Rios, a longtime Latino disc jockey, TV show host, and entertainer, led his co-hosts through an entertaining first morning on the air, which included discussions of community events, plenty of upbeat music, and laughter. Mrs. Rios provided translation during a program that frequently went back and forth between English, Spanish, and at times, Spanglish. Rios jokingly referred to his long-time radio partner and friend as “Rico Pico.”
The trio is trying to reconnect with a Latino audience that has not had much local presence on FM radio since Lady Di [Diana Avina] gave up her Adrian, Michigan-based weekend show last year to spend more time with her family. The hosts even took song dedications on the air.
[Linda Parra hosts a one-hour radio program called Nuestra Gente on WCWA 1230AM, Toledo, every Saturday beginning at noon; Jimmy Bejarano Jr. can occasional be heard in Toledo, airing on Sunday, 1:00 to 4:30PM on WLEN 103.9FM, Adrian MI.]
The hope is to reach Latino listeners well beyond metro Toledo—as far as Adrian, Milan, and downriver Detroit, as well as farther east along Ohio’s north coast toward Lorain. Rios stated the radio station has a reach of about a 50-mile radius beyond metro Toledo. There also is an online audience to build along the way. The “El Lobo Radio Show” streams live via the Internet at the radio station website, www.1077wolf.com.
“First of all, we want it to be entertaining. We don’t want people to get bored,” said Rios. “We also want it to be informative, so people know what’s going on in the community. Basically we want it to be about starting something positive here in the Latino community.”
For example, Rios, who works during the week at the Toledo Jeep Assembly complex, gave a shout-out to his co-workers on the Liberty assembly line. Rios has worked 15 years for Chrysler. That prompted a discussion about rebounding U.S. auto sales and the Detroit Auto Show.
Rios admitted the first show was a learning experience, because he had to run 107.7 The Wolf’s digital audio board. The country music station itself has been on the air less than a year. That fact prompted regular listeners to call the studios, in addition to Tejano fans who wanted to dedicate a song.
“We had people there for a while calling in, wondering what was going on, saying ‘Why am I hearing all this Mexican music?!?’” Rios recalled with a laugh.
The co-hosts also promoted Latino events across the region, spanning both sides of the Ohio and Michigan border. The radio show served as sort of an on-air companion to La Prensa, as Neller cited articles and events within the pages of his weekly newspaper.
Rios and Neller have teamed up over the years at various times for on-air ventures similar to their latest radio show. One such show aired on WCWA-AM 1230, but the radio signal never reached very far beyond Toledo, unlike their current FM signal.
Rios is hoping to secure some corporate sponsors for the radio show, to at least “break even” on the venture. He and Neller currently pay for the air time out of their own pockets. Both men will be trying to sell radio sponsorships for the show so they can cover their costs.
“So we can maintain that gap that the Hispanic community has been lacking here in Toledo,” he explained. “So many Latinos, especially on the Tejano scene, we’ve never had a radio show. Too bad we don’t have our own radio station. It’d be awesome if we had something like that.”
Rios also DJs on Saturday evenings at El Vaquero restaurant at The Docks in East Toledo, giving Latino couples and others a chance to dance to meringue, salsa, and Tejano music there.
He has had a regular weekend DJ gig for at least four years: previously at Tango’s and Cinco de Mayo before heading to El Vaquero when it opened its location at The Docks.
Rios and his wife also host the local television show “Voces Latinas.” Rios joked that his wife of six years pulled him “out of retirement” to resume his entertainment business. Rios now has been doing the TV show since 1995.
Mrs. Rios was an attorney in Colombia before coming to the U.S. She works now as a paralegal, but will attend the University of Toledo School of Law starting in the spring. Rios explained his wife needs 30 credit hours in order to take the bar exam in Ohio and become a lawyer stateside in roughly a year to 18 months.
“I just hope they enjoy what we have and if they can support us in any way, it’s always great to hear from them,” said Rios.
The trio is hoping to build an interactive audience through a Facebook group page dedicated to the “El Lobo Radio Show.” That is how Latino listeners can reach each of the show’s hosts.