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'Voz' is big hit with Hispanics

TV program offers tips for newcomers to Park City

PARK CITY — To paraphrase an old Asian saying, when the viewer is ready, the television program will appear.

And over the past several weeks, "La Voz de las Montanas" (The Voice of the Mountains) has been appearing to many Spanish-speaking residents of Park City to teach them about their brave new world. The program, on Park City's PCTV, has been a hit with Hispanics who are looking for substance more than fluff and who want inside info about how the American system works.

"I worked for Social Services for a time, and that was an eye-opener for me," says Claudia Elena, anchor of the show. "Along the way I started thinking of ways I could help people. That was how this program began."

Although Elena does both news and human-interest pieces, she prefers a no-nonsense approach. When asked if she'd like to interview a celebrity such as Antonio Banderas on the program, she shakes her head.

"No," she says. "I'd like to interview President Bush."

A native of El Salvador, Elena lived in California before moving to Utah. Years ago, as an immigrant, she struggled to learn about her new culture and the opportunities it affords. She says she missed out on many advantages, such as student loans, simply because she didn't know they existed. As a result of her own frustrations, she proposed a segment to PCTV that would help Spanish speakers learn the ins and outs of the American Way.

"The Hispanic population in Park City is growing," says Elena, "and for many of them it is more convenient to watch a television program than to find things to read. Many parents here work two jobs and aren't involved in the lives of their children as much as they'd like. So we try to get them information. Once a month we have a segment about what's going on in the local schools, for example."

"La Voz" also does spots about immigration laws, public health, employment opportunities and recreation. With the Winter Olympics on the horizon, it's likely more and more Hispanics will be looking for work in Park City, and Elena hopes that will mean more interest.

"We already have a large Hispanic community," says station manager Shanton D. Jones, "and our long-term plan now is to expand 'La Voz de las Montanas' to half an hour."

One pleasant surprise is that sponsors have not been hard to come by. Some are naturals, such as Don Pedro's Mexican Restaurant, but others — Menlove Dodge, GLV Real Estate — show that a variety of businesses are starting to view Hispanics as target consumers.

Due to the helter-skelter nature of the schedules Hispanics often work and their tendency to put in a long work day, "La Voz de la Montanas" airs several times at various hours. The show first comes on the air live each Tuesday at 7:10 a.m., then a tape is re-broadcast at 10:10 a.m. The segment is aired again between 1-4 p.m. and then again between midnight and 6 a.m.

Anyone interested in more information about the program should call 1-435-649-0045 or e-mail Stanton, the station manager, at stanton@goparkcity.com.


E-mail: jerjohn@desnews.com