Radio show directs cultural current through Rider media

by Monique Guz

Last year, Dr. Hernan Fontanet introduced the idea of a bilingual Hispanic radio show, newspaper and television show.
Of the three suggestions, the radio show evolved into an anticipated and well-received program during the spring semester under the name “La Melodia Latina,” broadcast on WRRC by students Valerie Cedeno and Vicky Vera. Fontanet, who teaches Spanish, is now in the process of establishing two more radio shows on campus in German and Chinese, advised by Dr. Margaret Schleissner and Dr. Shunzhu Wang, respectively.
Preliminary discussions have begun for shows in French, Italian and Russian.
“The whole idea is to internationalize Rider University and emphasize a multinational campus,” he said. “Our department has not only proposed the opportunities to study-abroad students or members of specific ethnic origin, but students involved with diversity groups like L.A.S.O. (Latin American Student Organization) and those engaged in the foreign language curriculum as well.”
Since the foundation of “La Melodia Latina,” Cedeno graduated and became employed by Sony for “Court TV,” applying the skills she learned from the bilingual radio show to the interviews she regularly conducts for the cameras. Vera, a sophomore chemistry major, remains on the project with freshman Marlene Perez, who is studying Communication. Fontanet remarked that the DJs “did a great job” incorporating elements of Spanish life not only with music, but also with history, tradition, pop culture and language.
“I love doing the show for the fact that I can share my culture with students on campus as well as residents of Mercer County,” Vera said. “It offers identity.”
Fontanet has already looked toward expanding the multicultural spectrum through other media outlets aside from the radio station. Making arrangements with the Department of Communication and Journalism, Fontanet anticipates the development of a television show entirely in Spanish next semester, highlighting news, politics, concerts, art and movies. Working with Dr. Barry Janes, a Communication professor, he has arranged for the filming to take place in Rider’s television studio.
“This would be a phenomenal learning experience for students,” Janes said. “It gives them the opportunity to get involved with production and editing, all the while encouraging interaction with others in a second language, one that is predominant and reflective of the New Jersey community.”
Students will be working with Diego Maya, a 1997 alumnus who is currently in South America. Maya, owner of Mayasolutionz, is heavily immersed in the marketing and advertising industry, catering exclusively to New Jersey Hispanics. According to the corporate Web site, Mayasolutionz is the “connecting bridge for the Latino community and businesses who have found the need to reach the Latino market, by providing top-notch, quality products and services that are sensitive to both the communities and businesses involved.”
“Diego spearheaded the idea of producing a Spanish television show on campus and having it distributed through Comcast cable,” Janes said.
Participants in the Spanish television program would establish a network of business owners, senators, professionals and major corporations.
“There really is no better experience for students, and the final product of their contributions will be incredibly beneficial to the growing Spanish community,” Janes said.
Currently, both the Department of Foreign Language and Literature and the Department of Communication and Journalism are discussing the possibility of offering two credits to students involved in the production of the Spanish television show.
“The internationalization plan is becoming real with three radio shows in three different languages and a television show entirely in Spanish,” Fontanet said. “It promotes an international-friendly environment and introduces new languages in various aspects of everyday life. People will be exposed to new dialects and listen to music from Germany and from China.”

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