Latina DJs Hit the Airwaves



by Vanessa Garcia

Ever wonder what it’s been like to be a DJ at your favorite radio station?  Have you pondered the possibilities of radio waves but never really knew how to get your foot in the door?  I spoke with the Bay Area’s hottest Latina DJ’s and they gave me their insights on their radio careers, and what it’s taken them to get where they are today.

On air host Letty B just ended her gig at KDON for the big city lights of San Francisco’s Movin’ 99.7.  She recently launched her radio career only two years ago from Palm Springs.  Letty got her start in radio on the street team in Los Angeles, attending concerts, clubs, and promoting events. From an early age, Letty knew her calling was in radio. 

Dreena Gonzalez, from Wild 94.9, began as an intern about a year out of high school, working with street promotions and the sales department.  According to Dreena, the street team was a great way to get her foot in radio’s door.  It showed her the in’s and out’s of the business, and most importantly, how street promotions and events are orchestrated.

One of the most exciting aspects of radio, are the musicians, actors, and comedians who appear on the show.  I asked Dreena who her most memorable on air guests were, they included Ice Cube, Lady Gaga, and Beyonce.  “He was very down to earth and chill,” was her description of Ice Cube.  She had the chance to interview Lady Gaga just before she hit the bigtime.  “She’s very eccentric, intriguing, humble, sweet, and down to earth.”  On Beyonce, “Stunning!”

Angel de La Kalle, from 105.7 & 100.7 in San Francisco, has always been interested in the arts.  Her outgoing personality made her a perfect fit for radio.  Her interest grew when she enrolled in the radio & television program at San Francisco State University.  There, she took an internship for Clear Channel and was later hired on the promotions staff.  She was with Wild 94.9, until the Latin explosion went off with reggaetóneros Daddy Yankee and Don Omar popped up.  Her persistence in getting hired landed her a position at Estero Sol, through Univision, and is now with La Kalle. 

I asked the women what they liked best about working in radio, and all three of them raved at how much they love their jobs.  And who doesn’t like talking to people and listening to music?!  The radio stations have served as a second family for these women.  Letty B, whose family resides in Los Angeles, said that her co-workers at KDON made her feel completely at home in a town she was unfamiliar with.  Everyday day is something new and exciting, whether it’s laughing it up with a musician, talking to callers, or attending events, these women landed their dream job.  And that’s something that’s always great to hear.  Angel said that in addition to the fun and friendly atmosphere, she’s also been able to give back to her community, working with various community organizations, such as St. Judes Children’s hospital.

Interestingly, the rise in social networking has not hindered radio.  It’s actually given radio another outlet to communicate with their audience.  Twittter, MySpace, Facebook, and YouTube are some of the non-traditional aspects of radio that further connected listeners to events, promotions, and music.

Some of the challenges these women faced in their career have been a lack of Latina role models in radio.  Angel described her challenge was not having anyone to look up to in her path to radio.  Interestingly, she found out years later that her great grandmother had a radio show in San Francisco when she was little.  Perhaps radio is in her blood.  With the rise of Latino demographics, many Latina DJ’s have actually been in demand, according to Letty B.  Stations in certain areas want radio hosts who are relatable to their audience, and who’s better at that than a funny, smart, and sophisticated Latina?

Advice for future Latina DJ’s of America?  Hard work, perseverance, making sacrifices, accepting rejection, and most importantly – education.  A bachelor’s degree in communications, or radio, film, and television are critical because many stations only accept interns enrolled in college.  These women have worked from the bottom up to get where they are today.  They’ve known from an early age where their career paths were headed, and it has helped them become the successful women they are today.

I wasn’t aware of all the hard work these women put into their careers.  If there was a lack of Latina DJ role models when they got their start, they have certainly become them today.  And that makes them true pioneers in this growing industry.

Vanessa Garcia has written for Modern Latina since 2008, in addition to Live en Vivo, and 831 Magazine.  Many of her articles reflect her interests in art, music, culture, travel, and the environment.  Vanessa received her Bachelor’s degree from UCLA in Anthropology, and is currently finishing her Master’s as San Jose State University in Mass Communications.