October 11, 2017

El Poder Latino a boon to community

RHBA Business Lunch July 2016

Since hitting the airwaves in November 2015, Poder 97.1 WEPL Radio has been a big hit with listeners, according to the station’s general manager, Julio Saenz.

Saenz spoke to members of the Rochester Hispanic Business Association at its July lunch meeting at Monte Alban in Irondequoit.

Poder 97.1 is operated by the Ibero American Action League and is the first 24-hour Latin radio station outside of New York City. The station’s format is Latin/tropical, similar to stations in New York City and Miami where that format ranks No. 1, Saenz said.

In addition to music, the station also offers two talk shows. “Emprendedores Latinos/Latino Entrepreneurs” is a weekly business show hosted by The Pike Company’s Chief Innovation Officer, Mauricio Riveros, and Saenz. The program airs at 9 a.m. Saturdays. That show is followed by La Vista Latina from 10 a.m. to noon with hosts Stephanie Paredes and Yesenia Ramos Torres.

The name for the station, El Poder, came from the goal of empowering the community. Saenz said the goal of the radio station is to keep “it fun and interesting.” Ibero was able to launch the radio station because the Federal Communications Commission opened up the application process for new FM stations for the first time in 16 years.

El Poder is a low-watt station, which means its range is limited. According to Saenz, it can be heard in the city of Rochester, Greece, Irondequoit, Webster, Pittsford and Henrietta. However, it also can be heard via livestream on the Internet. Right now, Saenz said, about 1,300 to 1,400 people are listening to the station via the Internet, which is “off the charts” in terms of numbers.

Saenz said that he’s received an “incredibly positive response. I’m surprised I’ve gotten almost no complaints…People have been waiting for this for so long.”

The challenge, Saenz said, is to keep all listeners happy. So the station plays music from all Latin American countries and Spain. The station’s DJs all donate their time; Saenz is the only paid employee. “We have a bunch of great volunteers.”

The station is currently funded through underwriting and Saenz hopes to hold more events sponsored by the station. The station hosted a sellout concert in April.

Saenz is interested in interviewing more RHBA members on “Emprendedores Latinos/Latino Entrepreneurs.” Board members Luis Ormaechea and Sergio Esteban were guests earlier this year. Interested people can contact Saenz by emailing him at julio.saenz@iaal.org.

Photos by Kelly Mullaney