KMOJ encourages a similar investment in the Black community
About a third of Minnesota Twins’ 2016 regular season games will be broadcast on Minnesota’s only Latino-owned radio station. La Raza 1400 AM/1470 AM will air 50 Twins games, including the April 4 season opener at Baltimore and the April 11 home opener versus the Chicago White Sox.
“It’s very important not only to us but the entire community,” said Maya Santamaria, the station’s president and CEO, to the MSR prior to the December 18 joint announcement at El Nuevo Rodeo Restaurant on East Lake Street in Minneapolis. “We [the Latino community] are starting to be embraced and included. It’s a community-building level of feeling right now.”
The Twins were the first Twin Cities pro sports team to broadcast games in Spanish. Color Analyst Tony Oliva said the Latino population has grown steadily since he relocated here from Cuba in the early 1960s.
“We have a fantastic signal,” Santamaria continued. “Our signal covers the entire Twin Cities area. You can hear us all the way down to Cannon Falls and all the way up to St. Cloud. I think that’s the reason why the Twins chose us.”
“I think it’s something that is good for the Twins and very good for the radio station,” stated Santamaria General Sales Manager Juan Montenegro.
“We know we have the right partner” in La Raza, added Twins President Dave St. Peter in his remarks during a reception last week.
“This is an important step for this organization regarding the Latino community,” noted Twins Diversity Marketing Director Miguel Ramos. “It’s going to be beyond baseball, beyond the broadcast,” such as the possibility of job opportunities and local event promotions, he said.
“I don’t know if it would’ve happened without the leadership, vision and passion of Miguel Ramos,” stated St. Peter.
“This is not just about me or two people,” responded Ramos.
The MSR asked how the new three-year partnership between the team and Spanish radio is of interest and/or importance to the local Black community. “It’s important as African Americans to celebrate all communities of color,” noted Meet Minneapolis CEO Melvin Tennant. “We certainly appreciate the fact that the Twins reached out to the Latino community.”
“We have an interest in anything that engages community — we have an interest in that whether it’s Latino, African Americans, Asian Americans,” said St. Peter.
When asked of any future plans with other local ethnic-owned and operated media such as KMOJ-FM, “That would be of great interest to the Twins,” admitted St. Peter, adding that he strongly supports “community-based partnerships.”
KMOJ Station Manager Kelvin Quarles told the MSR last week that he can understand the Twins-La Raza partnership: “Latinos love baseball,” he pointed out. But he would also welcome a stronger relationship with the team “in getting the word out about the games, to make Black people in this community feel a part of the team.
“If there is any opportunity for Black media to generate some revenue,” stated Quarles, “that would be the route they should take right now.”
Quarles said over the years he has been disappointed in Major League Baseball’s poor efforts at engaging Blacks. “They don’t invest in our media. They don’t invest in our community. They don’t show up in our community to do chartable work.”
The Twins, as well as other Twin Cities pro teams, seem to limit their player appearances to mostly non-Black locations, continued Quarles. “These sports franchises need to invest time, money and interest in the Black community…[rather than] Edina, Eden Prairie, Woodbury and Plymouth. If they really want to help the Black community, invest in the Black community,” he said.
“The African American community deserves the same as any other community,” said Ramos. “It’s about the community coming together and making sure that together we see better things.”
Santamaria said she hopes the Twins-La Raza partnership will convince other teams to step forward as well. “We hope to be able to work with other sports in Minnesota to do something similar” to her station’s partnership with the Twins. “We love our football, our basketball and our hockey. Hopefully it is the beginning of something big.”
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.