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Phoenix, The only news/talk-radio station in the Valley aimed at Latino immigrants is going off the air, the victim of a faltering economy, ongoing crackdowns on undocumented immigrants and a tough market for Spanish talk radio.
KNUV-AM (1190), also known as La Buena Onda, will sign off July 31, but the station has begun phasing out much of its programming. Its signature Enlace call-in show aired Monday for the last time.
Its sister station in Denver, KNRV-AM (1150), signs off this month, too.
The closings come just two months after LAT-TV, a Houston-based Spanish cable-television network that broadcast in Phoenix, went out of business.
"We will see more Spanish-language publications and media outlets closing because it's a tough economic environment," said Ricardo Torres, chief executive of Latino Perspectives magazine in Phoenix.
Torres, a former manager of Spanish radio stations in Phoenix, said that KNUV was torpedoed by the state's slumping economy and stepped-up immigration enforcement, both of which are driving immigrants from Arizona. That has led to a drop in listeners, which has translated into a fall in advertising revenues.
"The industries that rely on immigrants are hurting: construction, agriculture and hospitality," Torres said.
"And what is happening is the immigrant community is shrinking due to bad economic times and the current hostile atmosphere created by (Maricopa County) Sheriff Joe Arpaio and laws passed by the Legislature."
During the past several months, Arpaio has launched a series of crime sweeps in Phoenix, Guadalupe and Mesa that have resulted in the arrests of hundreds of illegal immigrants.
The state's employer-sanctions law, which took effect in January, has made it increasingly difficult for illegal immigrants to get jobs. It requires employers to verify work eligibility or risk having their business license revoked.
Phoenix is the eight-largest Latino-media market in the country. Launched in August 2005, KNUV's goal was to give Latinos information needed to get by in the larger community, said Heberto Limas-Villers, president of New Radio Venture, the company that owns KNUV and KNRV.
"We wanted to be as informative as we could so they could make decisions about anything from politics to education," Limas-Villers said.
The station's demographic is 35- to 64-year-old Latinos.
At its height, the 24-hour station had a team of 45 reporters, producers and anchors, making it much more expensive to run than a music station, Limas-Villers said.
The station covered street marches and immigration sweeps. Sometimes, interviews with illegal-immigration suspects were broadcast live from the backs of police cars.
The station also broadcast programming about topics including immigration, education, health and personal relationships.
Averting pool drownings, AIDS prevention and diabetes were among the issues the station covered. Many top public officials, including Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne and Gov. Janet Napolitano, were regular guests.
Limas-Villers said that the station has lost money since it started but that it was on track to break even this year. After advertisers began cutting their budgets, though, investors decided to pull the plug, he said.
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