It’s 7:30pm. A radio transmitter blares the nightly news in Spanish: There’s an election revolt in Perú, a sexual abuse scandal in Uruguay, the massacre of 17 miners in Venezuela, an earthquake in Ecuador, and a petition for El Salvador’s government to investigate the presumed links between gangs and right-wing politicians.
The small, gray device is the focal point at Radio Cántico Nuevo (RCN) — a Spanish language ministry radio station — which now boasts a new frequency (97.5 FM) broadcast from its new Bensonhurst headquarters (8700 18th Avenue).
RCN’s board of directors reached a $1.6 millions agreement with the station’s former owner Ted Schober earlier this year and celebrated the companies expansion at Sunset Park’s Iglesia Asamblea de Dios Pentecostal (230 47th Street) on April 8.
The broadcasts reveal much about the interests of Spanish-speaking listeners in the Tri-State Area. Other topics included in the Tuesday night edition, are global counterterrorism operations, and the 2016 presidential primaries.
La Red Mundial de Noticias (global news network) is produced and broadcasted every day by Johnny Romero, news director of RCN — the radio network of Bensonhurst’s Jóvenes Cristianos Pentecostal Church, founded by Pastor Erick Salgado.
When Radio Cántico Nuevo was originally founded 13 years ago, on April 8, 2003, with just a single radio frequency in Elizabeth, New Jersey, according to Salgado. The network now includes Radio Cántico Nuevo (103.9FM New Jersey/1440 AM Long Island), RCN Broadcasting (740 AM New York/Connecticut) and Radio Cántico Nuevo 1530 AM/97.5 FM New Jersey/106.3 New York).
The radio network’s expansion also signifies the swelling influence of Salgado and his churches amongst Spanish Speakers in New York. Reflecting a nationwide trend of more religiously devout Hispanic Americans leaving Catholicism for Evangelical Protestantism, according to a 2014 Pew Research Center Survey, adherents of 32 Jóvenes Cristianos outposts in the Tri-State Area now number at about 12,000, according to Salgado. With the new frequencies, RCN hopes to potentially reach up to 70,000 listeners with its broadcasts on faith and current events.
The radio transmissions are live, in Spanish, and 24/7. The hourly programs may feature an immigration and advocacy specialist, traditional and conventional doctors, or important public service announcements.
“La Hora de los Jóvenes” (Time for the Youth) is Salgado’s show with religious preachers, and advocacy for the Latino community. He is also speaker for a new organization of taxi drivers in Manhattan and The Bronx, who are fighting for better conditions and toll discounts, as they are facing strong competition of Uber and other car sharing services.
The station also facilitates an ongoing conversation between Evangelicals in Latin America and Spanish Speaking New Yorkers online. Listeners from Brooklyn, New Jersey and beyond can call in or type in prayer requests or comment on current events on the network’s forum. Last month Salgado and other politicians traveled to Dominican Republic to attend a meeting with the new President Danilo Medina.
For other hosts of RCN, the gig is a entertaining side job. Ángel Cortez, 22, the son of Mexican parents, is in charge of the night shift, programming christian music and the news. He likes working at the radio but his dream is being a pharmacist.
Juan Guachiac is also operator at RCN and works with the administration. He was born in Nahualá (Totonicapán, Guatemala) and came to the United States being a child. He’s been working for the network since its launch, and owns a bodega on Avenue U.
Guachiac plays music from local Christian artist on Sunday mornings. The most popular singers are Samuel Hernández and Carlos Alvarado, he said.
For Brooklyn listeners of the radio network, RNC bridges the gap between Latin America and the city they’ve made their home.