Aug 9, 2022 - World

Pioneering DJ still spinning Chicano oldies at 97

Art Laboe talks in a studio in Palm Springs
Art Laboe. Photo: Russell Contreras/Axios

Art Laboe, one of the first DJs to play R&B and rock 'n' roll in California and cherished among Mexican Americans for his ongoing inmate shoutouts, turned 97 on Sunday.

The big picture: Laboe has been on the air for nearly eight decades and today hosts a show that allows family members to send dedications to incarcerated loved ones.

  • His longevity has allowed him to build a following among at least three generations of Latinos in Southern California and the Southwest.

Born Arthur Egnoian in Salt Lake City to an Armenian-American family, scholars credit him for helping integrate dance halls among Latinos, Black Americans, Asian Americans and whites who were drawn to his multicultural musical lineup.

The intrigue: Laboe hosts the syndicated "The Art Laboe Connection Show" from 6 p.m. to midnight every Sunday on 93.5 KDAY.

  • The show is also streamed online and via the TuneIn App.

What they're saying: "I don't judge. I like people," Laboe said in an interview in 2019.

  • At the time, he shared a story about a woman who came by the studio so her toddler could tell her father, who was serving time for a violent crime, "Daddy, I love you."
  • "It was the first time he had heard his baby's voice," Laboe said. "And this tough, hard-nosed guy burst into tears."
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