Sunday, March 20, 2005

The Sancho Show - KPCC Station - Show Canceled (PART ONE)

Sancho’s Out, but Not Down
The dumping of L.A.’s No. 1 Chicano DJ


KPCC’s dropout: Daniel Castro,
a.k.a. Sancho

For those whose mornings became eclectic via KCRW, Saturday night on KPCC must have seemed schizophrenic, with its barrio mix of rhythm & blues, corridos, boleros, vintage Chicano rock — and preaching.

The fiercely proud Chicano DJ was as exuberant as they come. For six hours every Saturday night for 15 years, The Sancho Show delivered a mix of multigenerational Latin sounds, punctuated with a strong pro-education message.

Dr. Daniel Castro, known to listeners as Sancho, quickly became a beloved L.A. radio treasure. Ecstatic and dogmatic, Sancho kept his audience entertained and motivated, with lines like “Remember — no school, no class.” In return, Sancho took no pay; inspiring young and old alike was enough of a reward for the 50-year-old educator.

On March 11, KPCC’s music DJs said farewell as part of the public radio station’s shift to an all-news format. That is, all except Sancho, who was dismissed on February 28, two days after the broadcast he didn’t know was his last. Media coverage of his ouster has been critical, and questioning of the decision to send him packing. Years ago, when KRLA — a whole station targeted at Chicano listenership — went all-talk, the change was noted quietly. But Sancho’s dismissal has upset many people, whose messages appear on Sancho’s Web site: They write, “It was inspiration. It was pride. It was home.”

How did one DJ do so much to capture the minds and imagination of thousands of Southland listeners? Well, for starters, he gave away between $50,000 and $90,000 in scholarships every year. He helped turn lives around for the better.

“My dad died when I was 14, and I got into drugs, alcohol, gang violence, dropped out of school, homelessness — all the usual shit,” says Daniel Gerrardo, a Sancho scholarship recipient who will graduate from USC on May 12. “I used to listen to his show, and his message — ‘No school, no class’ — stuck with me. I was touched by his concern for the individual, even if he’d never met the person. I got involved in the community and went back to school because of his message — coaching Little League, East L.A. College at night for five years, then was given the scholarship when I transferred to USC. Now I go to schools and jails and talk to kids about staying straight. Sancho was an inspiration for me to do that.”

The Sancho Show was community programming at its best. Dozens of students have benefited, and the vocal loyalty of his listenership — KPCC has received a great many complaints about the cancellation, in addition to the negative press — is evidence of Sancho’s effect.

Even without radio credentials, Sancho is impressive. His day job is pure suit-and-tie — vice president of academic affairs at Mission College in Sylmar, with a B.A. in sociology, a master’s in urban affairs and a doctorate from Union Collegiate College. Dr. Castro speaks like an educated man, and with precision. Sancho spoke pure barrio.

“We all live in two different worlds — home and work,” he says, “I have a posture I carry as a college administrator, but at home I talk as I’d talk when I grew up. On the program, I’m home, and I speak as I would to my family.”

The Sancho Show fueled his real cause, the annually awarded Quetzalcoatl Memorial Scholarship Fund, established in memory of his son, who died at age 8 in a car crash.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

The music was outstanding but Sancho had a huge ego...he turned off and turned away alot of good people including musicians. He developed a big ego.It was great to listen to the show and the programming but he talked over the music, never gave out the name of the artists and only promoted himself.

2:31 PM  
Anonymous rudedog said...

I agree! thats too bad, also i wanted to hear those songs without him always jumping in every few seconds. I respected his view on education and promoting its value and importance. I miss the Chicano Music Awards.

5:30 PM  
Anonymous Tonantzin Castro said...

I must agree with the above two posted comments. Sancho began his radio show with the support of a wife and two small children which would join the show on occasion. Not many people know that one Thanksgiving when his daughter was 6 and his son (Quetzalcoatl) was 8, he was to make a drive to visit his wife's family to commemorate her mother's (Yahrtzeit) or memorial of her passing. The day they were to leave on the trip and his son came to give him a hug goodbye, Sancho pushed him away and told him , "Get in the van, your mom is waiting for you." The next day, Sancho received a call from the Salt Lake Highway Patrol telling him his son had been killed and the status of his wife, sister in-law and daughter was unknown. And because of Sancho's guilt at pushing his young son away before his small heart was crushed for a second time under the van on that Utah highway, he created the Quetzalcoatl Memorial Scholarship. The irony of it all is that based on his views on Chicanos pursuing higher education, one would think that Sancho would have practiced what he preached. But the unfortunate truth is that he checked his half-dead and badly traumatized wife out of William Beaumont Hospital against the doctors wishes, brought her and their 6 year old daughter home to Pasadena and left them. He since remarried a woman (I use the term loosely) who has a white son & daughter and is living high on the hill while his only daughter, Tonantzin, the one who wiped her brother Quetzalcoatl's blood off the suitcases after the car accident, was not afforded her own brother's scholarship for her college education. How do I know all of this? I was there, I am Tonantzin and I have a $39,000 student loan from Sallie Mae...This man's ego is just the tip of the iceberg.

12:45 PM  

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