criticisms have been rooted in my personal beliefs as a listener. If you want to say that I don't know jack about Tejano, well, you're right. I admitted that in my blog post. But that's why I was listening to your station, so I could learn more. Yes, we have an extensive Tejano and Conjunto catalog. And I listen to it all the time at home. But you all may have something new that we don't have yet. Or, you may have an interview with someone that I'd like to hear. Or you may know when a show's going to be.

You may also say or be disappointed in me for saying that shows are only promoted by word of mouth and a few flyers here and there, as I suggested with my goofy example of Tia Chencha. Having to go to individual artists' pages to see when they will be here, or going to Coalition meetings to find out when these will be does not make these shows accessible to as many people as possible.  If either of these organizations wants to have an easy-to-find way for people to know what Tejano shows are in town, please do it, it would benefit us all. I'll put them on my calendar too. Whether it be in the Chronicle, the Statesman, on the air on Para La Gente in a regular "upcoming shows" spot not paid for by the promoter (more like a community calendar than anything else), online, whatever. Please do.  I know the Coalition has a calendar, but there are events on my calendar that do not appear there because (in my scant free time) I scour the artists' pages looking for Austin gigs. Now that I know your site has been redesigned and the calendar is back up, I'll send whatever information I can to your webmaster. The more places you can find it, the better, I'd say.

One last thing...please stop saying there is a double standard between what we say about Para La Gente and what we do as a DJ service. There's really no comparison. We are a small, private business that performs at private events that specializes in Tejano and Conjunto, but if the crowd's not into it, we may not play as much. They may want more country or hip-hop. You are a radio station with an established format that reaches thousands of people.  We are NOT competition for you.

La Guera

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