In a move aimed at recapturing past ratings glory, Univision Communications Inc. has unveiled a new morning radio show called "El Bueno, la Mala y el Feo" (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly), which emphasizes popular regional Mexican music and banter by a trio of hosts.
The four-hour Spanish-language program, which launched Monday on Univision's Los Angeles station KSCA-FM (101.9), fills the time period previously held by Eddie "Piolin" Sotelo.
Sotelo once was the most popular personality in Spanish-language radio. But in July, after a period of deteriorating ratings, Univision yanked Sotelo's program from its schedule amid allegations of sexual harassment, which Sotelo has denied.
At his peak, Sotelo's show was heard on about 50 radio stations nationwide. He now hosts a morning program on SiriusXM satellite radio.
Since last summer, Univision has filled the morning hours at its top 10 station in Los Angeles with regional Mexican music. Radio stations around the country that depended on Piolin were left scrambling to plug the gap left by Univision's sudden termination of Sotelo's radio program.
"Univision has a tremendous challenge to try to reverse the steep ratings declines after the cancellation of Piolin's show perhaps not as much in Los Angeles but in other markets," said Adam Jacobson, a Spanish-language media consultant.
Although Univision's Los Angeles station has held its own in the ratings, those in other markets, including Phoenix, have seen audience members flee to rival stations, Jacobson said.
Univision's new program is a blend of regional Mexican music and topical conversation among the three personalities: Raul Molinar "El Bueno," Sylvia del Valle "La Mala" and Andres Maldonado "El Feo." Maldonado has worked at Univision's Los Angeles station.
"It's a new concept. We think it is an innovative format that is going to resonate with the audience," said Evan Harrison, Univision Radio's executive vice president of content and entertainment. "It's going to be a balance of talk and music — but be more music-intensive."
Univision joins a growing group of media companies that have tweaked their formats after discovering that music programs were delivering higher ratings than traditional talk shows.
The three hosts on Univision's new show will try to blend humor, sarcasm and interviews — standard fare for radio. Univision said the new hosts are "regular people" who will talk about trending topics culled from social media.
"We are calling it reality radio," Harrison said. "The hosts will talk about topics that our listeners are interested in."
In addition to Univision's Los Angeles station, the new show airs in Houston, San Antonio, El Paso and in the Rio Grande Valley. The show will run in the midday hours in Houston and the other Texas stations. Univision also plans to introduce the show in San Diego, San Francisco, Fresno, Phoenix, Albuquerque, Dallas and Chicago.