See the update at the end of this post about the disclosure Eddie “Piolin” Sotelo was accused of sexual harassment before Univision abruptly ended his popular morning radio show.
ORIGINAL POST, JULY 23, 8 A.M.: I've been around the peripheries of radio long enough to understand that radio is a business, that next to modern-day journalism, the squawk box is the epitome of a business that is always looking to dump veterans in place of cheaper, newer, lesser talent. But yesterday's sudden announcement that Univisión Radio is dumping legendary radio personality Eddie “El Piolín” Sotelo stings particularly bad. His morning show, “El Piolín por la Mañana” (which aired locally on KSCA-FM 101.9), wasn't just a daily 5-hour yakfest; it served as the Mexican Pacifica Radio, a place where El Piolín interviewed politicians, doctors, entertainment personalities, but most importantly served as a daily affirmation for his millions of working-class immigrant listeners, those who didn't want to bother with the histrionics of other Spanish-language radio show hosts but instead wanted someone who consistently gave shouts to them with his exhortation, “¿A qué venimos a este país? ¡A triunfar!” (“Why did we come to this country? To triumph!”)
Here's an interview I did with Marketplace, where I used to contribute and I'll hopefully do again sooner rather than later…
While Piolín was more than happy to delve into the double entendres, childish voices, and general wackiness that defines Spanish-language radio hosts, he also showed that audiences could embrace something more substantial, more thoughtful. For chrissakes, El Piolíon, more than any one person, is responsible for the nationwide immigrant marches of 2006, the largest protests in American history; it was he who first proposed the idea among radio personalities, and it was he who brokered an unheard-of on-air meeting of rivals before the marches, a show of solidarity that translated into the masses taking to the streets. That secures his place in American history, as does his story: a teen who entered this country illegally, ended up in SanTana, and went on to change the course of history. (You can find out more about his past in the definitive Piolín profile, written by my compa Ben Quiñones for LA Weekly so long ago…)
All of that, unceremoniously dumped yesterday. Univisión didn't offer any explanation, and Piolín hasn't offered comment, although radio watchers suspect the conglomerate wasn't happy with his falling ratings; he was recently beat in Southern California by rival station KLAX-FM 97.9's Ricardo “El Mandril” Sanchez, and all you need to know about his show is that mandril translates as “baboon.”
On a personal note, Piolín is the reason ¡Ask a Mexican! exists. As I've explained many times before, if it wasn't for Weekly founder/former editor/my mentor Will Swaim seeing an El Piolíon billboard in SanTana, he wouldn't have asked me to create the columna. Piolín was kind enough to introduce me when I won an award from the National Hispanic Media Coalition, presenting me with a copy of that original graphic, which hangs in my home office. A class-act man who'll pop up somewhere soon, because we need him.
UPDATE, JULY 30, 2:28 P.M.: Clockwork Coker sitting in for the vacationing Mexican-in-Chief here. (Vacations for Mexicans? Since when?) Anyway, the other zapato has dropped as Eddie “Piolin” Sotelo was reportedly accused of sexual harassment before Univision abruptly ended his popular morning radio show.
Alberto “Beto” Cortez, who wrote for and was heard on air with Piolin, claims his “boss” had been “physically, sexually and emotionally harassing” him for three years.