Radio has always been the best vehicle for hitmaking for any artist but for the past 40 years the "hit" hasn't necessarily come out of a commercial station.
The true defender of the musical cause for close to five decades has been noncommercial radio (college stations, National Public Radio, broker stations).
During the '60s and '70s, commercial radio played mostly the promotional singles, whereas DJs at non-commercial radio played their favorite track off the album.
Early pioneers in New York City --radio personalities Symphony Sid, Dick Ricardo Sugar, Joe Gaines, Felipe Luciano and Roger Dawson-- would actually dictate what the hits were for the labels, audiences trusted their choices.
During the early '80s all that began to change as radio leaned more towards the new salsa sensual sound led by youthful pretty boy vocalists, with not so great voices who appealed to young female consumers.
Meanwhile, noncommercial radio played some of these acts but for the most part remained true to the Fania era and any new artist with swing music.
Throughout the years we've had some great DJs and shows throughout the world, but today we have shows all over the U.S. with salsa shows as well as Latin Jazz programs springing up in places like North Carolina, Arizona, Atlanta/Georgia, Las Vegas/Nevada, Alaska, Oregon, Detroit/Michigan, Hawaii, Oklahoma and others.
I'd like to acknowledge some of the shows I've come into contact with in my past 22 years in this industry that are currently active. Look at it as your radio guide of shows throughout the country.
José "Cheo" Diaz at WKCR 89.9 FM has been headlining the show Mambo Machine for over 20 years and is currently on the air on Fridays from 11 p.m.-2 a.m. and has been instrumental in the exposure of good music year in and year out.
Nelson "Radames" Rodríguez has his show at WNCR 90.3 FM on Saturday afternoons (11 a.m.-3 p.m.) and is titled Essence and Rhythm, specializing in Latin jazz.
Felipito Palacios at WUSB 90.1 FM has his Onda Nueva show every Saturday from 3-7 p.m. Felipito is also a newspaper journalist covering all the city's major events.
Vicki Sola is still cooking at WFDU 89.1 FM on Saturdays from 12 noon-3 p.m. and Que Viva La Musica remains one of the hottest shows for interviews.
WCNR is privileged with the timbalero for the Eddie Palmieri Orchestra, José Clausell, on Thursdays from 2-6 p.m. with his show Rincon Caliente.
The #1 merengue authority at New York college stations is Alejandro Crug at WCNR who is on the air every Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Merengueando is the merengue bible in upper Manhattan.
Nancy Rodríguez has Ritmo Con Aché from 2-4 p.m. at NPR's WBAI 99.5 FM every Sunday. The show also has many live performances in the studio...