We last featured Sylvia Banderas Coffinet in 2020 when she was the publisher and chief revenue officer at HOLA! USA. At the time, she lamented how behind the curve mainstream media was in terms of Latinx representation, so she devoted herself—on and off the clock—to change that.
Today, I (along with Hispanic Executive and the rest of the Latino media community) are celebrating Banderas Coffinet as she becomes CEO of the Latino Media Network, the Hispanic media company that launched last year with $80 million in funding.
We caught up with our dear friend to get a more personal look at her latest ground-breaking effort to showcase the beauty and complexity of US Latinos in the media.
You were already a celebrated leader in our community but now, you are at the helm of one of the most impactful Latino media companies. How are you feeling?
I am experiencing various emotions like enthusiasm, pride, excitement, optimism, and overwhelming gratitude for the two visionary founders, Stephanie Valencia and Jessica Morales Rocketto, who have entrusted me to take the helm at the Latino Media Network (LMN). Together we have beat incredible odds to be one of the only and maybe even the first Latina-owned and led media company in the US at this scale.
As a business leader, I am giddy with the tremendous commercial potential of LMN. In addition, I can’t imagine a more critical time to engage, serve, and connect with the Latino community, given the reality of the economic and demographic growth, as well as the cultural influence Latinos represent in twenty-first century America. There’s no denying it’s our time—from Bad Bunny to Peso Pluma—we now undeniably define American mainstream culture.
You’ve spent most of the last two decades in media and publishing with some of the biggest names in both mainstream and Latino media. Tell us what attracted you to the Latino Media Network. What makes this different?
LMN is owned, operated, and led by Latinas. Even though I’ve worked, directed, and even launched some of the most recognized Latino-focused brands in the world, like People en Español, Latina, and Hola! USA, this is the first time in my career I can say I work for a brand that is owned and led [and] that is truly for and by us! I felt an instant connection to LMN’s vision and mission of harnessing cultural pride by amplifying our voices, stories, leaders, language, and possibilities. If to belong is to matter, then who belongs really matters!
For too long, Latinos have been made to feel like we are “ni de aquí, ni de allá” and the reality is that we need to reclaim and redefine belonging to both worlds for ourselves in our terms until we can all say, “soy de aquí y soy de allá.” At LMN, it is a core belief that fostering belonging is essential to creating a more equitable society.
Could you talk about harnessing the power of this network and Latino audiences through LMN?
How you are portrayed in the media, or even a complete lack of portrayal, affects the collective social perception. Media is powerful. We haven’t had equitable access, much less ownership. Our stories matter, and who gets to tell our stories matters just as much, if not arguably more. It’s not enough to talk about our communities. It’s time we get the mic and tell our stories for ourselves.
Radio is still king and continues to be the number one medium reaching Latinos, with a whopping 97 percent of the Latino population tuning into radio weekly! At LMN, we reach 30 percent of the US Latino population, with our stations in eight out of the top ten markets. We know we can build complementary media strategies in digital, social, video, and podcast extensions to enrich our offering and serve our community.
What can you tell all the Latino media talent who are searching for a new company to call home but worried about the future of media?
The one thing I’ve learned is that change is a constant in the media industry. I try not to spend my time and energy worrying or fearing because I don’t find that has ever served me or anyone. I encourage anyone interested in media to put their best foot forward and maintain an iron will to succeed because we need more Latinos in the media industry. We need to be in the rooms where decisions are made on what stories get told and who gets to tell them.
We deserve to control and amplify our cultural narratives, invest in our creators, and support our communities. There is so much need for representation at this critical time where Latinos are a future-proofing strategy for all brands and companies as the engine of demographic and economic growth.
What will success look like for LMN in the next one, three, or ten years? Alternatively, what do you hope will be LMN’s legacy?
Our commitment to the Latino community is at the heart of LMN’s story. Success looks like honoring and celebrating our differences because we are not a monolith, yet we can unite under the universal experience of Latinidad. Building a company that celebrates and serves the full spectrum of the Latino community will set us apart and move us forward as an industry.
The legacy of LMN will be to establish deep roots in radio and grow branches across multichannel offerings that are as diverse and authentic as the community we serve.