The L.A. airwaves are littered with Spanish-language radio stations such as Que Buena, Super Estrella, La Equis and others. These stations, as anyone with a radio can attest to, play non-stop cumbias, norteñas, tejanas, reggaeton and a bit of rock en español. “Where’s the indie?” I imagine you ask yourself. It’s nowhere to be found. Fortunately, there is one exception to that rule for españindie fanatics: Sala De Espera Radio.
Sala De Espera is a radio program created, produced and hosted by Jose Galván. He and associate producer Jerry Lopez (whom he met while working for Z-Trip) play a two hour-long show filled with their favorite Spanish indie and alternative artists every week on Indie 103 and Moheak.com.
The show made its debut three years ago on Indie 103, one month after it lost its FM signal and became an internet radio station. “I had been pitching the show to [Indie] ever since they were on the air,” recalls Galván. The station had a Spanish alternative show then, The Red Zone, and he’d cover for host Cha Cha (Chelina Vargas) from time to time. Indie went off the air, Vargas left the station and Galván and Sala De Espera were chosen to fill the void.
Galván, a chilango who moved to L.A. around the time he was nine, was studying Spanish and Film at USC when he created the first version of the program. Pan Caliente, as the show was called, debuted on KXSC in 2001 and featured nothing but rock en español and Spanish alternative.
“It was kind of like Sala De Espera,” he explained, “but, at that time, there was no Spotify, Napster had just been shut down, there was no twitter, there was no facebook, no myspace music, so it was extremely hard to find bands. There was only small stuff and what the labels were giving us and that was always shit.”
The program is filled with songs from new artists such as Upground, Bam Bam, Davila 666 and Chico Mann alongside more popular and established artists such as Kinky, Café Tacvba, Zoé and Los Fabulosos Cadillacs. On occasion, Galván and Lopez chat on the air with live studio guests, some of whom also perform live in-studio. A few of these artists include Adanowsky, Los Abandoned, Enjambre, Natalia LaFourcade and El Conjunto Nueva Ola (pictured above sans pantalones).
He and Lopez have also begun promoting their own shows recently. They hosted Gustavo Galindo at the R Bar in celebration of his Grammy nomination and invited Francisca Valenzuela and Fernanda Ulibarri to the same venue for a pre-SXSW, acoustic set. Last but not least, they’ll be in Austin this weekend with their own showcase at Beale Street Lounge.
“We’re definitely trying to expand [Sala De Espera] as a brand…we realized that, without much effort, we can pack a small space with 150, 200 people. That’s what we want. We don’t want to throw shows with 8,000 people. We want something intimate.”
Galván hopes Sala De Espera becomes a vehicle for these artists to expand into the mainstream and out of indie obscurity in the U.S. Many of the artists who appear on his show are incredibly popular in their home countries but relatively obscure here despite their dedicated fanbases.
“I’m not doing it for my ego,” he added. “I’m doing it because I like the music and I‘m doing it because Jerry and I want to see these bands succeed. I believe in the music.”