Thursday, March 19, 2009

Lancaster's Radio Centro attracts International Latino Stars

Radio Centro (91.3 WLCH) first entered the local airwaves on September 14, 1987. Station Manager Enid Vasquez-Pereira was there on that Monday morning, and today she easily recalls the small beginnings: “It was a little studio. You’d walk into the production studio and then walk into the on-air studio, so there were a lot of interruptions.” It was a Now the station occupies a generous first-floor space for their lively headquarters at 30 N Ann St.

Radio Centro (RC) is a Spanish public broadcasting station serving Hispanic and Latino listeners in Lancaster and beyond. Being an NPR-affiliated broadcaster, the station offers a blend of educational and cultural programming, some of which is produced by larger national studios, such as Radio Bilingue's Linea Abierta (airing Monday through Friday at 3:00pm). Much of RC’s educational programming, however, is homegrown, produced right here at the Downtown Lancaster studio.

Music plays an important role in RC’s programming. And, although most of the music is Spanish-language, there exists a wide range of ethnic genres. As Lancaster has grown in its diversity of Hispanic nationalities, Vasquez-Pereira explained, RC has sought to provide specialized blocks of programming catered to various styles—from Cuban to Dominican. Occasionally, up-and-coming artists have visited RC from New York City or other urban centers to talk on the air. According to Vasquez-Pereira, “we have had some who are now international stars,” such as Andy Andy and Aventura.

Aside from providing Spanish-speakers with valuable news and information, one of RC’s greatest accomplishments is preserving Hispanic and Latino culture by connecting older and younger generations.

Vasquez-Pereira explained the dynamic: “We do have some programs that the older individuals might appreciate. This is music that you won’t hear elsewhere—like the old trio songs that my parents used to love….Then you have individuals like myself that appreciate listening to it because it reminds me of my parents.” Also, “with the radio station, I hear [the younger generation] using their Spanish a little bit more, and even appreciating their Spanish music a lot more than they used to.”

Radio Centro broadcasts from Downtown Lancaster and reaches as far as York. In the future, the station hopes to expand its coverage, and continue cultivating Hispanic and Latino culture in Lancaster City and beyond.

The month of March is a crucial time for Radio Centro in raising support for their operations as a public broadcasting station. For more information about Radio Centro and how you can support their programming, visit