Dear Gato 103.1

Dear Gato 103.1,

Is it true? Are you really gonna play cumbias? Because lots of stations have said they were and ended up in a funky morass of Durangense and Marco Antonio Solis.

There are a few tears for the former station that came before you, perhaps it’s because those folks haven’t really learned to appreciate the beauty and the glory of what’s called (in English) Mexican Regional Music but what we call Norteñas, Rancheras, Banda, Corridos, Cumbias and yes, even Duranguense.

I promise to love you Gatito if you play my two favorite songs on Los Angeles radio at the moment:

Los Picadientes de Caborca – La Cumbia del Río

Banda MS – EL Mechon

Con Mucho Cariño,

Links to the real videos (embedding disabled, how dare they?). La Cumbia del Río is one you should especially check out as it shows real Los Angeles residents dancing about their places of employment in a humorous and entertaining way!

Los Pikadientes De Caborca – La Cumbia Del Río

Banda MS – El Mechon

72 thoughts on “Dear Gato 103.1

  1. ¡El gato volador!

    ya y
    ya no te traen nada para cantar
    solamente le trae la historia
    del gato volador (4) y dice asi
    cubana-hubana-ana. . .fue horrible, cubana-hubana-ana. . .y dice asi
    hago como iguana
    hago como mosquirto
    hago como pollito
    hago como ballena
    hago como vaca mu
    pero ustedes lo que quieren es
    Hubo una fiesta en mi barrio
    llego don gato,
    llego el gato tom,
    llego el gato felix,
    llego silvestre,
    tambien vino garfield, pero hacia falta un gato
    saben quien es?
    el gato volador
    el gato volador
    porqueria de cancion
    el gato volador
    el gato volador
    dice asi

    cubana-hubana-ana, cubana-hubana-ana. . .fue horrible

    Esta es la histotia de una gato
    del que no se sabe nada
    nadie suponia lo que le pasaba
    llamaron al gato con botas pero las pelotas parecian PPJ
    no sabia lo que pasaba
    ni lo que sucedia
    cuando ese gato a mi casa se metia
    no caminaba
    ni se arrastraba
    el volaba por que es
    el gato volador
    el gato volador
    el gato volador
    el gato volador
    sabes como haces que yo me ria
    largate ya de aqui
    largate de aqui hombre

  2. Is El Gato really going to play cumbias? I listened to El Gato en Chuco Town and they’re playing musica grupera. They’re just playing what La Raza and La Nueva are playing. Any word if they’re going to be DJ-less, like the other Entravision property in L.A. (Jose 97.5, the last station that played cumbias with some regularity). The videos you put aren’t really cumbias, they fit in the Regional Mexicano/Grupero format.

    If it really is going to be a cumbia station, it’s going to have a lot of salsa and merengue to survive AND some good DJs. They probably won’t survive in L.A. I say they have a format change within four years.

    Since K-Day came back, we should bring back a few stations… The Beat,

    I won’t miss Indie 103.1. It was the white noise I passed on the way to Recuerdos. Their signal never, ever reached South Gate with any strength.

    El Gato from El Paso plays duranguense. Jeje. Be careful what you wish for. 😛

  3. PPS
    El Gato’s format in El Paso is heavy on the newer banda music/duranguense/ grupero with some cumbia sprinkled. I imagine they’re going to have one night of cumbias and a few hours on weekends to cumbias… Other than that, they’re just like La Nueva, but without Piolín.

  4. last comment: I’ve been listening to the station for 50 minutes. only one clear cumbia (El sirenito), the rest have been a mish mash of grupero/nuevo banda songs/duranguense. duranguense is like every fifth song.

    if this is their format in L.A., i’m not too excited.

    they played “La cumbia del rio”.

  5. I know only one of those songs is a cumbia (the tuba bassline) but I just wanted an excuse to put them up there. My other reason for including them is because I know there are lots of folks that don’t really pay attention or are dismissive of what’s being played on the “spanish stations” so I wanted to give them an example of two songs I happen to think are very good.

    Cumbia stations haven’t done well in Los Angeles in the past, not even when cumbia was trendy (around 2000, 2001-remember all those Andean style cumbias from DF?) and I don’t think an all cumbia station can do well now. There’s a noontime show that plays cumbias now but of course, it’s just an hour long (at that). It’s funny, I heard this song requested today:
    and the DJ was like “what? you want us to all start crying? ah, you’ve been thinking about your mother, haven’t you?”

    I don’t know the term musica grupera, what does it refer to? I love it that I can always turn to you for answers! 🙂

  6. Chimatli,
    I’m listening to the Chuco Town station today. It’s completely a copy of La Raza. Nothing explicitly different. I do hope they do tweak the format for L.A. L.A.’s market is much larger than Chuco/Juarez.

