In the early 1970s, two LMU students dreamed of having an outlet for music in Spanish in the Los Angeles radio market. They approached KXLU 88.9, LMU’s fiercely independent radio station, with their idea for a one-hour show named Alma del Barrio, or soul of the neighborhood. But they got more than they asked for. The radio station needed to fill the timeslot for the entire weekend, Alma del Barrio has been filling that spot ever since.
“Spanish rock was not played on the air in Los Angeles during the ’60s and ’70s,” said Rosalva Lara ’99, a current deejay for Alma del Barrio. “Now, in addition to Spanish rock, we play salsa and Latin jazz, as well as promoting new artists and their music.”
Alma del Barrio airs from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday and is hosted by 12 to 16 deejays. The show features music from established artists around the world to local musicians, and also in-studio live performances. In addition, the deejays conduct on-air interviews. Most notable in-studio guests have included Celia Cruz, Eddie Palmieri and Lupita Puente.
One of the most unique aspects of the Alma del Barrio is its promotion of new artists. For example, Esau Aleman, a local artist who plays in Venice Beach, recently submitted his cd to the show. The show gave him a shot and played some of his songs, in addition to giving information as to where to buy his album.
“I feel so good trying to find new artists and helping them to grow,” Lara said. “That is exactly what Alma is all about.”
Future plans for Alma del Barrio include recruiting an engineer, playing more live music and getting their musical library digitized. Also, they are always recruiting students to work at the station.
“Alma del Barrio rounds out KXLU. The station is supposed to be a reflection of the community, and without the Latin music scene there would be a huge gap,” Lara said.