Encouragement Media Group kicked off its new Spanish Christian radio station, Fuzión, with a launch party and concert Friday night.
The Encouragement Media family of radio stations currently includes Christian stations KVNE 89.5, Lift 91.3 (previously KGLY) and Evergreen Christmas Radio, with The Well station to launch in February.
The launch event took place at Lanes Chapel United Methodist Church in Tyler and featured a concert by bilingual Christian artist Blanca. The last time she was in Tyler, Blanca performed at CityFest — a church and community festival held in October. The launch concert included songs in both English and Spanish.
“When we looked at the demographics for Texas, by 2022, they’re predicting that Hispanics will be the largest group of people in Texas,” said Troy Kriechbaum, president and CEO of KVNE, when asked about the decision to launch a Spanish Christian radio station.
“We said: ‘We’ve got to do something to reach them.’”
Kriechbaum said Encouragement Media Group wanted to provide an avenue for the Latino community to worship in their own language.
“When they worship, they worship the Lord in their heart language — the language they grew up in, the language that they pray in — and that’s where they can really connect with God.”
At 7:15 p.m., toward the beginning of the event, Blanca pressed a large red button at the front of the auditorium that sent Fuzión on the air for the first time. The first song broadcast on Fuzión was Blanca’s “Preguntas,” which translates to “Questions.”
Fuzión radio is now live at 102.3 and 103.1 FM. The same signal is broadcast over both frequencies, to provide a greater coverage area.
“We will be broadcasting as far north as Mount Pleasant and as far south as Nacogdoches, so it’s a really wide coverage area with over 700,000 people in that area, according to the 2010 census, so we know it’s upwards of that over the last 10 years,” Kriechbaum said.
The name “Fuzión,” was decided by 22 members of the Latino community that Encouragement Media Group brought together as an advisory committee.
“We came up with the name ‘fusion’ or, ‘Fuzión,’ because we see this as a fusing together of our community under the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So, brothers and sisters, different languages, maybe grew up speaking English or Spanish, but together we’re one in Christ.”
The Hispanic advisory committee also came up with the tagline “La Voz de la Armonía,” or “The Voice of Harmony.”
“It’s a play on words, not only the harmony from the music that we play, but it’s also Hispanics and Anglos, and peoples of all colors and nationalities coming together in harmony in our community,” Kriechbaum said.
The message of unity was consistent throughout the event. Blanca shared from the stage that she loved to sing growing up, but often only sang in English.
Blanca is a New York native, but being of Puerto Rican descent, many people encouraged her to also sing in Spanish. “One day you’ll be singing in Spanish as well, and it’s going to bring people together for the kingdom of God.”
Kriechbaum stressed that it was very important to his organization that Fuzión represented the Hispanic and Latino population properly.
“We actually hired people from the community who have a passion for Christian music in Spanish, and who love the Lord, and who are good at what they do to be our on-air DJs. So, we will have Spanish hosts who are from East Texas. … We don’t have people prerecorded from another area outside the state or the country, but right here, local — where you will see us at local Hispanic events, and talking about various events that are in the community that are of Hispanic culture.”
One of those new hires is Ivette Zavarce. Zavarce had served on the board of KVNE for five years, but the opportunity finally presented itself to get more directly involved in Encouragement Media Group with the launch of Fuzión.
“I’m going to be an on-air host, and I’m going to also be the director of community outreach,” Zavarce said. “I’m going to be working with the community and around East Texas, that is part of our mission — to connect the community through Fuzión.”
Zavarce says she’s not just excited about Fuzión for the community’s sake, but she’s excited for herself.
“I don’t think that words can describe the excitement that I have to see, after so many years, the desire that was in my heart to praise and worship in my heart language. Now it’s going to be a reality. I know it’s going to be great for myself, but also, it’s going to be awesome for East Texas because it’s going to help us connect the community to serve, and it’s also going to bring words of hope to many, many people.”