La Tremenda: St Louis’ Only Spanish-Language Radio Station
Radio might seem like a played-out medium nowadays, what with the multitude of music streaming platforms available, but one St. Louis station is defying expectations one song at a time.
La Tremenda, broadcasting at 880 AM has the unique distinction of being St. Louis’ first and only (so far) Spanish language radio station. With 24-hour programming, and non-stop great music, it's no surprise that in the seven short years since its founding, it’s become incredibly popular with an ever-rising listenership.
Some time ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing the General Manager of the station, Manuel Rivera, who graciously took time out of his busy schedule to answer some of my burning questions about the station. The result of this interview is an interesting look at one of the St. Louis area’s most popular stations.
La Tremenda broadcasts out of Highland Illinois, to St. Louis, and the Southwestern Illinois area, and streams on several major platforms such as the popular IHeart radio, Tune in radio, and Euphoria radio. Interestingly, they also have their own free application for smart devices which offers on the go listening to La Tremenda, as well as various articles about news local and worldwide, sports, and celebrities.
The station broadcasts in a regional Mexican format, a tried-and-true broadcasting style in use throughout the country, that incorporates popular new and old songs from nearly every genre of popular Mexican music. Of course, what’s popular is always changing, so I asked General Manager Manuel Rivera what groups were popular lately. His answer: “We have a diverse audience, and the tastes are always changing. Right now, the most requested are Grupo Firme, Banda MS, Banda Adictiva, Los Dos Carnales, Los 2 de Tamaulipas, La Fiera de Ojinaga just to name a few.”
These aforementioned groups have a combined 38,961,069 million monthly listeners on Spotify, for reference, that’s around 800,000 more people than the entire population of Canada, so it’s obvious that La Tremenda has its finger on the pulse of popular music.
Though on air twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, a typical day of programming at La Tremenda begins at seven in the morning, with El Tiro Mananero-- a radio show that incorporates music, weather, listener call-ins, as well as a small amount of news.
Afterward, there’s El Show del Juanco y El Jarocho, a comedy show that focuses on various happenings throughout the world, as well as a hearty number of jokes from the hosts. Much like the morning program, there’s news and music as well.
In the evening, the station is hosted by Cesar Omar de Leon, who covers casual news, of course with music. Things change a little bit on Friday and Saturday nights as the station hosts a number of local D.J.s who make and broadcast their own sets of music.
The station additionally boasts a listenership of up to 18000 people. For reference, that’s almost 4 times the population of Normandy, the city where our university campus is partially located. Seeking to capitalize on the large number of listeners, around 50 local businesses from Missouri and Illinois choose to advertise with La Tremenda.
Despite offering as much or more programming than your typical FM station, this entire show is run by just ten hard-working employees, an impressive feat to be sure.
Besides music and shows, the station also broadcasts all the home Cardinals games in Spanish, for reference, the Cardinals have played around 567 home games since 2014.
If sports aren’t for you, they also hold a number of events and concerts. A comprehensive list would be too cumbersome to describe for an article of this scope, so I asked General Manager Manuel Rivera about the most popular events.
“We host several events throughout the year but some of our biggest events are El Día del Nino, Día de las Madres, our radio anniversary concert, and La Tremenda Posada.”
Their next major event, the radio anniversary concert, won’t be till October, a long way away from now, but I am assured that it will be well worth the wait. This event will be held at the GCS Ballpark in Sauget, on the 8th and 9th of this October, perfectly coinciding with the end of Hispanic Heritage Month, and the station's 8th anniversary. This event will be a massive music festival starting at noon and going until ten at night, with eight bands playing a range of styles of music, like Bachata, Banda, Cumbia, and Norteno.
A few months after that will be La Tremenda Posada, their annual Christmas party, featuring music, food, Santa Claus, the Cardinal’s very own Fred Bird, as well as a gift-giving event organized by local Hispanic businesses.
Despite their great success and prominent role in the local community, La Tremenda, like many businesses, has struggled some during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the closure or downsizing of many local businesses, led to the loss of some of the advertisers with the station. Additionally, several of their popular concerts and events were unable to be held.
Nowadays, things are looking up, with La Tremenda’s events and concerts resuming, an ever-rising listenership, and firm partnerships with local businesses, we’re sure to have many more years of great music in St. Louis
That about wraps up the past and present of La Tremenda, St Louis's only Spanish language radio station, but what about the future? I asked La Tremenda’s General Manager Manuel Rivera, and he offered this profound and insightful statement.
“I see us growing to where we will have an FM radio station. The Hispanic community continues to grow in the St Louis area and their consumer needs have to be met. We would be naïve to think otherwise. Right now, the MLB sees potential in the growth of its market. I hope that other businesses will also see the potential of the Hispanic consumer.”
If you’re interested in listening to La Tremenda, or just curious to learn more, their website is latremenda880.com, and they can be heard on almost any radio.