Lebanon’s Hispanic community is substantial, and continues to grow. And with that expanding community comes needs and opportunities, both of which remain relatively unmet and untapped.
Introducing, ‘Camara 809 FM.’
Camara 809 FM is Lebanon County’s newest media outlet and soon to be Lebanon’s only Hispanic radio station. Its purpose is to serve Lebanon’s ever growing Spanish-speaking population, to be a positive influence locally, and to provide local businesses an opportunity to reach the Hispanic market.
“Our goal is to be the only Latin radio station in Lebanon, PA,” said Lisandro Tolentino, a New York businessman and one of three owners driving the endeavor. “And to be successful, business-wise and personally. We want the Latin community to know they have their own radio station. We’d also like to connect to people from outside the community.
“We need the whole town of Lebanon to support us,” continued Tolentino. “If we don’t get the support, we can’t make it go. We can have the best product, and if we don’t have people consume it, it can’t be a success.”
Camara 809 FM will be welcomed to Lebanon with a grand-opening, ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday, Jan. 25, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the location of its new studio at 25 North Ninth Street. Free food and light refreshments will be served and visitors will be able to meet and mingle with local dignitaries, the owners and the local radio hosts who will help populate the new station.
Right now, listeners can enjoy Camara 809 FM by downloading its app or by visiting its website. On Monday, Jan. 27, Camara 809 FM will begin the Lebanon portion of its broadcasts when the local hosts start their regular shows.
Tolentino said nearly 5,000 local residents have already downloaded the station’s app.
In the future, Camara 809 FM hopes to offer its programming on FM radio.
“I’ve heard from tons of people who say there is a dire need,” said Tolentino. “They say, ‘We need a Spanish radio station in Lebanon.’ I’ve heard it from business owners ‘we need somewhere to promote our businesses.’ It’s a huge need, to have a Latin radio station in Lebanon.
“There’s no question that we see opportunity,” Tolentino added. “It’s a growing community and we wanted to be a part of that. It’s (the station) tropical and family-oriented. There will be no cussing or saying bad words. It means it can be listened to by everyone.”
Included in Camara 809 FM’s vision is up to six radio shows produced by local hosts, including an informative morning show from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., Monday through Friday. The station will offer different varieties of Hispanic music, and some talk, news and interviews.
“It’s all combined. It’s going to have a little bit of everything, throughout the entire day,” said Tolentino, who was born and raised in the Dominican Republic. “Whatever’s trending. Whatever’s happening in Lebanon. We’re looking to broadcast to the residents of Lebanon, PA, where the station is going to be based. We’re going to have employees and have people doing shows. As a business, we’re marketing it as a community radio station because Lebanon doesn’t have a Latin radio station. It is a Latin radio station.
“I went to Lebanon two months ago,” Tolentino continued. “We were looking for a place for a Spanish radio station. It will be something for people in Lebanon to raise their voices. It was something we wanted to provide so they can have a voice.”
Lebanon County is home to more than 12,000 residents of Hispanic descent. By percentage, the city of Lebanon has one of the highest populations of Hispanics in the state of Pennsylvania.
A few years ago, the now-defunct Hispanic radio station Radio Omega operated in the city, with varying amounts of success.
“It’s something we’re still studying,” said Tolentino. “It’s a pretty large Hispanic community. The biggest Latin community in Lebanon is Puerto Rican. But it is a mix in Lebanon, PA. One of the things I see when I go to Lebanon is one or two moving trucks. It tells me it’s a growing Latin community. It’s definitely growing.
“I’m still putting everything together about Lebanon,” added Tolentino. “It’s something I don’t know completely.”
Tolentino said that between $10,000 and $20,000 has already been invested in Camara 809 FM. He also said the radio station will employ 15-20 people, a number that includes sales people, radio hosts, and a receptionist.
“It depends on how fast we grow,” said Tolentino. “I also want to have an English-speaking salesperson.
“Technically speaking, we’re going to need a high-tech computer and five microphones,” continued Tolentino. “When you walk into the radio studio, we’re going to have a lobby, and then a middle office. We’re going to be broadcasting live.”
Tolentino said he personally will be moving to Lebanon this summer, but will continue to maintain a residence in New York.
“That’s a tough question and I’m going to be very sincere,” said Tolentino. “We want this to be so big that it can be an FM station. That’s something we’re going to be working on over the next three to six months, but it’s a bigger financial commitment. We want to have the support of everyone in Lebanon, PA, and we hope people from outside of Lebanon County will listen.
“We want to give people in Lebanon what they are asking for, which is a Latin radio station,” concluded Tolentino. “Our doors will always be open to the community.”
Camara 809 FM will be a product of the simple rule of supply and demand.
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This article has been updated to correct the time of the ribbon cutting ceremony.