Tuesday, November 24, 2009

7269: Ancient Chinese Secret On The Radio.

From The Los Angeles Times…

Chinese Americans find community on their radio dial
Pasadena-based KAZN-AM was the nation’s first 24-hour Chinese language radio station and remains the dominant voice in the Chinese community in L.A.

By Ching-Ching Ni

The caller sounded as if he had just won the lottery. After years of trying, he had finally reached the disc jockey at his favorite radio station, KAZN-AM (1300).

“I’ve been listening to your program for 10 years. This is the first time I got through,” the caller said, adding that he was listening from work and that he and his buddies would love to hear the Mandarin oldie, “Do You Know I’m Waiting For You?”

A few minutes later, DJ Steve Kuo played the romantic ballad. It sounded a little like something by the band Air Supply, except the singer was crooning in Chinese.

“I was very touched; he’s been listening to us for so long,” Kuo said of the caller. “We all face pressures from our daily lives. We all want to hear the familiar language, music and sound of home.”

That helps explain the popularity of Pasadena-based KAZN, the nation’s first 24-hour Chinese-language radio station. Since 1993, it has delivered around-the-clock news, entertainment and music to the fast-growing Chinese population in Southern California.

The station’s owner, Multimedia Radio Broadcasting Inc., runs sister stations: KMRB-AM 1430, which provides similar programming in Los Angeles, but in Cantonese, and KAHZ-AM 1600, a simulcast of KAZN heard primarily in Orange County and parts of Riverside County.

The stations’ combined audience is more than 250,000, according to a 2005 Arbitron ratings survey. That pales in comparison to some Spanish-language stations, but industry insiders say the Chinese American audience shouldn’t be overlooked.

“Our consumers are educated, brand-conscious, bilingual. … These are loyal customers with high buying power,” said Eric Chang, national sales account director for Networks Asia, a division of Multimedia. “The Hispanic market is 10 years ahead of us. But in another 10 years, we’ll be just as strong.”

For now KAZN remains the dominant voice in the Chinese community in L.A. and serves as a clearinghouse for all sorts of general information. On the weekends, one can hear Bible stories, Buddhist sermons, family counseling, celebrity interviews and lectures on immigration law.

Even its infomercials are popular.

“That’s how I find out if there is a new restaurant opening up or summer camp for the kids or programs that help them get into college,” said Jennifer Zhou, 44, an insurance agent in Arcadia who emigrated from Beijing and is a loyal KAZN listener. “A lot of my friends love the station because we don’t always have time to read the newspaper or go online. So they really do help a lot of people.”

Read the full story here.

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