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Local radio station's 'positives vibes' will soon reach Canyon County listeners

A screengrab of Tropico FM programming. Four shows are listed, their names are above a picture of a logo or the host. La Libra 8-10pm Wednesday, Latino Takeover Mixshow Saturdays 12-1pm, Live at the Hive! 10-11pm Wednesdays, Mundo Mungo Every Tuesday 4-6pm.
Screenshot
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Tropico FM website
Tropico FM’s Latino vibes – anywhere from samba to cumbia, bossa nova to Afrobeats and latin jazz – mostly reaches northern, central and downtown Boise, but sometime after the new year, the signal will make it all the way across the Treasure Valley.

A local Latino radio station in Boise will soon reach listeners all the way to Canyon County.

Tropico FM’s Latino vibes are currently broadcast from an antenna on the roof of founder Kyle Scheffler’s house in the North End of Boise. The station’s mix of music – anywhere from samba to cumbia, bossa nova to Afrobeats and Latin jazz – mostly reaches northern, central and downtown Boise. But sometime after the new year, the signal will make it across the Treasure Valley.

Born and raised in Boise, Scheffler fell in love with Brazilian and Latino music a decade ago.

“Latino music changed my life,” he said. “I couldn't imagine a world without it.”

Tropico FM started as an artist collective with locals Irvin Brown, Lupe Galvan and Lobo Lara in 2018. Their goal was to bring local talent to Boise’s more mainstream scene. A few years later, Scheffler was able to obtain a radio license and Tropico FM was born.

“I saw that there was a lot of Latino talent in the Treasure Valley, but they weren't really being heard, or they weren't getting the attention that they deserved,” he said. In addition to broadcasting, the station also organizes events and shows in the community.

Scheffler said he wants listeners to feel the warmth of Latin American music coming through their speakers.

“I want people to enjoy something a little bit different than what they're used to hearing on the radio,” he added.

He said unlike commercial radio, where DJs often don’t get to choose what they play, the programmers on Tropico get to bring their own personalities to their shows.

Dan Lopez, aka DJ Dan, plays mostly cumbia and norteño music on his Wednesday evening show. That’s why he called his show La Vibra – the vibe, in Spanish.

He’s all about bringing positives vibes and joy to the airwaves.

“My goal is to get people to dance. My goal is to get people to treat Wednesday like a Friday,” he said. “Thank God it’s Miercoles!” he likes to say during his program, which airs on Wednesday from 8-10 p.m.

Most shows on Tropico are in English, but DJ Dan‘s show is bilingual. He wants his show to sound like one of his family barbecues, where everyone speaks some sort of spanglish. He said that’s the appeal of Latino Music: the beats don’t need translation.

“Whether you speak the language or not, you can follow along with the program and you know exactly what I'm saying,” he said.

Founder Scheffler said when Tropico FM sets up a booth at a market or festival, he sees how much the community wants alternatives to mainstream radio.

“I get a lot of positive feedback, both from Latinos and Non-Latinos,” he said. “They always say something like, 'Boise needs this,’ or ‘Treasure Valley needs this.’”

Latinos are the fastest-growing community in Idaho. They make-up about 13% of the state population, but account for 24% of the growth over the last decade. Canyon County, where Tropico FM will soon broadcast, has the largest Latino population in Idaho.

DJ Dan said Idaho has a long way to go in terms of diversity, but as the Latino community continues to grow, he sees how popular genres like reggaeton or banda have become. He moved to Idaho from Texas as a kid and is Tejano through and through.

“Growing up, I listened to this,” he said. “This has been my culture my entire life and to know that more and more people are embracing it, it's pretty freaking cool.”

One of his earliest memories is listening to the radio. He hopes his show can make a difference in other young Mexican-Americans’ lives today.

“What excites me is that one day my radio program is going to be on some five-year-old kid's radio as he sits on the porch and listens to it but in Canyon County," he said.

Tropico FM will move their antenna to Table Rock in early 2024 and will soon bring those good vibes to more listeners in the Treasure Valley.

Listen to Tropico FM live on 103.1 or online.

As the Canyon County reporter, I cover the Latina/o/x communities and agricultural hub of the Treasure Valley. I’m super invested in local journalism and social equity, and very grateful to be working in Idaho.

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