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The Latin Alternative Turns 15

Josh Norek and Ernesto Lechner
Josh Norek
Josh Norek and Ernesto Lechner

Airing Tuesday Nights at 9pm, The Latin Alternative Is Nationally Syndicated By Exit 97.7 & 106.1 WEXT And Airing On 55 Public Radio Stations Each Week, Making It The Most Widely Listened to Latin Music Program on Public Radio Airwaves.

Co-Hosted by Former Albany Native Josh Norek (co-founder, Latin Alternative Music Conference & Nacional Records) and Ernesto Lechner (Rolling Stone, Los Angeles Times), The Program Brings the Best In Cutting Edge Latin Rock, Hip-Hop, Indie, Electronic & Tropical Music to a Wider Audience.

The Latin Alternative Is Also Available In Podcast Format On All Major Streaming Platforms.

“The Latin Alternative,” the country’s first nationally syndicated public radio show specializing in Latin indie, rock, hip-hop, funk, electronic and tropical music, is now celebrating its fifteen year anniversary on Exit 97.7 & 106.1 WEXT. The program recently moved to its new airtime of Tuesday nights at 9pm ahead of the anniversary. The innovative one hour radio program (produced and syndicated nationally by WEXT) continues to bringalternative Latin music to a wider English-speaking audience and has been the subject of coverage by Billboard and the NY Times.

The creation of The Latin Alternative happened by happy accident in 2009. Co-host Josh Norek grew up outside of Albany and left New York for Los Angeles at the start of the new millennium to pursue a career working with the music genre he loved most. Years later while serving as vice president of leading Latin rock/alternative record label Nacional Records, he discovered that his artist Manu Chao was receiving dozens of radio spins per week on the recently launched WEXT. He cold-called program director Chris Wienk to inquire how a Latin Alternative artist could possibly be getting so many spins in Albany of all places. “When Chris discovered that I was originally from the Capital District, he told me I should come in and do a ‘Latin Rock for Gringos’ special the next time I was back in town. I was shocked that a station in Albany was supporting Latin rock and alternative acts. So when I came back to town to visit my folks, I hosted what was intended to be a one-time radio special about Latin Alternative music. But then the station got lots of calls from listeners who really liked the music I played, and Chris asked if I wanted to host a recurring show about Latin Alternative music. Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected my curious call to WEXT to lead to a nationally syndicated program that has endured for fifteen years on more than fifty public radio stations each week!”

“The response to The Latin Alternative and to Josh and Ernesto’s radio dynamic has far exceeded our initial expectation of doing a one-off show that would air just in the Capital District,” says WEXT program director Chris Wienk. “Here we are three hundred and fifty episodes later and we’re airing nationwide on dozens of stations, have a popular podcast edition, and the show even got a great write up in Rolling Stone’s Argentine edition. WEXT has gone global with The Latin Alternative!”

The Latin Alternative currently airs on more than 55 radio stations in the United States; in addition to its Capital District-based parent station WEXT, other key affiliate stations include KCSN (Los Angeles), KKXT (Dallas), WTMD (Baltimore), WEXT (Albany) and WRUR (Rochester). The show’s producer is Dave Michaels.

The Latin Alternative’ is co-hosted by two of the genre’s leading experts, former Albany native Josh Norek (co-founder of the Latin Alternative Music Conference, former VP of Nacional Records, and president of music royalties firm Regalías Digitales) and Ernesto Lechner (contributing writer for the LA Times, Rolling Stone and author of the book ‘Rock enEspañol: The Latin Alternative Rock Explosion’). The program recently enjoyed significant attention following co-host Ernesto Lechner’s high profile Rolling Stone feature article ‘The 50 Best Latin American Rock Albums.’

The Latin Alternative’ features a mix of high profile artist interviews and the latest new music; Among the artists to appear on the show in recent years are such Grammy and Latin Grammy-winning acts as Natalia Lafourcade, Los Lobos, Jorge Drexler, Cimafunk, Bomba Estereo, Eddie Palmieri, Los Amigos Invisibles, Ana Tijoux, Alex Cuba, Ozomatli, Diamante Electrico and Jaguares.