    Mexican cumbia doesn’t do well in any market. It has to be mixed with Colombian cumbias, salsa, merengue, maybe some mambo for it to survive. Like you said, cumbias can’t be played for long intervals of time, not only because there isn’t a great demand for it, but because radio stations don’t play a great variety of it.

    Grupero is hard to define because it, naturally, overlaps with regional mexicano (or norteño). The best way I can describe it is like this: Norteño=Ramón Ayala, Grupero=Bronco. Grupero is sometimes a catch-all term for groups that don’t fit in other groups. Bukis & Temerarios fit into the label. The Latin Grammys clumped grupero in with regional mexicano this year. Grupero has more electric instruments… I can’t come up with a clearer explanation.

  7. Urbanista, you find the best videos! I’ve never seen cholos dance like that but then again Celso Piña does kick ass!

    Rolo, I love that Sonidito cumbia, thanks for the link. I like how all the youtube comments are like “is this morse code or something?” I wish they’d (spanish language stations) have more songs like this in rotation and not just on the Saturday night mixes.

    Soldedad, thanks for the grupero description, Bronco and Los Bukis is what I was thinking…never did like those bands very much. Well, maybe El Gato will try a few more cumbias in the mix to appeal to the large Central American populations here in Los Angeles. I wouldn’t mind if they threw in some really regional Mexican styles like Chilenas and Marimba. 🙂 I can dream…

  8. personally, not that I listen to the radio very much, except for traffic updates if I have to actually commute..but I wouldn’t mind an LATV type format …where they play bands en Español that get little radio airplay in EEUU like say:

    That would be hizott!

    or some electro-grupero:

    That guy turned it out at CityWalk the summer.

  9. guys, i’m learning so much on this thread!

    if they really want to be cool, they should just ignore genres and play whatever’s good.

  10. Chanfles, how come no one has posted this one yet?

    M_V, esa es mi rola! Too bad Sacramento is no longer in the group. I saw Los Razos once in Rancho El Farallon, I think. Sacramento is a real badass. Check out this interview. ¡Ñaca!

    I think some of the funnest times in radio in L.A. was when La Que Buena played up the rivalry between Los Razos & Los Originales de San Juan, each one releasing songs taking potshots at each other. The whole thing climaxed with an event at Rancho El Farallon where both groups were on stage and alternated songs against each other. I remember that day, El Farallon was SOLD OUT. Here’s one of my favorite songs from that time:

  11. LOL! That interview is ridiculously funny. Sacramento is a character. Reminds me of the guys I meet in the little hole in the wall cantinas in LA. Total nationalist amongst other things.

    The “mano” a “mano” format is friggin hard. I saw Tucanes and los Huracanes in 1994 El Farallon in Lynwood doing the same thing. La Clueva Nueva…wham! La Doble Fondo. Pista Secreta wham! etc. This before Los Tucanes got picked up by EMI Latin and that skyrocketed them through the roof. They’re hella pop now. They were HARD when they did the little local shows in the most random cantinas, not even clubs. The Valley was notorious for clandestine horse races in the 90s, btw.

  12. I’m waiting to see El NOÑO with some mad La Batidora action. I’m into that whole corpulent adult infantilism scene.

    I dig this music! It makes me wanna go swapmeetin’ this weekend!

  13. alienation, since you seem to be interested, i thought i’d include a clip of some duranguense.
    i actually like the above song but i’m not too fond of most duranguense:

    duranguense seems to be characterized by the cheesiest of synthy accordion (it sounds like a synthy harmonica) and the sped up “uumpah beat” (is that tamborazo?). maybe diego knows. also since i’m on the subject, isn’t quebradita sped up cumbia norteña?

    one of these days, i’d like to have a party and hire this tamborazo band from down the street:
    anyone wanna pitch in? 🙂

    Los Angeles, California
    Para Contrataciones:
    Tel:(323)222-3662 or (323)479-7966

  14. Quebradita+ Tecno Banda is categorically a cheapy/gimmicky Banda Sinaloense. The bands that played that genre (R-15, El Mexicano) based their stuff off keyboards, saxes, and some weak sauce percussion. The “umph umph” is hella weak because they ain’t got no tuba or tambora to make that thumping bass.

    Duranguese is based more off Tamborazo Zacatecano (Mipillas), which is pure “umph,” some some saxes. Zacatecano is more compact (5 to 6 crew) so they can easily fit in the back up your pick up truck… to play while you cruise around drinking some cold ones. No lyrics, just some tunes + heavy drumming. Its like a banda-lite, because you can bring them anywhere and be like, let’s party baby! ..get out the car and get your dance on ( (see link) (Feria de La Candelaria (Feb 2) where one side of my family is from in Zac).

