Memphis has gained its first bilingual noncommercial radio station — a radio station "for everyone," according to 98.5 New Mix FM's tagline. Or at least everyone who speaks English or Spanish.
New Mix FM is a mixed-format station that features both talk shows and music. Its talk-radio segments have a strong focus on financial topics, covering everything from student loans and defaults to mortgages and basic personal finance. Those segments are interspersed with Latino and American pop music.
"It just made so much more sense to build a formula format with capsules that encompass every aspect of financial awareness, and the radio station caught my attention," said Felix Cordova, general manager of New Mix FM. "Our capsules are going to be a little bit less than what you would expect with NPR or a financial education course. I wanted it to be something casual, like you might be listening to music and then, there's a conversation going on — and in that conversation, there would be a lesson."
The topics may seem heavy, but educating the public within a format that features approachable music is a task Cordova says he's prepared for.
"We're going to make it sound as comfortable as possible," he said.
Cordova has an extensive background in financial services and recovery, which he uses to run Citizens Against Unfair Financial Practices (CAUFP) and, now, New Mix FM. The organization qualified for gaining a low-power FM station, a format only available to noncommercial educational, public safety, and transportation organizations. Out of 14 organizations that applied in the Memphis area, CAUFP was one of three that secured a frequency for New Mix FM.
"We wanted to represent a bilingual format because a majority of [CAUFP] are bilingual," Cordova said. "Certain radio stations will have genre-specific formats. I thought by introducing different styles, maybe there would be an interest for it. For what I'm finding and testing right now, people are actually attracted to that mix."
The radio station broadcasts out of an office on Summer Avenue, a location carefully planned by CAUFP to both stay within the radius guidelines of the Federal Communications Commission and remain close to the community the radio station aims to represent.
"I think we want to have a little fun with the radio station," Cordova said. "We also want to attack the boundaries that exist financially and socially at the same time, because it doesn't matter what side of the fence you're on, there are issues."
He also mentioned the lack of media for young Latino professionals in the Memphis area.
"I think the group I represent is more of a professional, young professional, or contemporary group of Latinos, [and] for some reason, I didn't feel like we had representation," Cordova said.
That group, he said, may come from Spanish-speaking households who speak the language commonly, but when they go out with their friends, they speak English. Having this radio station available gives them a way to remember and celebrate their heritage, Cordova said.
New Mix FM began broadcasting over the air on Monday, but the internet broadcast has been airing since April 15th. Listeners can tune in on 98.5 FM or online at http://985newmixfm.org.