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Twenty years in, La Movida Radio keeping the Latino community informed 24/7 as it continues to grow


“When we started, 20 years ago, it wasn’t that easy…because, how can you explain that? You go somewhere and try to convince people to do something that doesn’t even exist,” said Lupita Montoto, co-founder and radio personality for La Movida Radio. “But [my husband] said, ‘Listen, one day, we’re gonna be 24/7. I don’t care if it’s going to take us 10, 20, 40 years. But one day will be 24/7. That was my dream.”

Luis and Lupita Montoto, the co-founders, owners, and hosts of La Movida Radio, Madison’s first and only Spanish-language radio station, met in Mexico back in August of 1998 during a visit by Luis to acquire a patent from the Mexican government’s Department of Commerce. The two became acquainted while Lupita was working, at the time, as a member of the patenting office.

“So he started talking to me and one day [I said,] ‘that’s fine. Let’s go out,’ Lupita remembers. “And then the next day, he was calling again, and then every single day, and then on the radio show that he was working [for], he was always dedicating songs to Lupita.”

Lupita Montoto get ready to go on air.

After six months of dating, Luis proposed to Lupita on Valentine’s Day and the two got married in June. 

“We moved to Wisconsin and I noticed that there was no Spanish radio, and we started looking for airtime on radio stations. And finally, we found one,” said Luis Montoto. “Our first day of running [La Movida Radio] we did for three hours on Sunday.”

Luis and Lupita Montoto in the early days

The official launch date for La Movida Radio was April 30th, 2000. La Movida Radio would soon begin to offer 24/7 programming on Oct. 14, 2002.

“The very first day that we broadcasted, La Movida, we got 20 sponsors,” noted Lupita Montoto. “I mean, we found out that was a huge need [for a Spanish Radio station.]” 

“Back then, 20 years ago, there weren’t that many organizations [for the Latino community]..there wasn’t an outlet,” she added.

Currently, La Movida has numerous sponsors and has expanded to include partnerships with a variety of organizations including El Centro Hispano, Centro Multicultural Católico, United Way, AIDS Network, The Madison Latino Chamber of Commerce, Latino Health Council, Madison College, and UW-Madison.

Lupita and Luis Montoto, owners of La Movida Radio (Photo by A. David Dahmer)

La Movida Radio programming features a variety of musical entertainment. They also host community events in tandem with their partners.

However, beyond entertainment, La Movida also offers its listeners access to information and resources for the Latino community in the Madison area.

“We provide information and news and interview organizations or elected officials of government, local and state and federal entities,” Lupita said.

La Movida Radio has won many awards over the years. Last year, the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association honored them with the “Music Radio Social and Digital Media Station of the Year” award for large markets at the 2019 Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Awards Gala. La Movida Radio 1480 AM brought 7 total awards home from the event that night

Luis Montoto notes that La Movida Radio also acts as a transit for important information.

“We’re kind of the bridge between the Latino community and the general population, the non-Spanish speakers, where we promote a business that wants to outreach to the Latino community,” Luis noted. “And vice versa, the Latino community takes advantage of whatever information and services that these businesses or entities or organizations that want to provide these services to the Latino community,”

“My motto is information is power,” added Luis. “My number one goal is to empower our community, I think it comes full circle. So when we provide information. And by providing information, we empower our community. And that, in itself will eventually come full circle and that just empowers the station.”

A few years ago, La Movida expanded their radio station into Rockford, Ill., with WNTA-La Movida 1330AM. Over the past 20 years, as they continue to grow, Lupita Montoto has noticed that their efforts as a Spanish radio station have greatly affected the community they have been working to support.

Lupita Montoto with husband Luis and the awards for La Movida being recognized as “Station of the Year” by the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association.

“I can see that our community is more informed. They know about resources and opportunities that are out there that organizations or businesses are offering,” Lupita Montoto said.

“In 20 years, we still doing the same things…no matter [what] awards or recognition we have received over the years, we are still the same couple that arrived here 21 years ago with that truck filled with a few wedding gifts and full luggage of dreams,” she adds.

Despite having fulfilled their dreams of becoming a 24/7 news radio, Luis Montoto explained that their work as a station has not finished. 

“I think we’ve done a good job. And it’s not that like, ‘Oh, we’re finished, and we’re done.’ It’s continuous. Every single day,” Luis said. “And the community grows, and the community needs more information.”

Quoting from the movie Field of Dreams, Luis noted that, “if you build it they will come. Lupita and I built it … and they came.”


La Movida Radio can be found on 94.5FM and 1480 AM station 24/7.