CLEWISTON, FL. -- Since 1980 Robbie Castellanos and Jim Johnson have been running Hendry and Glades county's radio stations, head-quartered in Clewiston. Florida. Broadcasting country music in English on their FM station and in Spanish on the AM station, WAFC FM is now all Spanish, simulcasting it's AM programming "Radio Fiesta."
Photo: Robbie Castellanos, CEO Glades Media Group
The Glades Media Group, owners of the original stations in Clewiston, now operate seven radio stations in South Florida, "providing advertisers with a coast-to-coast platform," according to their advertising.
The Spanish stations have over the years provided Castallanos and Johnson with their profit center. With declining radio listeners nationwide, and most likely in our local area as well, and the growing numbers of Latinos, it looks like WAFC will cater to the Spanish listener.
From the Glades Media Group website, a pitch to advertisers, "Now that the Hispanic population has officially overtaken black Americans as the nation's largest minority group, the Glades Media Group is in the perfect position to help you reach them. The Hispanic population has grown almost four times faster than the rest of the country..."
Robbie Castellanos, CEO of Glades Media Company, announced that radio station WAFC-FM / 99.5 has changed programming format from Contemporary Country to Regional Mexican; the format changed took place February 1. He explained that the national economic recession coupled with the local uncertainties associated with the sale of USSC to South Florida Water Management has seriously stifled local economic growth.
Castellanos, said “Advertising is our revenue stream and right now advertising everywhere, in all media, is in recession but none any worse than here in the Glades,” he said.
Glades Media Company has owned and operated WAFC-FM since 1980; during the entire 28 years it has featured country music and many other very popular community programs.
Castellanos says, "It has been our greatest pleasure to have served the Glades area for all these years. I know we have many loyal listeners who are deeply disappointed; I can only hope that they will understand the circumstances surrounding the change. "
Castellanos went on to explain, "Every day the news is the same, thousands of good people laid off from work—that has not happened to our companies, we haven’t laid off anyone and we don’t want to start. I need every one of my employees to maintain our successful position. "
He explained that Glades Media also owns two other country music stations in Okeechobee, WOKC 1570 and FM 100.9. Glades Media Company’s primary business though is in Hispanic broadcasting where they own and operate six stations broadcasting a variety of Hispanic programming.
"That portion of our business is fine with only a reasonable decline in business, we believe the move of WAFC-FM 99.5 to a Regional Mexican format can only help our station group to prosper during these uncertain economic times."
WAFC-FM To Move To Palm Beach County
"The current economic conditions have prompted this immediate change, but change was already scheduled on the horizon. Plans were in place for WAFC-FM to be moved to Palm Beach Gardens to become that community’s first FM radio station. The Federal Communications Commission approved the city of license change more than a year ago but tower location issues delayed the move. Once the final move is complete, WAFC-FM / 99.5 would become a Hispanic station intended to strengthen Glades’ market influence into the Latin community in the West Palm Beach where they already operate two Hispanic stations," explains Castellanos
For right now, 99.5 FM will primarily simulcast (rebroadcast) the programming of Glades’ local Regional Mexican station WAFC-AM, Radio Fiesta 590 which has been a Spanish station since 1989. Castellanos added, “590 has been one of our most successful stations for 20 years, this change will only make it more popular”.
Glades Media Co. has recently been granted by the FCC a FM translator frequency; the new station broadcasting on 100.5 FM signed-on January 26, 2009. FM 100.5 will also simulcast the programming of WAFC-AM, Radio Fiesta – 590; its broadcast service area covers Moore Haven to Canal Point and all the communities on the south lake shore. Once WAFC-FM / 99.5 is moved to Palm Beach Gardens the lake area’s Hispanic communities will be served by both WAFC-AM at 590 and by FM 100.5.