It's Been a Great Ride

Why I'm leaving KCLA FM

By Frankie Firme
Published on LatinoLA: December 11, 2006

It's Been a Great Ride

After 7 years, one of the greatest rides of my life, like all good songs and all good rides, comes to an end ... no regrets, no doubts, and nothing but sunshine in the future!

My 7 year tenure as the ‘«£Al Capone of the Microphone & and the Hitman of West Coast Chicano Soul‘«ō on the American Radio Network‘«÷s World Wide Internet radio station ends on December 28th, 2006 as I broadcast my last show before moving on to bigger and better things.

Starting off by attending an audition at the ARN Studios on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood on a dare in early summer of 1999, ‘«£The 2nd Time Around Show‘«ō, a weekly, hour-long, live program spotlighting West Coast Oldies but Goodies and Latin Soul music has grown to a popular cultural affair, developing a World Wide cult audience of over 2 million, thanks to Internet radio, and the fine support, training, and advice given to me by the staff of the ARN.

‘«£You‘«÷re not going to make a lot of money right away in the radio business ... and you might never ... but if you apply yourself, work hard, and really love what you‘«÷re doing ... you‘«÷re going to have a good time and reap some benefits you probably never even thought about,‘«ō is what I remember ARN managers Tony Lewis and Jonathan Hart telling me during the first orientation meeting I attended prior to starting my broadcasting career.

‘«£Don‘«÷t play what you hear on regular everyday radio, Frankie. Try not to copy anybody. Play what you love, and what the people want to hear. Be yourself, and have fun! If you got it ... and not everybody does ... people and good things will come your way. Just do what what you love to do, never quit on yourself, and let‘«÷s see what happens,‘«ō is the advice station manager Lollie Waterman gave me when I was first approved to go ‘«£live‘«ō after 11 weeks of pre-recording shows.

To their credit, I have met and made friends with many of the musical artists, bands, promoters, and producers of the entertainment field that have influenced or touched my life, many who have been guests on my show. With a provided press pass, I have attended many Hollywood entertainment events (for FREE!) when many of these events were sold out or beyond my budget, and met many actors, comedians, and writers of Hollywood legend. I am listed & given credit on five different music CD‘«÷s and two books as a major contributer to keeping Chicano music alive.

Learning terms like ‘«£audio & VU levels,‘«ō ‘«£formats,‘«ō ‘«ōcommercial spots,‘«ō ‘«£air checks,‘«ō ‘«£playlists,‘«ō ‘«£broadcast week numbers,‘«ō ‘«£international time zones,‘«ō ‘«£fading,‘«ō ‘«£PSAs,‘«ō ‘«£voice control,‘«ō and ‘«£working the board,‘«ō while learning the many FCC rules & regulations that apply to an up & coming radio broadcaster & DJ (aka ‘«£disk jockey‘«ō), I also had a good time just making friends with the directors, staff, and many radio colleagues at the ARN in Hollywood, while being exposed to the many different genres of music in today‘«÷s world, as well as the craziness that occurs daily on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood.

Because of the wide exposure and inevitable popularity of my show, I have been invited to host or Emcee many public concerts & events, as ‘«£KCLA FM‘«÷s Frankie Firme,‘«ō in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. In 2005, I was the first non~Tejano music personality ever to be invited to Alice, Texas, to come on stage and present an award at the Tejano Music R.O.O.T.S. Hall of Fame music awards ceremony. I appeared on Univision television, and was amazed to find out that my show on KCLA had such a large national audience.

In 2000, I did my first public appearances as ‘«£KCLA FM‘«÷s Frankie Firme‘«ō, first at the Chicano Art Gallery ‘«£Self~Help Graphics‘«ō in East Los Angeles, then at the Hollywood Park Racetrack & Casino, which featured artists such as The Olympics, Al Wilson, Trish Peeler, Rosie & the Originals, and the Coasters. Also in 2000, author Ruben Molina of Mictlan Publishing released the first printing of his book ‘«£The Old Barrio Guide to Lowrider Music‘«ō, promoting it first on my show, listing me in the credits, offering my listeners a free CD for mentioning KCLA, and selling over 300 copies the first year!

In 2001, I was invited to become a contributing writer for, a major West Coast Latino Web magazine, writing about my music and my adventures as the ‘«£Traveling DJ from KCLA‘«ō at all the local concerts, usually upon invitation, scoring on more than just free tickets every time!

In 2002, I was invited to co~host the Annual Oxnard Salsa Festival, an event that draws over 45,000 people a year. I have been invited back every year since. I also met and joined up with RAMPART Records President/Music promoter Steven Chavez, and began a successful run of live music shows & dances in California, featuring the East L.A. Revue All Star Band, who recorded three CD‘«÷s as a group, all premiered on my show.

In 2003, Shin Miyata of Tokyo, Japan, owner of Barrio Gold Records & Lowrider Magazine of Japan, made KCLA FM and my show one of his stops in the United States that year, writing a full page article about me and Internet radio station KCLA FM in the September 2003 issue.

In 2004, I was invited to join Texas‘«÷s legendary DJ , the ‘«£Godfather of Tejano & Chicano Soul‘«ō Crazy Chuy Hernandez, on his Chicano Express Internet Radio network, taping shows at the ARN studios, then mailing them to Texas for re-broadcast. Frankie Firme was now on two Internet radio stations. Also in 2004, I appeared twice on cable TV‘«÷s ‘«£Thee Mr. Duran Show‘«ō.

In 2005, RAMPART Records of Los Angeles invited me to join them as a music consultant to help sort through the thousands of early West Coast Rock & Roll recordings from their locked vaults, 10 years after the death of founder Eddie Davis. Just being able to meet & work with East L.A. music heavies Hector Gonzalez & Steven Chavez was a rush enough, but then, they surprised me by fully funding, directing, and producing my first music compilation CD ‘«£Frankie Firme presents 16 Golden Treasures from the vaults of RAMPART Records‘«ō, also producing 3 theme songs, featuring some of L.A.‘«÷s top musical artists. For a short while, I was invited to produce & record 22 shows for Internet radio‘«÷s Q~VO Radio Station, many which are archived and still aired from time to time.

In 2006, RAMPART Records collaborated with President Steven Chavez‘«÷s 5 Key Productions/East L.A. Revue, and established the East L.A. Revue World Wide 24 Hour Radio Network. Linking up with Chicano Express Radio of Texas, Frankie Firme can now be heard 7 days a week, and 24 hours a day‘«™and now, I‘«÷m finally getting paid!

All this‘«™just because a 45 year old Psychiatric Technician, former U.S. Marine, former U.S. Army soldier, former night club bouncer, and mobile DJ from East L.A. & the San Gabriel Valley decided to take up somebody‘«÷s dare and attend the ARN‘«÷s free radio show auditions one Sunday afternoon in Hollywood ... because he was a little mad that radio stations in L.A. stopped playing ‘«£his kind‘«ō of music.

Of course, it hasn‘«÷t been easy, and it hasn‘«÷t always been fun‘«™but what is, if it‘«÷s worth anything at all?

If given the chance, I would do it all over again. Thanks, ARN ! I will never forget you, and all you have done for me!

With respect & friendship,

‘«£the Al Capone of the microphone, & the Hitman of West Coast Chicano Soul‘«ō

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