5 Star Stories: Memphis’ only Hispanic-owned radio stations make positive impact in the community
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - We’re celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with a 5-Star Story honoring Memphis’ only Hispanic-owned Spanish-language radio stations and the family behind the broadcasts who is living the American Dream while serving the communities we love.
As Ivette Butron-Ramos told us when we caught up with her on the University of Memphis (UofM) campus, “It’s never too late to learn something new.”
She graduated with a degree in journalism from a university in Mexico City nearly 20 years ago, but is taking English classes at UofM, and hopes to also take business classes soon.
“It’s important for me because I need to learn English to represent better my company,” explained Butron-Ramos.
When she isn’t taking classes, she and her husband run two of the only Spanish-language radio stations in Memphis -- Radio Ambiente 1030 AM and La Jefa 99.3 FM.
Butron-Ramos described how it all came to be.
“When we bought Radio Ambiente, we bought the business and the brand, the name, the customers, but the signal, the call letters of the station don’t belong to us. We’ve been working in radio since 1999 and of course, we’ve been working in different markets here in the United States: Georgia, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee. And always, we have that dream to in the future to have our own business,” she said.
So, after about two years of paperwork and research, the couple found a good signal in 99.3.
“And on October 31, 2018, we became the first Mexican-American people who own a Spanish radio station in Memphis,” added Butron-Ramos.
Latin music, information, and news are what listeners want and get, and what Burton Media (the name of the family’s company) relishes, especially since there are no Spanish-language television stations in Memphis.
“Not only to communicate and entertain,” said Butron-Ramos, “but also use this power to benefit our community.”
According to her, the radio stations are “like the bridge to their culture in Mexico or the other countries and this life, which is difficult for every immigrant. It’s difficult because we left our family, our country, our roots, our culture, so the radio station makes this reach to remember them, our countries.”
Butron Media is also at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19, allowing the City of Memphis to use an event space in a shopping plaza on Stage Road, which the company bought last April, as a vaccination site.
“So they use our place every three weeks to do vaccines for the Latino community because at the beginning of the pandemic, the Latino people doesn’t want to get the vaccines,” Butron-Ramos said. “They don’t trust,they don’t know how to go on internet and do appointments on the Pipkin building. It was hard. No one speaks Spanish there.”
In August, the mass communications company held a back-to-school event in that same event space, giving away backpacks and school supplies to hundreds of students.
And when the weather turns colder, “We give away coats and toys to the kids in need from the Latino community during winter,” Butron-Ramos added with pride. “So, the radio station becomes the heart of the community. They know that we are immigrants just like them and we work for them. And overall, this seven years we’ve been building a reputation and they trust us.”
And that’s a trust Radio Ambiente and Le Jefa plan to continue earning for many years to come. Butron Media also has a Facebook page, En Resumen Noticias, which posts Spanish-language news videos and information, as well. Click here to visit that page.
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