    Zacatecas is a neighboring state to Durango and tamborazo is popular there too, so these Duranguense fools “spiced” it up I guess (!!). Kinda how the banda machos of the world in the early 90’s “spiced” up Sinaloense.

    About the clandestine horse races. yeah dudes would just meet up on Sunday mornings at this very low key place in the east SFV comparable to the space around the Santa Fe Dam in the SGV. Open field/dirt…1/4 mile with betting and everything. Straight up out of an Antonio Aguilar movie. Underground cockfights are pretty common too, I don’t do those…that’s whack, but bet on Green if you do.

  15. MV,

    they have horse races, cockfights, and auto (to clarify)drag races out there in the I.E. (Norco, Mira Loma area) also. I had a client that told me that he had his horse win a $100,000 race out there (I believe him) and then he would also bet pink slips on a coin toss. Kind of crazy, but to some people, it is not big deal if you know what I mean.

  16. Thanks Metro for the reply!
    I wondered about quebradita and certain banda music because on the CDs it sometimes says “cumbia” after the song and they all have that cumbia bassline.
    Duranguense has the oompah beat like 1,2, 1,2. I don’t know musical notation at all so sorry I can’t explain myself better. Anyways, I couldn’t figure out where it sprouted from. It sounds like buried under the layers of synth it has the basic polka rhythm.
    OG style Mexican polka:

  17. Yeah I used to roll to Chino (dunno if that’s the I.E.) back in high school to that kinda stuff. Under age drinking in the hot ass Summer sun…chillin’ on horseback. The low-density residential urban nature of LA region lends itself to compas replicating the rancho/pueblo.

    This happened by my ex-gf’s place (hilarious!!!). Some cows, goats and calfs running around the neighborhood. That must have been some Zacatecano’s pets.

    There are definitely some ‘characters’ at these joints & events. It would make for some killer ethnographic research / podcasts.

  18. MV,

    now you need to go farther east to find low density areas. All those dairy farms in Chino are almost gone and have become foreclosures. Not much of the bull manure smell.

    There are areas of Compton where you can have “pajaretes” and the occasional cockfights.

    Didn’t you go to Cal Poly – URP? I was in the same program and during those all nighters we would go cow tipping… I know it was dumb, but sometimes it was boring to be there on a Sunday night.

  19. Compton, especially along Greenleaf, is like this. All the paisas working in the nurseries have animals, mostly horses. The plots on Greenleaf are also large, so having animals is not against the law. A friend of mine lived on Greenleaf and used to have two goats.

    Per the cockfights, they take place in the old factories, some along Greenleaf (I met a gallero on Greenleaf), going east toward the 110, and moving down to the paisa-owned factories in Carson.

  20. I for one am upset that Indy is going off the air. I listened to it only occasionally but took pleasure in knowing there was one radio station with actual musical diversity on the dial. Indy was the only station to host a Reggae show, a Punk Rock show and a Black Metal show, respectively. Nor was Indy only focused on music that appealed to “hipsters” but to a much wider audience than that.

    I will fault them, however, for playing some overrated trash that clearly they were payed to play by producers. There are some notable mentions but all taste is pretense so I’ll avoid. However, in between the occasional garbage were some extreme gems. We will probably never hear old Ska on an LA station again, and so many other things I hear and was amazed to hear over the air. Indy had balls and many DJ’s were allowed to play whatever they felt at the time as long as they mixed in a few songs on the current playlist. You won’t find that in many stations.

    Likely the worst outcome is that we get yet another cookie-cutter Latino pop station in an over-saturated market, and lose what ever diversity there is on the FM dial, making LA’s listening choices even more homogenous. We might get lucky enough to get a Latino station that plays some interesting stuff, but given the owner’s record, likely not.

  21. We clearly don’t see eye to eye. You would trade any sense of diversity on FM for monotony on satellite? Genre picking doesn’t expose you to anything and that is precisely my point. We lost a unique station and it’s a little sad.

  22. Monotony on satellite & online? I have literally hundreds maybe thousands of stations available in ALL LANGUAGES from all over the world (even an all SKA channel). It exposes me to an unbelievably immense spectrum of choices in music and programming. I’ll never have time to listen to all of it.
    Besides, Indie 101 will be living on in an online format for those who miss it. I’d rather hear Jonesy speak his mind without censorship away from public radio anyway. FM/AM radio is evolving into what it needs to be to survive. Whether it’s successful or manages to drive itself into the ground remains to be seen. I do feel sorry for those folks who just want to flip on their car radio and hear something they really like, but things are bound to disappoint you in this world if you get too dependent on outside forces for your personal happiness.

    indie 103.1 was the greatest radio station ever and people who never listened to it could never figure out why people are so sad about it leaving
    if more people had listened, then they would be shedding a tear just like me

  24. You know would I like to see from the diverse 103.1. I’d like to see a picture of the DJs. I’d like to see pictures of the off air staff.

