Sound Check

In With the Ole, Out With the Olé

AFTER 15 YEARS of broadcasting, one of Southern California's most beloved Latino DJs has been unceremoniously sacked by his station's new management, Minnesota Public Radio. Before MPR took over KPCC-FM (89.3) in Los Angeles on January 1 (see "All Unquiet on the Western Front"), the company announced plans to switch to an all-talk/all-news format by March 11, thus releasing some 20 DJ volunteers.

Dr. Daniel Castro, known to listeners as Sancho, had hoped to stay on the air. From 6:00 p.m. to midnight every Saturday, The Sancho Show played Latin sounds for every generation, fortified with the host's zealous pro-education message. (The show helped give away between $50,000 and $90,000 in scholarships every year.)

As Skip Heller reported in the March 24 issue of LA Weekly, the proud Chicano DJ says he didn't know his February 26 broadcast would be his last until he was phoned the following Monday by KPCC general manager Cindy Young. "I said, 'I've been doing this show for 15 years, and that's how I'm treated? ...Why can't I do a last show?' And she said, 'We don't believe you need six hours to lament why you're not going to be on the air anymore.'" Young wouldn't comment on private conversations.

Fittingly, Sancho's mix of barrio blues and community views has been replaced by Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion, with its "News from Lake Wobegon." (Peter S. Scholtes)

Raising Dukes Over "Earl"

LAST FALL MY country-lovin' pal Kara and I were cruising the dirt roads outside our meatpacking hometown of Austin, Minnesota, when we heard the "controversial" Dixie Chicks hit "Goodbye Earl" and broke into wicked smiles. We'd never been exactly proud of our weakness for scruffy, drunken country dudes that wooed us with sappy love songs only to screw over their women--and us--in the end. Now here were three of country's most liberated women--previously known for perky, catchy advice about how to hold onto men or get over heartbreak--singing about revenge.

The song is a rather spirited account of murder. A battered wife snuffs her abusive husband with poisoned black-eyed peas. No guilt is attached to the act, and no punishment meted out to the heroine and her best buddy, who wrap Earl in a tarp and throw him into the lake. (Just to make things a bit more interesting, the single includes a cover of "Stand By Your Man.")

Even after a Grammy Awards performance, and a video with Dennis Franz in the title role, "Earl" and the Chicks found themselves banned on radio stations around the nation, including WGTY in York, Pennsylvania, and WKIX in Raleigh, North Carolina. In the Twin Cities, K102 (KEEY-FM 102.1) plays the tune, but only accompanied by a public-service blurb when it's over: "If you are being victimized or are being abusive, there are options and there is help. Call the domestic abuse hotline at Harriet Tubman Shelter at (612) 825-0000."

Judging from the K102 Web site (www.k102.com), reaction to the song has ranged from delight to outrage. Station music director Travis Moon says he understands the public's concern, but defends the decision to play the ditty. "This is a song from one of the biggest music superstars of any genre in the country," he says. "We are kind of in a tough situation, where we had to play the song. But putting a disclaimer on was also to let people know that we can use [the song] to create even more awareness."

In other words, the station can have its hit, cover its ass, and maybe do some good. But has the "disclaimer" really had an effect? "A lot of men have been calling, looking for some help," says Resmaa Menakem at the Harriet Tubman Center, while not clearing up whether these men are batterers or battered. "I know within the last three weeks we've gotten between 10 and 20 calls specifically around the song, people who have said they've heard the song and wanted to get some more information. It's one thing to talk about it, it's another thing to have a solid place where you can get help." (Amy Carlson)

Soul Coffin

THANKS TO EARLY support from the late REV-105(KREV-FM 105.1), New York-based art-hoppers Soul Coughing found a home away from home in the Twin Cities, where they routinely outsold larger national acts. Now the band has announced it will follow the Rev into the dustbin of history, issuing news of its amicable split last month. Perhaps this was inevitable: As side projects accumulated, the group's albums (Irresistible Bliss and El Oso, after the debut Ruby Vroom) yielded diminishing creative returns.

In recent years, keyboardist/sample-geek Mark DeGliAntoni has toured with avant-jazzbo guitarist John Scofield. Drummer Sebastian Steinberg has backed Beth Orton. He and bassist Yuval Gabay have dabbled in drum 'n' bass as the duo UV Ray. And now vocalist M. Doughty has recorded a solo album, while still writing about pop culture for the alt weekly NY Press (under the pseudonym Dirty Sanchez). Here's hoping some fresh collaborators can rejuvenate the Twin Cities' favorite boho beatnerd. (Anders Smith-Lindall)

 
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