News Column

'Si Se Puede' Wraps Up After 40 Years

January 22, 2013

Ellysa Gonzalez

After 40 years of informative, nonprofit broadcast primarily targeted to the Hispanic community, "Si Se Puede" went off-air on Dec. 23. Ernesto Barton, "Si Se Puede" founder and KEJS-FM Power 106 manager, said the show evolved into an informative tool for all local audiences.

"It was a weekly show," Barton said. "It ran for 40 years. That's over 2,000 weekly programs."

Barton said he began the show because he felt the Hispanic community needed a form of communication that could be understood.

"The 1970 Lubbock tornado reinforced that need to reach out to the community," he said. "There was a communication gap with the Hispanic community."

In 1972, Barton began recording the show at the KMAC studios after working out a deal with R.B. McAlister, then owner of KMAC. Barton began filming the show for free in the studio every Saturday morning.

He said when R.B. died, the deal was upheld by his son Bill and later, his grandson Greg.

Barton said he and Willie Acosta, the first co-host, broadcast the first show on an open floor with one light and a hand-held microphone.

He remembers another episode broadcast in the parking lot.

"They saw we were for real," Barton said. "So they fixed a set."

Mary Ann Garcia later became a host with Barton. She said she was hesitant when Barton asked her to be on air.

"I told him no," she said. "I didn't know any Spanish. Most of the guests spoke Spanish. I learned it through trial and error."

Garcia said it didn't take much convincing by Barton before she was on-air.

After about 20 years of co-hosting, Garcia retired from the show. She said the filming took up a large part of Saturday mornings, which she chose to devote to her family instead. Garcia said the memories she made on the show are countless.

"We had so much fun," she said. "...It was an experience I'm glad I had a part in."

A few years after the show began, Louis Trejo began appearing on the show to promote fundraisers for the Northwest Little League. His frequent appearances led to an offer by Barton to become a substitute.

"I would take long weekends to go see my parents," Garcia said. "Trejo filled in. He loved it."

Trejo said the substitute job eventually turned into a regular cohost position after Garcia left the show.

"The beautiful thing was, (Barton) gave us an opportunity," Trejo said. "I appreciated him for that."

Barton said he told few people about his plans leading up to the last show.

He said plans were underway for changes at the TV station and he was asked to record his show at a time that was inconvenient for those involved. Barton said he decided it was time to let it go.

"We parted company very friendly," Barton said. "I'm grateful to the McAlister family."

Barton said the "Si Se Puede" crew found out about the last show a week before it was recorded and aired because he would send the plans for the next episode to the station.

Barton said viewers found out within the last segments of the show.

Trejo said he planned to speak with Barton about hosting his last show within the foreseeable future just before he found out it would be the last show. He said it caught him by surprise.

"It was a little hard to believe, but I said 'Let's go with it,'" Trejo said.

Garcia said Barton called and asked her if she would like to appear on the last episode, but she refused the offer.

"It broke my heart," she said. "It was the last show. I didn't want that weekend to come."

She said she asked Barton why and he said, "Mary Ann, all things must come to an end."



Source: (c)2013 the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (Lubbock, Texas) Distributed by MCT Information Services