RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
Next, we'll meet a raucous talk-show host whose audience includes lots of illegal immigrants. His listeners know him by the name Piolin. He's also a major force behind the recent marches in immigration. NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports from his home base here in Los Angeles.
Mr. EDUARDO SOTELO (Radio Talk-Show Host, KSCA, Los Angeles): (Unintelligible)
(Soundbite of cheering)
MANDELIT DEL BARCO reporting:
This week when immigrants converged on downtown Los Angeles for the latest march, Piolin, Eduardo Sotelo was in front of the crowd urging them to wave the U.S. flag with pride.
Mr. SOTELO: (Unintelligible) we are (unintelligible) the U.S.A. flag by raising the flag all the way to the top.
(Soundbite of cheering)
DEL BARCO: Many of those who took to the streets last Monday followed his lead, just as more than half a million demonstrators in LA did last month. Piolin helped mobilize the masses with his top-rated nationally syndicated radio show. One of those paying attention was Estredo(ph) Castro(ph), a construction worker from Guanajuato, Mexico.
Mr. ESTREDO CASTRO (Construction Worker, Guanajuato, Mexico): (Through translator) We came because he was telling us to on the radio. He said to get together so we told the family, hey, Piolin said you have to go, you have to go. So we went there to be with Piolin.
(Soundbite of music)
DEL BARCO: For seven hours each weekday morning, Piolin hits the air with a combination of jokes, interviews, and listener calls. He says his large eyes and big head earned him the nickname Piolin: Tweety Bird. In the world of Spanish language radio, he was a huge celebrity long before the marches. Now he's also become a voice and a guide for millions of immigrant listeners across the country. Piolin says he knows what it's like to be in America illegally. He came here himself without papers, hoping for a better life.
Mr. SOTELO: I came through the mountains of Tijuana, then I was running for like five hours and jumping all over the fences. And I remember there was a time that I had to go into the trunk of a car, for--man, it was like eternity, but there was moment that I couldn't breathe. At that moment, I remember really good, that I asked God to give me opportunity to be working on a microphone; to be able to help the people who needs help; and do my best to let them know that we came here to succeed.
DEL BARCO: Sotelo got here in 1986. He now has a green card and is on his way to becoming a U.S. citizen. Even though many are calling him a leader of a new immigrant rights movement, he shies away from taking all the credit.
Mr. SOTELO: I'm not a politico. I'm not. I'm just representing Eduardo Sotelo. I'm just, you know, the one of the million people that they working here to have better life in the United States. I'm one of them.
DEL BARCO: Sotelo's impact is being noticed beyond the borders of the U.S. On this day he's being visited by journalist Carlos Loret de Mola who works for the biggest Mexican T.V. network, Televisa.
Mr. CARLOS LORET DE MOLA (Journalist; Anchor, Primero Noticias, Televisa Network, Mexico): Whenever reporters from Mexico come here and find out--when all this started, where all this movement? Or, how come there's no official leaders. So this is not like, it's not Cesar Chavez, it's different, you know. There is not like one figure. Everyone (unintelligible) to fill in. Everything started here. From now on, what Piolin says about migration is something that is to be heard...
(Soundbite of radio broadcast in foreign language)
DEL BARCO: Sotelo recently recorded this public service announcement advising demonstrators to not respond if they're provoked and to always obey authorities. He's also urged students not to walk out of school to protest. His radio show has become a forum on what comes next. One of his latest ideas: moving the protests out of the streets and into the stadiums.
Mr. SOTELO: It's the biggest facility right now when I just throw the idea of getting together in stadiums, to do it peacefully. Like that, we're not trying to interrupt so much in streets, and everybody's gonna be organized, you know. I think that's another way to respect the laws of the United States, because we're not gonna be using the violence, because I'm against that.
DEL BARCO: Sotelo says while immigrants protest, they should also demonstrate they love America. Once again he used his show to set the example.
Mr. SOTELO: (Foreign language spoken)
(Soundbite of “God Bless America”)
DEL BARCO: Mandalit Del Barco, NPR News, Los Angeles.
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