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Juan Carlos forges an emotional bond with listeners who love the big band sounds he features on his Sing Before Breakfast Show on KERV. Photo by Phil Houseal

Juan Carlos hosts the Sing Before Breakfast Show, featuring tunes from the 20s, 30s, and 40s every weekday morning from 6 to 9 a.m. on KERV Stereo AM 1230.

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Juan Carlos: Sing Before Breakfast

by Phil Houseal
Mar 19, 2008

"Welcome to the Sing Before Breakfast Show... the music and the memories... here on the station that plays all the great oldies from yesteryear... this is Juan Carlos... it's a pleasure to have you aboard..."

When you hear that rich deep voice flowing from your AM radio, you know you have found your home for the great music of the 20s, 30s, and 40s. Unlike radio voices that don't match the man behind the microphone, when you hear Juan Carlos' distinctive bass voice, it perfectly mirrors the man. A generous, sensitive, gentle man who loves the music he plays and values the emotional connection with his listeners.

As I stopped by the radio station to interview him, he was escorting an elderly fan out the door. He was still on the air, but wanted to make sure she made it safely back to her car.

"They come in here all the time to visit," he explained. "They just pop in to say hi, I like your music. It has emotional impact for them."

He told of the day he played the Paul Whiteman tune 'Whispering', and a woman called, crying. "'I was a little 10-year-old girl when I first heard that song,' she told me. 'We were baking biscuits on a cold winter morning, and my parents were dancing and whistling to that song, and now I'm 81 years old.' For her to hear that song brought back a flood of memories. I get those all the time. It means something to them. It transports them back to a time when life was simpler and gentler for them."

Growing up in San Antonio, while he listened to the Beatles and Bob Dylan, Juan Carlos fell in love with big band music when his mother took him to a Harry James concert. But in order to play that music on the radio, he had to overcome both a "stuttering problem and a strong Spanish accent." In fact, he never considered himself as having a good voice.

"I don't like the way I sound... I don't!" he insisted. "I hear myself, and I say gosh, I need to improve my diction, my enunciation, and I have a tendency to slur my speech that goes back to when I had problems with stuttering." Then he let out a booming basso laugh. "But if other people enjoy hearing me, that's the main thing."

Many do, as he is in demand for international voiceover work on radio and TV, including for such corporations as Coca-Cola and Readers Digest.

But with Juan Carlos, it always comes back to the music and the emotional connection that music forges with listeners. Some call up and invite him to dinner... and maybe more.

"One lady called - she was 82 years old - and told me she enjoyed the love songs I put on," he said. She invited him to dinner, adding, "Let me put it this way: when I hear Frank Sinatra, he can drink out of my teacup any day." Again he laughed.

Not to give the impression that it is only the older generation who loves this music. While moonlighting as a school bus driver, Juan Carlos used to slip in tapes of Glenn Miller, Harry James, and Benny Goodman. To his surprise, the kids stopped asking for Britney Spears and 'N Sync and requested more of "that great jazz swing stuff."

"That's all they wanted to hear," he said. "They had never been exposed to it. Once they were, they jumped on the bandwagon."

What matters most to Juan Carlos is relating to the people who love that music.

"Basketball coach John Woodin said that he wanted to be remembered for one thing: that he was a person who was considerate of people. That made a lot of sense - when you can relate to people that way. I want people to be happy listening to these tunes. My listeners, I always consider them family and friends."

Peggy Lee finished crooning "Why Don't You Do Right." Juan Carlos turned back to his microphone.

"That will wrap it up for us this morning... have yourself a great Thursday... we'll do it tomorrow morning here on the Sing Before Breakfast Show... I'm Juan Carlos... take care and I wish you the very, very best."