During a Baltimore Ravens game broadcast on La Nueva 87.7 FM, play-by-play announcer David Andrade and color commentator Gustavo Salazar communicate football terminology to their audience in Spanish and English, narrating the game in a clear way while educating listeners who may be new to the sport.
But Andrade and Salazar have one exception: touchdown, a term so synonymous with football that it doesn't have to be replaced or duplicated. Andrade explained he becomes more and more enthusiastic as the Ravens march toward an opponent's end zone, much like soccer broadcasters who become more animated as a player streaks toward the net with the ball.
And then when the Ravens punch it in?
"If you're close to the end zone, I get all my excitement in so that when there's a touchdown, I sing it like it's freakin' soccer," said Andrade, who was a soccer color commentator in Ecuador before moving to the United States in 2003. "That's the part that people like because it's excitement. People when listening on the radio, they're like, 'Oh my God, I can just listen to you guys all day because it's very exciting.' So that's the part that we're doing very differently."
One touchdown at a time, Andrade, Salazar and do-it-all dynamo Ximena Lugo-Latorre are aiming to connect the local Spanish-speaking community to the Ravens throughout the 2019 season with La Nueva, the team's new official Spanish broadcast partner. All three are radio veterans who have worked on football broadcasts in the past.
Lugo-Latorre assists with the production of the broadcast and reports from the sideline, locker room and news conferences. With her help, the broadcast team can connect its audience not just to the game, but to the players themselves.
Lugo-Latorre had tight end Mark Andrews read a La Nueva promo aloud in Spanish, a task Lugo-Latorre said Andrews executed "perfectly." She also interviewed linebacker Matthew Judon after the Ravens' preseason game against the Green Bay Packers Aug. 15, which just so happened to be Judon's 27th birthday.
"I interviewed him in the locker room and I said to him in Spanish, 'Happy birthday, feliz cumpleaños!' And he was excited," Lugo-Latorre said. "He was saying, 'Thank you,' in Spanish. He was saying, 'Gracias.' I really like how the players are very inclusive with the Spanish speakers, with the Spanish community."
The partnership is the brainchild of Andrade and La Nueva co-owner Julio Arquinio. Andrade was the play-by-play broadcaster for Ravens games on Radio La Jefa 700 AM in 2018, the first season the Ravens had a Spanish-speaking broadcast partner. But with Radio La Jefa not broadcasting the games in 2019, Andrade sought out a new home to call Ravens games.
Silver Spring, Md.-based La Nueva, which launched in 2009, had broadcasted D.C. United games in the past. Andrade reached out to Arquinio about the station potentially broadcasting Ravens games, and the two men had productive conversations with the team about a partnership. La Nueva agreed to a three-year deal with the Ravens this summer.
"I think this year is going to be like a test and then the following years to come, we'll definitely have more time to pitch to clients and get more money out of there," Arquinio said, referring to potential sponsorships. "We'll see how it works out. We're confident that this is a good partnership for both of us."
"We consistently seek opportunities to grow our fan base and further connect with Ravens fans," Ravens executive vice president of public and community relations Kevin Byrne said. "The partnership with WDCN La Nueva 87.7 FM helps strengthen our bond with Hispanic and Latino fans, all while generating new excitement among prospective Ravens supporters throughout the Mid-Atlantic area."
La Nueva will broadcast every game, including playoff contests. A playoff run would be nothing new to Salazar, who had been doing color commentary for Philadelphia Eagles games since 2013. He called the Eagles' victory against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII for La Mega 105.7 FM, an experience he called a "dream come true." He commuted to Philadelphia from the Washington, D.C., area for every home game.
But Salazar had long kept an eye on the Ravens. The Maryland native has been a football fan since the mid-1980s and attended his first game at M&T Bank Stadium in 1998, the year the stadium opened. He loved watching Ravens legends Ray Lewis and Ed Reed and drew inspiration from Lewis, whose motivational speeches are well known.
Salazar has worked on La Nueva's morning show since 2012, which made for a smooth transition when he decided to leave the Eagles.
"When I announced and told everyone I'm doing the Ravens, it was just like everybody was 100 percent behind me on this," Salazar said. "The exchange to them is that I'm going to teach them football because a lot of them don't really know football. But the way that I broadcast the games, it's kind of like a tutorial."
Salazar brought along Lugo-Latorre, who produced La Mega's Eagles broadcasts in 2018, to round out La Nueva's Ravens team. Lugo-Lattore loves the response she's gotten from listeners so far.
"People are really enjoying and engaging," she said. "They're feeling like, for the first time, they have a station that is talking the language that they speak and they have the team that they love -- the Ravens."
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Gustavo Salazar
Issue 257: September 2019
Originally published Sept. 16, 2019