Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Interview with Zak Cantu


My brother recently informed me that 97.7 FM was giving airtime to local bands and I thought I would look into it. I asked 97.7's Zak Cantu for an interview, and he was kind enough to join us here.

Eduardo Martinez: First off, can you tell us about about yourself?

Zak Cantu: I am the Infamous Zak Cantu. It's a branch away from my real name. I stuck with that name because when I was starting out in radio I liked to beat up on the politicians. Since I'm also an active member of the political community, one State Rep came up to me during a state convention this year and called me that name in front of some of my friends so I decided to keep it. Since then I've been pushing the music because it's way less stressful to keep up with. I was born at an Air Force Base on Oct 7 in Oklahoma and moved to the Valley when i was about 2 or 3. I've been here ever since. I went to EHS and Pan-Am where I'm currently studying marketing. I also haven't had a day off and to myself since I graduated in 06. I also like long walks on the beach and the all you can eat salad bar at Jason's Deli. I keep in ok shape.

EM: Can you tell us what led to the creation of this station?

ZC: 97.7FM has been around for about 5 years. I joined in June and my first show was July 4th, 2011. Joe Martinez is the owner of 97.7 and he's a pretty cool guy who is also doing this part time. He's a teacher during the day. He has a background in broadcasting and he saw a lot of the local music and decided that when he got the approval to have 97.7 that he would make it a local and indie station. We all feel that the "Top 40" programming the other stations do tends to get really stale kinda quickly. The music we play is always new, it's stuff a lot of people have never heard before and it's just as accessible as the Top 40 stuff. Not to mention that a lot of the music we play is local. So now we have this place where we can play the less played and sometimes more obscure music as well as all of the new local up and comers that are headlining our local venues.

We have been playing nothing but indie music and local bands on 97.7 and we also like to let people of the community come on and express their faith from time to time. Some people like to give us flak about that but 97.7 is more than just a music station it's a community station and there are a lot of people who like to talk about their faith and we respect that. But really that's just about 2 hours of the 168 that there are in the week. We also give radio classes to children 10-17 and we air that on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and we broadcast it. So as a station we're doing more than just music. We're doing everything that's local and we're raising a new generation of DJ's and Radio Personalities.

EM: Just out of curiosity, any chance that maybe, some of the old Valley rock bands of the 60's and 70's (Simon Reyes and The Outerlimits, Playboys of Edinburg, Christopher and the Souls, The Headstones) might have some of their songs played?

ZC: I'll be the first to tell you that I am not an authority on local music. I went to a bunch of shows growing up at the VFW and at Art Awakenings and the Incubator back in the day but some of this stuff I've never heard of. This kinda emphasizes the importance of having a station like this. If you can give me some of those lost classics I would be more than happy to tell you that we'd play it on 97.7. In fact, speaking of this. I just finished talking to Charlie Vela from Sound of Rain studios this past week. He is willing to hook us up with his personal collection which spans about 12 years of all of the local bands that he has collected so we can air it all on 97.7. If the music is clean we will be more than happy to air it.

EM: Who are some of the current local bands that have been featured on your station? Who are some bands that you're aware of that you're looking to feature soon?

ZC: We've played: Sick/SeaJungle Bodies, Migel Abiel, The Young Maths, Dignan, The Peppered Moths, Christ Hair, Lunch, Land Locked Pirates off the top of my head.

Mayberry just sent me some stuff that I'm listening to right now and it's all pretty solid stuff. Rock Angels LLC on behalf of The Skeptic sent us a song the other day. I have a full inbox of stuff that I have to screen and put on the air for this coming week.

EM: Where would people interested in your station be able to find out more about you online?

ZC: 97.7fm is a low powered station. We only reach Edinburg, Mission, and Mcallen. This is a region that we've dubbed "The Triad". According to a few economical reports, they have tended to do that too. Our online presence is probably one of our best qualities. You don't even need an app!! You can find us at www.thecity977.com you can put it into your smartphones web browser and the music will play. Plug that into your AUX port in your car and take us anywhere! We're looking to make a better website for playlists and stuff but since everyone who works at the station are all part timers we have to make due with what we got. You can also find us on FB at www.facebook.com/thecity977 in fact we encourage everyone to like that page because it's more up to date as far as announcements go than our website. The website is home to the stream and that's just as important.

EM: Before we go, anything else you would like to mention or plug?

ZC: If you would like more information on anything you can message me on Facebook, message 97.7 on Facebook or call Joe Martinez at 956-789-0702. We do radio classes at the Mcallen Incubator for the kids 10-17 at 6:30 pm to 9 pm, Tuesdays and Thursdays every week. We're always looking for interns and regular people to help us out. It counts as community service and looks good by itself on a resume so everyone wins there. If you're interested in turning in a song, please remember that we're all part timers and screening songs is time consuming as it is, we don't have the time or the manpower to edit tracks to clean them for the air. If you can't say it on daytime tv you probably can't say it on the radio. So please take that into consideration before turning in a song. We encourage turning in music, but we still have to answer to the FCC.

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