DJs’ role in rallies may be curtailed

first_imgOn Friday, she appeared on Sotelo’s show to support an vigil on Monday. While some heckled her and even challenged, others showed support. With a loyal listenership drawn to the locutures use of regional jokes, music and sensibilities, DJs advice could sway tens of thousands and color how the country sees the debate framed. They are largely credited with bringing out tens of thousands to pro-immigrant rallies in Los Angeles, Chicago and other cities over the last few weeks. It was a coalition of Los Angeles DJs that urged those going to the March 25 rally to wear white and wave American flags, a key visual. Many believe that it was the opposite image of protesters – gripping the Mexican flag while demonstrating against Proposition 187 – that pushed many Californians to vote for the ballot measure banning social services for illegal immigrants. The courts eventually overturned the measure. But the Spanish-language media and especially DJs have become increasingly cautious in using their bullhorn, said Jose Luis Benavides, an assistant professor at California State University Northridge who specializes in Spanish-language media. “There was a concern, in a legitimate way, that the \ demonstration and especially the \ walkouts from students were going to go out of control,” he said. [email protected] (818) 713-3741160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl event“I have to be very careful, I feel responsible for what happens,” said Sotelo, who said he won’t back a boycott. “I don’t want to do anything to hurt my community.” But immigrant rights organizers – from labor unions to political activists – are split over how far they will take any massive mobilization. Some organizers stepped away early on from an economic boycott, saying they did not want to alienate the church, unions or even corporate backers. Other organizers are still pushing it though they promise to back away from the public message if it means losing the support of radio DJs – some who may be racy on the air but shy away actions that could offend their corporate parents. “The Spanish-language radio is critical to our community. It’s a town hall where people can hear what we are talking about,” said Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights. Salas supports a May 1 economic boycott and mass protest if a legislative compromise that includes a path to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants is not reached. But she would not support mass student walkouts. With the immigration reform debate stalled in the Senate, activist organizers are gearing up for a series of protests and vigils against restrictive immigration proposals.Though nobody expects to replicate the massive pro-immigrant rally, organizers energized by early successes look to Spanish language radio to influence millions. Disc jockeys like Eduardo “Piolin” Sotelo on KSCA 101.9 FM and Rena “Cucuy” Almendarez Coello on KLAX 97.9 FM are devoting more segments to call-ins from politicians, organizers and even segments to explain immigration reform. And they – themselves immigrants – are taking a very personal tone with a debate that is roiling the country. While the DJs played advocate during the March 25 rally – even going so far as to broadcast from the downtown rally that drew between 500,000 and a million – this time around they may have to walk a tightrope, trying not to alienate advertisers and listeners, as some organizers call for a May 1 economic boycott and more rallies. last_img read more