By Christi Milligan Kevin Andrade made two crucial decisions in 2003. The first was to leave a successful television career in Ecuador. The second was to bypass broadcast opportunities in Latin-rich Miami and head to ...
[caption id="attachment_18583" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Kevin Andrade poses with Gov. Jack Markell at the opening of his new headquarters in Georgetown. Andrade has been a radio personality for more than 25 years, including his career as a broadcaster in his native Ecuador.[/caption]
Kevin Andrade made two crucial decisions in 2003. The first was to leave a successful television career in Ecuador. The second was to bypass broadcast opportunities in Latin-rich Miami and head to Delaware.
Both decisions proved the right ones.
Last month, Andrade gathered with local officials to celebrate the opening and renovation of facilities of The Voice Radio Network, a group of six frequencies purchased by Andrade and headquartered in Georgetown.
"We're here to congratulate Kevin for being such a force, not only for the Latino community, but also for the economy of the area with the jobs that he has created and the hope he has given others that they too can live out the American dream," said Gov. Jack Markell, who attended the official opening of Andrade's new facilities.
Once owned by Great Scott Broadcasting, the frequencies include two stations dedicated to the Hispanic community and three that target a broader audience, including hip-hop and classic rock.
"I believe if you don't dream and work hard you're never going to achieve things," said Andrade, who got his break in Delaware with a Sunday afternoon talk show at WGMD 92.7 in Rehoboth.
The substance of that original program, a lineup of professionals who addressed trends and issues at the heart of the Hispanic community, would be the common crux of his many roles in Delaware: business owner, radio personality and mentor.
"The program was in Spanish in the beginning and there were some calls from people who complained," said Andrade, who added that he was startled by scarcity of Latino-centered programming and general news in the area.
He said he knew that radio, particularly talk radio, could offer them the news and education they hungered for and give Andrade the chance to put down roots that meant something.
"Miami is in a beautiful state with lots of opportunities, but it was too busy and had lots of competition with Hispanic media outlets," he said. "But here in Delaware was a state of opportunities. There were no Spanish stations, no competition.
"I chose to be the head of the mouse and not the tail of the lion."
In 2010, Andrade leased a frequency for Maxima 95.3 FM from Great Scott Broadcasting Network. That frequency now reaches 95 percent of Delmarva's Latino Community.
In addition to offering Latin music, Andrade opted to produce and broadcast shows that featured experts in legal, financial, and faith-based areas but also met the cultural heritage of his audience.
He said he's committed to helping the region grow economically and culturally.
[caption id="attachment_18584" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Andrade recently renovated his Georgetown facility, home to six frequencies and a staff of more than 30 employees.[/caption]
According to 2014 figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, 9.3 percent of Sussex County's population is Hispanic or Latino.
"Today we spoke about the latest report about suicide in the Latino community and what's causing it," said Andrade.
The program is also a "how to" for assimilating in the United States, according to Andrade.
"How to adopt the country, how to adopt the language, we talk about everything," said Andrade, who became an American citizen in June 2015."We tell them "˜come and bring the good values you have and mix it with the opportunities here.' The ending is a successful American dream."
His own American dream culminated with the purchase of six stations once owned by Great Scott Broadcasting: Power 101.7 FM-WZEB, which features urban contemporary music; classic rock stations The Vault 103.5 FM-WJKI and 106.1 FM-WXSH.
They also include and La Raza 900 AM and 100.3 FM, which cater to Latinos of Mexican heritage.
"He really has been a motivator for others," said Rep. Ruth Briggs-King, of Georgetown."He's an entrepreneur and a real asset to the community. Ever since Kevin first arrived in Georgetown, he's been very engaged in the community.
"He had a dream and made a plan and made it work."
"Every day, we set out to broadcast local, live shows that speak to the interests of our listeners, hosted by local personalities who take phone calls and respond to the audience," said Andrade."That is what radio is supposed to sound like."
The Voice Radio Network employs a staff of 30, and in Andrade's "˜what's next' strategy, he hopes to expand.
"I truly want to make sure this company is going to be strong in the business we do," said Andrade."We want to grow and open new stations in Wilmington, Pennsylvania, Baltimore and New York.
Andrade also hosts a television show on ABC Channel 47 called Latino Flavor. But he said his first love remains radio.
"Radio is what makes me happy," said Andrade. "I don't work for radio, I live for radio.I can do it for 24 hours and never get tired."