Art Laboe still spinning records

Really nice Column One by Esmeralda Bermudez on Art Laboe, the disc jockey who has been taking requests and sending out dedications to L.A. low-riders for 50-plus years. He's now an icon across the Southwest and beyond. In the video from Fox 11's "Midday Sunday," host Tony Valdez admits to getting chills on his spine sitting next to Laboe: "What a career. What a life."

From the Bermudez piece in today's LAT:

Listeners with nicknames such as Mr. Porky, Lil' Crazy, Big Papi, Bullet, Bugsy and Payasa call in from Oxnard, Riverside and Boyle Heights; from Phoenix, Albuquerque and Nevada. They are lonely women, rueful men, rapt lovers, entire families with squeaky-voiced children who ask Laboe to wish their grandmothers good night.

The 84-year-old disc jockey helps them celebrate anniversaries, mourn their dead and profess their love. He is the intermediary who reconciles arguments, encourages couples to be affectionate, sends out birthday wishes and thank yous.

His program, which is especially popular among listeners 25 to 54 years old, has consistently ranked near the top of its evening time slot, according to the ratings firm Arbitron. The Art Laboe Connection plays in more than a dozen cities in four states and draws about a million listeners a week.

Also this: "State Sen. Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles) remembers cruising through Boyle Heights with Antonio Villar (later Villaraigosa) in the future mayor's canary yellow 1964 Chevy, bumping Laboe's music: It was the early 1970s, and Laboe was everyone's favorite uncle in the neighborhood, he said."

Laboe's website says he was the first DJ to play rock and roll on the West Coast airwaves, "one of the first DJs to play both black and white artists and the first DJ to have an 'Elvis Hour,' the entire hour devoted to Elvis Presley." Laboe's "Oldies But Goodies" album series now has 15 volumes. Laboe airs here 7 p.m. to midnight on HOT 92.3 FM.

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