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'Talk Television' Serving Latinos

April 15, 1986|MARISON MULL | Mull, a UCLA graduate student, is a Times intern. and

For the Spanish-speaking viewer, there's now more to afternoon television than telenovelas (soap operas). With a phone and a TV, viewers can get toll-free, on-the-air advice from Latino doctors, attorneys, immigration specialists, psychotherapists, Dear Abby-like counselors of the heart and psychics.

"Talk television" is serving the Spanish speaker for the first time through the program "Linea Abierta," ("Open Line"), a three-hour block of programs that debuted April 7 and is seen weekdays at 1:30 p.m. on KSCI-TV (Channel 18 in Los Angeles, Channel 48 in San Diego.)

During the first week of airing, the station reported a large, positive response (about 600 calls a day) from the local Latino community and said that it also received inquiries about the program from several Latino markets across the United States and Puerto Rico.

Among the five major hosts is Portuguese astrologist and local radio personality Maria Graciette, who claimed her tips on the show last week sent a down-on-her-luck caller to a big-money win in Las Vegas. Graciette said the reaction to her part of the show has been "fantastic," with "calls jamming the lines."

Officials at KSCI, which is the country's largest foreign-language TV station--it broadcasts programs in 15 languages--said they believe that putting a talk-radio format on television makes the contact with viewers more intimate and entertaining. They also feel it is an informative, local alternative to the usual afternoon Spanish-language television programming (soap operas), which are mostly produced outside of the country.

The show addresses daily-life issues through five segments: affairs of the heart with "Senorita Corazon" at 1:30 p.m.; psychological advice at 2 p.m.; legal advice (twice a week immigration issues) at 2:30 p.m.; medical information at 3 p.m., and astrology from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. The hosts include six alternates who appear intermittently on the program.

Although calls are screened for seriousness before being tossed on the air for spontaneous comment, almost anything, even the most personal subject, is tackled by the hosts, 10 of whom are women.

"I welcome any question, there's no need for embarrassment," said Dr. Aliza Lifshitz, a winsome Los Angeles internist and clinical pharmacologist from Mexico City, who said her TV "practice" is as much fun as making rounds on the lecture circuit.

The television studio isn't the perfect forum for other lines of work, another host said. "It's very hard to answer things with the cue cards all around you," countered Peruvian psychic Elvira Deval, whose 1986 predictions include a broken left ankle for President Reagan.

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