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El Paso Radio Legend Steve Crosno dies at 66

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by AtcoFan, Aug 6, 2006.

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  1. AtcoFan

    AtcoFan Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Chicago, IL, USA
    CD: Steve Crosno Day July 9, 1967, El Paso County Coliseum



    Steve Crosno, founder of the "Cruising With Crosno" radio show and arguably the most famous on-air personality that this region ever had, died Saturday, August 5, 2006. He was 66.

    "This city has lost a part of its identity," said George Reynosa, owner of All That Music record store.


    For the past couple of years, Crosno had been ill and he had recently been diagnosed with cancer. Throughout July he spent several days in a hospital in Las Cruces before going home last week. He died at his home in Las Cruces.

    Crosno, who began working in radio at age 16, is credited with breaking color barriers in El Paso radio. He was among the first to help local bands make recordings and get airtime.

    His TV show, the "The Crosno Hop," aired in the '60s, '70s and '80s and was attended mostly by Hispanics. His radio show, "Cruising with Crosno," will be forever linked with lowriders, white T-shirts and Sunday afternoon cookouts.

    "The common person is who Steve catered to with his Crosno thing," Reynosa said of the nasal twang and 5-inch sideburns that made Crosno unique. "He was truly a celebrity, but he didn't carry himself that way."

    In past interviews, Crosno said he was just playing what people requested. From these requests evolved Crosno's distinct radio format; locally referred to as the "El Paso Sound " it's known nationally as Chicano Soul.

    Crosno mixed Spanish songs, such as "Cariño Nuevo" by Sunny and Sunliners, with English songs, such as "Smile Now, Cry Later." In between he played nonstop, silly skits in which others made fun of him. It is this format, with some modifications, that Mike Guerrero emulates with his Sunday afternoon show, "The Fox Jukebox."

    "A lot of my listeners love El Paso-style oldies and that's what he brought to the airwaves," Guerrero, 37, said. "He was an inspiration to a lot of people, and he had a lot of fans."

    Linda Falen, Crosno's sister, said her brother had a love for the people of this region that was unmatched. "Especially the youth -- he tried to help them," she said. "And then there was the music -- he loved the music of El Paso because it is unlike anywhere else."

    Funeral arrangements are pending, and family and friends are working to set up a fund to pay for the services. He is survived by his sisters, Linda Crosno Falen and Susan Wayland.
  2. Dan C

    Dan C Forum Fotographer

    The West
    I grew up listening to Crosno on KSET in the early 80s. My sister and I have fond memories listening to his show in the mornings. He eventually left for a Spanish station and I think that's where he basically stayed for most of the rest of his career.

    Somewhere I have some tapes of Steve's show that I have to dig up.

    This news makes me very sad. He was an El Paso legend, back when local radio still had real personality.

    dan c
  3. AtcoFan

    AtcoFan Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Chicago, IL, USA
    Border DJ is remembered, missed by fans, colleagues

    by Ramón Rentería


    Steve Crosno once said he would be nothing without an audience.

    "What drives me ... is the people and making them laugh," Crosno told an interviewer. "In a way I guess I'm looking for love and acceptance."

    An outpouring of love continued to flood oldies radio stations and Web sites Monday as admiring fans mourned and praised the popular border disc jockey with the familiar nasal twang.




    Crosno was best known for his generous spirit, playing Spanish music on English radio, and for splicing comical audio clips from radio and TV into his shows. Many fans remember him as the witty host of the "Crosno Hop," an American Bandstand-style show that he hosted on El Paso television on Saturday afternoons in the 1960s and '70s.

    Crosno, 66, died Saturday at his home in Mesilla Park, N.M., after a lingering illness with emphysema. He had recently been diagnosed with cancer, according to friends and family.

    All That Music record shop owner George Reynoso, speaking on behalf of Crosno's family, said a memorial tribute will be scheduled in El Paso within two weeks. Crosno was to be cremated this week.


    "There is a collective shock and grief that we endured most of Sunday," Reynoso said. "A lot of people are seeking some kind of spiritual closure to our loss."

    Reynoso is trying to set up a bank account where people can send donations in lieu of flowers.

    Promoter Carlos Flores of El Paso's Premier Entertainment staged various fundraising events in the past three years to help Crosno pay his bills. He and a small group of friends constantly helped Crosno, who had no retirement or medical benefits.

    Flores described Crosno as a humble man who influenced many people in El Paso's radio and music scene. Crosno is also credited with exposing soul music legend James Brown to border audiences.

    "The richest person in this town won't have one-third of the friends that he had," Flores said.

    Crosno often expressed disappointment that the corporate radio world eventually shunned him and his style of radio show.

    Sonny Powell of the "Night Dreamers" is among many musicians that Crosno inspired or influenced. He helped Powell with his first recording and used his influence to get the "Night Dreamers" on a tour with "The Coasters" and "The Shirelles."

    The "Night Dreamers" played live with James Brown whenever Brown performed on Crosno's television show.

    "Steve was out there for everybody. He tried to help out all musicians," Powell said. "He didn't mind who you were or what race. We're going to miss him, man."

    Shirley Baca of Las Cruces, a former state representative and one time business associate with Crosno, has fond memories of sitting with him on the roof of Crosno's house at nightfall as he reminisced about his childhood and life. Crosno loved Pepsi and adored Charma, a pure-bred dachshund that Baca gave him for his 60th birthday.

    "He was very open-minded, not judgmental and very witty," Baca said. "He addressed life in his own way. He was very creative and extremely sensitive."

    Mike Guerrero, host of the Sunday oldies program on KOFX-FM (92.3), dedicated the seven-hour show to Crosno and invited fans to share memories.

    Little Joe Hernandez and Sunny Ozuna, two Tejano music legends, were among the callers. Crosno promoted their songs, classics like "Crazy Baby" and "Cariño Nuevo," on English radio in El Paso.

    "It's a sad day when legends like Steve pass away. Of course, his legacy will continue and all his fans will never forget him," Hernandez told listeners. "He did so much for the music world in El Paso ... and actually nationally. He was a pretty crazy, beautiful person."

    Former El Paso radio personality Sonny Melendrez, now in San Antonio, set up a Crosno tribute page on his own Web site. He worked with Crosno at KELP-AM (920).

    "I will always remember Steve as someone who didn't take himself or life too seriously. He used his gift of humor as a way of giving back and never tried to hurt anyone with his words or antics," Melendrez wrote on his Web page.

    Eddie Gonzalez grew up listening to Crosno near Sunset Heights and watching the TV show.

    "He was always like a part of the family," Gonzalez said. "He was in your house every day, in a way."

    Gonzalez, an oldies, rock and Spanish music specialist at All That Music, recalls how scores of people showed up at the store one day for a Crosno autograph session.

    "It was incredible to see how people loved him," Gonzalez said.

    Brad Witt, an on-air personality and production director for KVST-FM (99.7) in Conroe, Texas, near Houston, counts Crosno as one of the five most important people who influenced his career in radio. Others on the list include Melendrez and Wolfman Jack.

    Witt grew up listening to Crosno on the radio and watching him on television as a teenager in El Paso.

    "I'm 61. He's the one who introduced me to the music of Sunny Ozuna and the Sunliners, which I love to this day," Witt said. "It was a fun show and a great time to be growing up."
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