Eloy "Double E" Espinoza, happy for Los Tovares' win...
On Wednesday, October 2, Eloy Espinoza (better known as DJ Double E for listeners of KEDA Radio Jalapeño), woke up with mixed feelings. On the one hand, he was happy for being the keyboardist of Los Tovares, who had just won Best Country/Americana Band at the Current’s SA Music Awards. So he came to our offices and, as he was taking a huge bundle of magazines from the display box, I recognized him and asked him in passing, “How’s the station?”
“Oh, I’m no longer there,” he said. “They let me go about two weeks ago.”
...and sad for leaving KEDA on bad terms. (iPhone photos by E.L.)
That explains it. If you’ve been listening to Radio Jalapeño lately, you will have noticed Double E’s morning slot (6 a.m.-10 a.m.) is now being hosted by DJ Express (Danny Casanova, a veteran of the old KEDA station). So, after 16 years at the old KEDA building and two in the new one, Espinoza finds himself without a job, not counting his new online radio station (radiolasalvaje.com, launching today between 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.). Or is he?
“We had a little difference with [station owner Jerry Benavides], but I can’t get into details,” Espinoza said. “At any rate, I don’t know if I’m suspended, fired or what. He put me on suspension, had me turn in my keys and told me he’d call me if he wanted me to come back. But now that Danny [Casanova] is there, I guess I’m gone for good.”
The station sees it differently.
“[Espinoza] messed up the company van in an accident and hasn’t been to work ever since,” Jerry Benavides Jr. told the Current on the phone. “We’ve been trying to get in touch him but he hasn’t returned our calls.”
Asked again, Espinoza finally opened up. According to him, on September 15 he conducted a radio remote from Traders Village Flea Market. When he was returning the company van to the station, a tire blew up. He pulled over and there was no spare tire, so he unsuccessfully tried to fix the tire by himself. He left the van overnight at a Best Buy parking lot on Military. When he notified Benavides Sr. in the morning, the station’s owner (who had been out of town the day before), became “irate.”
“I got the van fixed and took it back to the station, but [Benavides] started telling me there were other things wrong with it. But the only thing wrong with it was the flat tire. They’re trying to get me for the other stuff. I’m not going to be a scapegoat for other stuff that is already wrong with it. And if they say they’ve tried to contact me, they’re lying. I have not received a call from the station, from Nelda [Sáenz, DJ and program director], not an email. Nothing. They’re just trying to cover their own asses.”
When contacted by the Current, Benavides sounded more hurt than “irate.”
“Have I called him?” Benavides asked. “He damaged my truck! Who owes who a call? He left my truck abandoned overnight and I want to know why. [Espinoza] has been one of my right-hand guys and I feel disappointed.”
Benavides said that it wasn’t one tire, but that Espinoza ran over a curb and bent the left side of the front and back rims and both tires came out. “He was a good boy, but I really don’t know what’s wrong with him. That’s why I wanted to talk to him, so he could explain.”
Any chance Espinoza could return to KEDA?
“I already hired someone,” Benavides said. “I can put [Espinoza] at 12 or 3 in the morning if he wants to come in, but I can’t wait for him. I have a business to run.”
Whatever happened on that day, Espinoza is not looking back—between 5 and 6 p.m. today, he and a "partner who wants to remain anonymous" will be launching Radio La Salvaje (The Wild One Radio at radiolasalvaje.com or doubleeradio.com), an online radio station “the way it should be.”
“KXTN is playing the oldies, Tejano from the ’90s and 2000s, and KEDA has gone conjunto and bringing more norteño,” Espinoza said. “I want it right in the middle, the way the original KEDA was, with 50/50 Tejano and conjunto, new and old, with doors open for everybody.”
With La Salvaje have room for, say, the legendary Güero Polkas (Ricky Dávila, who retired in 2012 after 48 years at the original Radio Jalapeño)?
“Oh, yes,” an enthusiastic Espinoza said. “He hasn’t said yes yet, but he’s going to be one of my DJs.”
However, Güero Polkas is clueless about this.
“Some stations want me to work for them
for free!” said Dávila. “Another one wanted me to ‘audition’ for a weekend spot and, if the ratings go well, he can offer me more. But I don’t audition for nobody. I have a well-established career. If you want me to work, show me the money. Otherwise, I’ll stay retired. And no, I didn't speak with [Double E]. This is the first I hear about all this.”