April 12, 2006
Bloomberg Gives Bilingual Welcome to the Latin Grammys
By BEN SISARIO
New York Times
Two weeks ago, for the announcement of a hip-hop awards show, he was "Mike B," and City Hall was his "crib." This time, he was "el Señor Salsa."
At a bilingual news conference at City Hall yesterday that featured his somewhat tortured Spanish, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced that the Latin Grammy Awards would be coming to New York for the first time. The awards are to be held on Nov. 2 at Madison Square Garden and broadcast live by the Univision television network.
"On the streets of our city you can hear the entire scale of Latin music," Mr. Bloomberg said. "From Mexican norteño to contemporary salsa to reggaetón to Latin jazz — one of our great contributions to the world of music — we're home to an incredible tradition."
Surrounded by members of his administration, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, representatives of the Latin Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and the Latin music stars Willie Colón, Johnny Pacheco and India — who pumped her fist and cheered quietly throughout the mayor's speech — Mr. Bloomberg said that like the Country Music Association Awards last November, and the VH1 Hip Hop Honors and MTV Video Music Awards later this year, the Latin Grammys would show off New York as "the world's second home" and a prime stage for major media events.
"Hay solamente un Nueva York" ("There is only one New York"), Mr. Bloomberg said, signing a pair of bongo drums with a black marker to commemorate the occasion.
First held in 2000, the Latin Grammys have been presented in Los Angeles and Miami, and Mr. Bloomberg said that NYC Big Events, a city office that tries to bring high-profile shows and contests to the city, had been after the Latin Grammys for three years.
As with the 39th annual Country Music Awards last fall, there will be a week of activities building up to the Latin Grammys, including concerts and retail and restaurant specials, Mr. Bloomberg said. The event will generate $30 million for city businesses, according to an estimate by the city's Economic Development Corporation.
Last year's country awards show received mixed reviews, with some critics calling it an awkward alliance that was unlikely to have a long-lasting effect on either country music or New York City. But it drew a large television audience: an estimated 18.39 million watched its broadcast on CBS, according to Nielsen Media Research.
The Latin Grammys have had a rocky history — plans to stage the show in Miami in 2001 were scrapped over fears of protests from Cuban-Americans who objected to its recognition of what they called pro-Castro Cuban singers and musicians — and its ratings have been erratic. Inaugurated amid the Latin-pop trend that first brought Ricky Martin and Marc Anthony to the mainstream, the show's first broadcast had nearly 7.5 million viewers, still its highest audience.
Last year, after its network audience dropped to 3.25 million, the show went from CBS to Univision, which expanded it to three hours from two and broadcast it entirely in Spanish. It had a ratings spike, climbing to 5.07 million, according to Nielsen.
The show is to be broadcast to 100 countries around the world.
The nominees for the awards are to be announced in New York on Sept. 26. Gabriel Abaroa, the president of the Latin recording academy, said at the news conference that a host had not yet been chosen for the show. But Mr. Bloomberg quickly added, "It will really depend on how well my Spanish is."