ESPN West Palm Beach radio has kicked off a Spanish-language affiliate for sports fans looking to get their play-by-plays and latest scores 24 hours a day in español.
Called ESPN Deportes, it will air on 760 AM, the former home of ESPN West Palm Beach, which has shifted over to 106.3 FM. Both stations are owned by Good Karma Broadcasting.
Looking to reach the growing number of Hispanics and hard-core sports fans who speak Spanish in Palm Beach County, the station will carry the radio network's popular sports talk shows including "Raza Deportiva," "ESPN Al Despertar" and "Jorge Ramos y Su Banda."
"This is the 28th largest Hispanic market in the country,'' said Steve Politziner, general manager of ESPN West Palm Beach and vice president of Good Karma Broadcasting in Wisconsin, who attributed the ranking to 2012-2013 estimates from Scarborough Research. "To have a market of this size, with this Hispanic population not being served in the Hispanic sports format, is a void."
Although the 760 AM signal is concentrated in Palm Beach County, it also reaches into some parts of Broward County. Both counties have seen a population surge among Hispanics in recent years. More than one in five residents of Broward and Palm Beach counties is Hispanic, and there are 689,070 Hispanics in both counties, according to the 2010 US Census.
"This market is filled with sports fans,'' Politziner added, "and Hispanics are right up there with sports passion."
Though Hispanics come from various countries of origin, from Latin America and the Caribbean, "the common thing for all these different groups is sports,'' said Julian Zaldivar, who works as an ambassador for ESPN Deportes in West Palm Beach. "It's part of our culture. It's in our blood since we were little kids."
The programming will be soccer-centric. The station plans to broadcast big sporting events such as the 2014 World Cup Qualifiers and Mexican First Division Soccer, as well as provide coverage and commentary of other sports including Major League Soccer, Major League Baseball and the National Football League.
The station launched on Sept. 12. To help spread the word, station officials are using billboards throughout Palm Beach County. They are also working with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Palm Beach County and attending local food truck events.
Politziner said he would eventually like to add localized sports programming in Spanish. His ESPN West Palm Beach radio affiliate already produces sports reports for WPTV-Ch. 5 and WFLX-Ch. 29 in West Palm Beach for their early evening and late newscasts.
ESPN Deportes has 44 affiliates nationally, including ESPN Deportes Miami, which debuted in 2008. That station, which airs on 1210 AM, is run by Deportes Media Inc.
"We are proud to extend ESPN Deportes Radio's reach in South Florida,'' Oscar Ramos, senior director and general manager of ESPN Deportes Radio, said in a statement. "This is another milestone in our effort to continue expanding our national presence."
One Hispanic media expert thinks it makes sense for the radio network to push into Palm Beach County.
"The passion is there, the market is there, and I think that is why the expansion is there,'' said Veronica Villafañe, editor of Mediamoves.com, which covers Hispanic media. "Radio is still, contrary to what a lot of people suggest, a strong medium within the Hispanic community. When you think about it, it is a medium that you don't have to pay for."