According to Biondi, Internet Tejano radio has more listeners that terrestrial radio because it has a different audience.
“We have an elite group of listeners, more affluent and better educated than terrestrial radio listeners. When we pitch a night club, we know we may not bring huge numbers of listeners out to the club, but we won’t fill it with an audience that will sit and nurse two beers all night,” explains Biondi.
He says the actual penetration of computer users among Tejano music fans is exceedingly high as compared to Anglos. “Tejano listeners are better educated and have higher positions in the community,” says Biondi.
“The bulk of our audience listens to us from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. Our main audience listens to us on the Internet, and that’s a situation that won’t change until broadcast wireless is available en masse. Because these are people listening to us on their computer at work, they are in the higher pecking order. They have more money and more spendable income. Because they are listening on the Internet, they do not punch in and out of different stations. Instead, they spend an average of four to six hours listening to us. Terrestrial radio is lucky if they can hold a listener for 30 to 45 minutes.
“If they listen to us for six hours straight to a station they have selected, you have an audience that is very loyal. Most of them are listening to us at their desk with their headphones on as opposed to terrestrial radio playing in the background. During the day, 80 percent of our audience is comprised of repeat listeners. We gauge that from tabulating audience response, how our listeners get in touch with us. I once asked all our disc jockeys to pull all the e-mails and notes they received and we marked the areas they originated from on a big map of the United States. We filled up that entire map,” says Biondi.
But BNetRadio’s listeners are not just restricted to the United States. The station’s audience is global. “We had a caller from inside a tank on operations in Afghanistan who was listening to us while going on a mission to kill people. He picked up our broadcast on the tank’s Internet system. And we’ve heard from listeners stationed with a M.A.S.H. unit in Baghdad and Tikrit. It is just like you see on the TV show. They move to a new location and the first thing they do is set up tents. Then they set up a satellite dish for the Internet. Then they put up a pole and put a speaker on it to play the broadcast.
“We had a soldier and his father who communicated through our radio station. The son was in a M.A.S.H. unit, his father was in Seattle.
“Another time we received a call from a payphone outside an Internet cafe in Baghdad. The caller was live on the air with us. All of a sudden, we heard an explosion in the background. The caller said, ‘Hang on; I’ve got to check this out.’ You could hear him as he ran down the street. When he came back he said, ‘That’s okay, it was just a shoulder-mounted missile,’” says Biondi.
All four of the armed forces radio networks put BNetRadio on their military satellite. That’s in addition to the Internet feeds in Iraq and Afghanistan. “We’ll have a soldier call in on an SAT phone. We’ve instructed our DJ’s to expect a delay on SAT calls. One soldier tried three times before he got through because the DJ kept hanging up before the delayed conversation came through.
“We are getting more and more e-mails about the need for what we are doing. Not only are we providing listeners access to Tejano music, but we have become a conduit for the artists themselves. Many Tejano artists listen to the station. If a listener calls in with a question about a song, that artist may call in with the answer. Sometimes I come in to work and there’s Little Joe’s truck parked in front of the studio.
“When you think of Tejano music, you don’t usually think of Billings, Montana as a hotbed. But we get calls from there on our 1-800 line about CD’s by upcoming artists. BNetRadio provides access to expose new quality talent to the world,” explains Biondi.
How many Anglos listen to BNetRadio? “We have a core base of 10 to 15 percent Anglo listeners,” replies Biondi. “We even have some Latinos who are not fluent in Spanish who listen in to the station to learn Spanish.
“We have lots of listeners in the Midwest, especially in the Chicago area, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Michigan. There’s a group called the Windy City Ladies who send us e-mail every day. One of our disc jockeys was once a Chicago DJ.
“Our station has listener clusters in Seattle. Our listener base is very heavy in California, Tucson, Phoenix, Albuquerque, the tobacco growing areas of the Carolinas, and, surprisingly, in New York City and Philadelphia,” explains Biondi.
“But most surprising are the listeners we have in Tokyo, Japan—which points to the universal appeal of Tejano music. At 4:00 a.m. CST, there are 300 to 400 listeners in Japan.
How do we know this? We track routes in Internet IP addresses of users. Our listening audience in Japan could be stationed in the military or be Americans working for manufacturing companies, but they’re on their Internet listening.
“We have listeners in Germany, France, Italy, and Spain. Because we are heard worldwide, our DJ’s have to think globally. They can’t say it is raining outside because it may be sunny in Tokyo. Nor can they give the time; that’s why they always say it is 30 after the hour. Nor do they say good morning or good evening. They have to get the big picture that you’re talking to the world,…to el mundo.
“I can get our broadcast on my PDA anywhere in Houston. Thanks to new cell phone technology, you can get it on your Blackberry. Eventually, you’ll be able to pick it up on every major highway. The technology is friggin awesome,” says Biondi.
Among the other sites offering Tejano webcasting are: www.tejanofm.com
and www.tejanomixes.com, although the latter is temporarily under construction until after New Year’s Day. Twenty types of Latino music—but not Tejano—are available at: www.batanga.com.
Another webcast with a strong emphasis on Tejano is Toledo, Ohio’s own www.kaboomlatino.com. This new station webcasts out of the Spitzer Building with mixed Latino tunes, but with a Tejano emphasis.
Kaboom Latino’s DJ’s are the six Longoria brothers and their father, Rey. They have a long tradition in the Tejano industry as members of Los Aztecas—a Tejano band started by Rey decades ago. Their Tejano roots takes them to Dallas on Dec. 31st to play a gig at the Longhorn Saloon.