    I’d like to see how many Latinos, African-Americans, Asians or women they had on staff.

    In general this is the problem I’ve always had with alternative media and alternative music and indie things.

    I remember when I moved out here when I listened to Kroq which called itself alternative, I thought that meant there would be everybody there. I didn’t know it meant white.

    I know plenty of black and Latino guys who loved indie music, who were writers, djs, etc…but yet never really saw them given the chance on these indie, freethinking stations…the LA Weekly when it was truly alternative wouldn’t even distribute their paper in South Central. Wanda Coleman asked Jay Levin why he refused to make LA Weekly diverse and I wonder that too.

    BusTard asked over 10 years ago in Angry Thoreauan this question of the alternative world.

    I wonder if maybe 103.1 would have lasted a bit longer if they had tried to reach out to people who liked alternative music, but weren’t just white or guys.

    How much of Santogold did they play? How about Little Jackie (Imani Coppola)?

    Their lack of forward (independent) thinking killed them.


    Read the post and comments above, watch some of the youtube clips and open your mind for the answer. Los Angeles is not strictly a rock n’ roll city.

  26. Johan: Why would YOU want another ROCK station in L.A?? What’s the big pedo???

    Seriously, to lump in all regional music is pretty wiz-ack. Too many variations of it akin to the Compton/Atlanta/Oakland/Chicago/Backpackers etc. hip hop sounds. The norteño sound for the most part is pretty diverse in itself. In CA, it’s a little too Sinaloa-ed out. Then you got that TX-Chihuahua sound which is popular amongst the types that attend charreadas & horse cats…particularly more amongst women for some reason (e.g. Conjunto Azabache, Los Hermanos Herrera). All the “Regional Mexicano” stations still don’t manage to get a lot of these sounds on the radio, so let’s cut the lumping it & therefore dismissing it.

    The article Urbanista posted by that cultural imperialist Josh Kun kinda alludes to the “underground” sound (e.g. LA Sinaloa sound) that’s pretty popular here. Sam Quiñones wrote an excellent article on that subject & Southeast LA back in 1998 in that “Sing Now, Cry Later: The Ballad of Chalino Sanchez.” That was a damn good article and it was ultimately published in Sam’s book in 2002. Crap, that was the first time (and last) I really cared a lick about the “indie/alternative” (whatever) LA Weekly…they had Chalino on the cover!! Now whenever they talk about Southeast LA, its to tell everybody how corrupt their MEXICAN politicians are etc.

    Ten years later, people still don’t get the demographic shift + economic restructuring in Los Angeles..nor will they ever.

    p/s Urbanista’s article had me more interested in the ‘Menonitas’ discussed in the opening article. You always see them selling cookies in the PEMEX stations around Zacatecas & Durango. I’m sure they got their own German Polka ish junk..which could be considered indie, but isn’t played on the “Regional Mexican” stations.

    Msg for the wise:


  27. “I really cared a lick about the “indie/alternative” (whatever) LA Weekly…they had Chalino on the cover!! Now whenever they talk about Southeast LA, its to tell everybody how corrupt their MEXICAN politicians are etc.” Metro Vaquero

    What in the hell is that exactly? I totally noticed this obsession with corrupt Mexican politicians as if they are more corrupt then anyone else. If there was some kind of balance then ok, but you open up the LA Weekly you know any story about poc are going to be on these angles:

    We’re corrupt
    We’re dying owing to gang violence
    We make make good food

    Don’t the people at the LA Weekly know any poc who don’t cook for them or get shot.


  28. Ha Metro! I just did a short post on Chalino while you were writing your comment. Inevitably all roads lead to Chalino when you’re talking about music in Los Angeles.
    Thanks too for the clip of the Villa kids. Nice to see some female representation!

  29. Josh Kun is great. Has anyone else read “What Is An M.C. if He Can’t Rap to Banda? Making Music in Nuevo L.A.?”

    As per coverage by alt. media, I disagree with their characterization of politics as “South of the Border” and the like, but I think it’s good that they’re reporting on the shady dealings that go in these cities. Cuz really, outside of them & a small number of sites, no one is, not the L.A. Times, not the Los Angeles Wave & its papers, not the L.A. Daily News and affiliated papers. What bothered me the most was, seemingly out of nowhere, City Beat wrote about Maywood in the last four months of the past year. It felt too out of place, too weird, too condescending, something that I expect from them, since they named I-forget-who the best thing in East L.A.

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