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Spanish D.J. Organizes Immigration-Reform Protests


The debate on immigration has not been limited to the marble-pillared confines of Capitol Hill. Hundreds of thousands of people, many of them students, have taken to the streets in recent days to protest the proposed legislation. There were marches today in Houston and Dallas, in Las Vegas and around Los Angeles. The protests are being promoted in large part by Spanish-language media, including radio.


BLOCK: With Mexican pride, that's the sound of Rafael Pulido's show in Chicago. He's a popular DJ who goes by the name El Pistolero. He insists he is not a shock jock, but off color jokes and innuendo are standard fare on his program. Lately he's taken a much more political tone on his show, and he's not the only one. Dozens of Spanish-language radio hosts have begun using their shows to rally support for immigrant rights. And Pulido says that's something new.

RAFAEL PULIDO: This is the first time that we've all come together for this same cause. And at one point or the other, we have been on the air simulcastly (ph), you know, broadcasting to the L.A., to the Bay Area, to Houston, to Dallas, to Denver and Atlanta and various other cities. But this has been the only event that has brought us together.

BLOCK: Do you think that'll keep going on?

PULIDO: And if necessary, we need to, the African-Americans did it, they went all the way to Washington with one million people. Why can't we do it and have two million Hispanics go to the White House. If it's necessary, I've spoken to my colleagues in L.A., I've spoken to the people in the Bay Area, I've spoken to the people in Houston and they're all for it. They're willing to use their airtime at all cost.

BLOCK: Is there a march in the works, like the one you describing, a march on Washington?

PULIDO: We've talked about it. I believe it's all about strategy and we all need to see which way the Senate is moving, the government is moving, how serious are they taking this. I will say it this way, this giant that has been awoken, you know, into this huge massive amount of people that, in a peaceful way are asking, hey, I'm here because I want to contribute to this country too. And yes we have talked about it and we need to know, first, how serious the Congress and the government and President Bush is taking all this, what's going on across the country.

BLOCK: You know, I'm guessing that when you started out in radio, or became a shock jock, that this role that you have now of being a political activist, in some sense, was not what you would have thought you'd be doing.

PULIDO: But you know, you hear the call and it is the moral responsibility when you're behind a microphone, not just to entertain people, but to inform people of what's going on around their lives.

BLOCK: Mr. Pulido, it's good to talk to you, thanks so much.

PULIDO: It's been a pleasure, thank you for having me on your show.

BLOCK: That's Rafael Pulido, also known as El Pistolero, heard every morning on Chicago Radio station WOJO. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

As special correspondent and guest host of NPR's news programs, Melissa Block brings her signature combination of warmth and incisive reporting. Her work over the decades has earned her journalism's highest honors, and has made her one of NPR's most familiar and beloved voices.

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