Spanish D.J. Organizes Immigration-Reform Protests

Rafael Pulido, aka "El Pistolero," is host of a morning talk show for WOJO's La Que Buena. His show is the main vehicle for informing the Hispanic community about protests against the immigration bill that is currently under consideration in the Senate.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

The debate on immigration has not been limited to the marble-pillared confines of Capitol Hill. Hundreds of thousands of people, many of them students, have taken to the streets in recent days to protest the proposed legislation. There were marches today in Houston and Dallas, in Las Vegas and around Los Angeles. The protests are being promoted in large part by Spanish-language media, including radio.

(Soundbite of Spanish-language radio show)

BLOCK: With Mexican pride, that's the sound of Rafael Pulido's show in Chicago. He's a popular DJ who goes by the name El Pistolero. He insists he is not a shock jock, but off color jokes and innuendo are standard fare on his program. Lately he's taken a much more political tone on his show, and he's not the only one. Dozens of Spanish-language radio hosts have begun using their shows to rally support for immigrant rights. And Pulido says that's something new.

Mr. RAFAEL PULIDO (Radio Host, WOJO, Chicago): This is the first time that we've all come together for this same cause. And at one point or the other, we have been on the air simulcastly (ph), you know, broadcasting to the L.A., to the Bay Area, to Houston, to Dallas, to Denver and Atlanta and various other cities. But this has been the only event that has brought us together.

BLOCK: Do you think that'll keep going on?

Mr. PULIDO: I believe so. I believe if there's not a clear and fair legalization for the 14 million illegal immigrants, I think that we will continue to push and to support groups or to do it ourselves, to take initiative to send the message to the people as of the importance of coming together.

And if necessary, we need to, the African-Americans did it, they went all the way to Washington with one million people. Why can't we do it and have two million Hispanics go to the White House. If it's necessary, I've spoken to my colleagues in L.A., I've spoken to the people in the Bay Area, I've spoken to the people in Houston and they're all for it. They're willing to use their airtime at all cost.

BLOCK: Is there a march in the works, like the one you describing, a march on Washington?

Mr. PULIDO: We've talked about it. I believe it's all about strategy and we all need to see which way the Senate is moving, the government is moving, how serious are they taking this. I will say it this way, this giant that has been awoken, you know, into this huge massive amount of people that, in a peaceful way are asking, hey, I'm here because I want to contribute to this country too. And yes we have talked about it and we need to know, first, how serious the Congress and the government and President Bush is taking all this, what's going on across the country.

BLOCK: You know, I'm guessing that when you started out in radio, or became a shock jock, that this role that you have now of being a political activist, in some sense, was not what you would have thought you'd be doing.

Mr. PULIDO: I never even thought I was going to be doing radio. And to be honest, although I grew up in a very active, pro-immigrant valley, I come from Fresno, California, the Central Valley, and to be honest, I lost my father in Mexico and that's how I ended up in Central California, because my father was in politics in Mexico and he lost his life because of it. And I've always promised myself that I would never get into politics.

But you know, you hear the call and it is the moral responsibility when you're behind a microphone, not just to entertain people, but to inform people of what's going on around their lives.

BLOCK: Mr. Pulido, it's good to talk to you, thanks so much.

Mr. PULIDO: It's been a pleasure, thank you for having me on your show.

BLOCK: That's Rafael Pulido, also known as El Pistolero, heard every morning on Chicago Radio station WOJO.

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