Why did ‘El Piolin,’ one of the top radio DJs in America, get fired for no reason this week?

“El Piolin” may not have been a household name in much of white America, but if you were tuned in to the world of Spanish-language speaking radio, or even Spanish-language social politics, he was something of a modern-day legend.

El Piolin – real name Eddie Sotelo – was syndicated to 20 major hispanic markets around the country, and was pivotal in the biggest protests in American history. During the immigration marches of 2006, Sotelo was instrumental in organizing peaceful protests, bringing both sides of the immigration dispute on his radio show, and maintaining an aura of calm and civility in the midst of an historic, game-changing political protest.

Writer Gustavo Arellano of The OC Weekly, himself a longtime listener and major fan, had much to say about the sudden firing:

While Piolín was more than happy to delve into the double entendres, childish voices, and general wackiness that defines Spanish-language radio hosts, he also showed that audiences could embrace something more substantial, more thoughtful. For chrissakes, El Piolíon, more than any one person, is responsible for the nationwide immigrant marches of 2006, the largest protests in American history; it was he who first proposed the idea among radio personalities, and it was he who brokered an unheard-of on-air meeting of rivals before the marches, a show of solidarity that translated into the masses taking to the streets. That secures his place in American history, as does his story: a teen who entered this country illegally, ended up in SanTana, and went on to change the course of history.

Sotelo’s parent company Univision refuses to release any statement as to a reason why El Piolin’s show – and presumably contract – was terminated. When reached for a quote, a Univision spokesperson would only say:

I can confirm that the show has been canceled. We are not commenting beyond confirming.

Image credit: AP Photo / Damian Dovarganes