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It’s International Women’s Month, and the two longest-serving radio hosts in Las Cruces are women.
In March of 2000, Fiesta host Emily Guerra and Intermezzo host Leora Zeitlin were offered radio shows on KRWG-FM, now KRWG Public Media, by then-General Manager Colin Gromatzky. Each has been on the air continuously for 20 years.
General manager Adrian Velarde said the duo’s longevity is breathtaking.
“Twenty years at one radio station is an amazing feat,” he said. “In an age of conglomeration and automation in media, it is mainly due to the passionate support of their respective audiences that drives KRWG Public Media to continue with their shows. That, and they produce fantastic radio shows.”
Guerra’s show, Fiesta (Monday - Friday, 7-9 p.m.) offers an eclectic mix of Spanish music in a bilingual format. Guerra seamlessly switches from Spanish to English, introducing the music and telling stories about the various artists. Beyond border Spanish music, Guerra features music from all Latin American countries.
“When I first started with the program, I had decided to start with an instrumental such as Flamenco,” Guerra said. “I mix each set with local, national and international music. My predecessors presented the program all in Spanish. But because we are a bilingual state, I felt we should include all of our listeners, I chose to present the music in a bilingual format. We get to know other Latin countries and travel the world with music without leaving the comfort of our homes.”
In 2019, Guerra won an award from “Premios de la Gente” in El Paso for best radio on-air announcer, competing with personalities from El Paso and the border region.
Accolades are nothing new for Intermezzo host Zeitlin (Thursday and Friday, 2-4 p.m.), who was recognized by the National Press Women Association with a 2019 award for her interviewing skills. Zeitlin also has won awards from the New Mexico Press Women Association
Intermezzo is a classical music show that spans music from the Renaissance to the 21st century. Each piece is either handpicked by Zeitlin or requested by her audience.
“I was hearing music even before I was born, because my father was the concert violinist Zvi Zeitlin, and he practiced all the time at home,” Zeitlin said. “I love many kinds of music, and I’m always delighted to include other genres on Intermezzo, like jazz, Broadway or world music. When I’m at home, you may find me dancing to Motown, which I also grew up with in Manhattan.”
In an era where radio music programming is digitized to be played on a computer using algorithms or consultants, both Fiesta and Intermezzo are unique in that the playlists are hand-selected by both announcers, who still use CDs and records.
“There is just something special about handpicking music,” Zeitlin said. “But I love taking requests, and my listeners have introduced me to a great deal of music over the years. It’s a great opportunity to find out who’s listening and what they like to hear, and I enjoy chatting with them.”
Guerra agreed that interacting with the audience is key.
“My audience is from all of our listening areas, some Hispanic and non-Hispanic,” she said. “Many of our listeners do not speak Spanish fluently and thank me for the bilingual format, saying they are learning Spanish through my program. I interact with the audience with listener requests and local interviews.”
After 20 years in the booth, both Guerra and Zeitlin still share a passion for their respective shows, as does the radio audience.
KRWG Public Media will air an interactive live Voice of the Public radio show on from 1-2 p.m., Friday, March 20, so that listeners can share stories with Guerra and Zeitlin on 90.7 FM and krwg.org.