Art Laboe gets ready for his call-in dedication radio show in the KDAY studios in Palm Springs in 2015. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

Opinion

Opinion: Remembering the beloved radio host Art Laboe

Art Laboe left a mark on the hearts of the Chicano community. He united us through music, radio and with his true love for his listeners.
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/georginamv/" target="_self">Georgina Valencia</a>

Georgina Valencia

November 10, 2022
Art Laboe, the infamous voice of the “Art Laboe Connection Show,” passed away on October 10. This long-time radio host who connected distanced loved ones through music and embodied the Chicano culture continues to be mourned by those who listened to his soothing voice for the past 70 years. 

Having had a passion for radio since his earliest years, Laboe dedicated his life to being on the radio. He was one of the first to introduce R&B rock n’ roll and soul oldies to the West Coast and quickly gained popularity from the Chicano community. 

Laboe was not only notorious for his iconic radio voice but also for his interactions with his listeners. The Art Laboe Connection Show offered the chance for people to send their love with oldies, a genre of music referring to the umbrella of pop, rock, and R&B songs from the 1950s-70s. 

The news of Laboe’s death caught me by surprise and left me sad that someone so important to the history of the Chicano community and the radio world had passed. I have memories of listening to the show with both of my parents and remember the sincere conversations Laboe would have with his callers. He delivered messages to moms, friends, relatives, incarcerated lovers, and more, all with a genuine love for his listeners. Heartfelt messages and song dedications were delivered with sincerity by Laboe and his iconic radio voice.

His infamous music taste never failed to please his listeners, the majority being Mexican American or Chicano. My late father had memories of going to lowrider car shows in his twenties and listening to Art Laboe’s oldies. These songs created a warm and loving atmosphere that brought everyone together. He had continued listening to the show, allowing me to discover my love for oldies and the comfort of the Art Laboe Connection Show. 

The songs Laboe played were so loved, a compilation album of songs he coined, “Oldies but Goodies” remained number 1 on the billboard top 10 for 183 weeks in 1957. 

My mother was especially sad at the passing of Laboe, she remembered listening to his show from a young age at her father’s job and well into her adulthood. 

“He’s the reason I started listening to oldies, I’ll never forget that comforting radio voice,” she said.

Laboe’s love was seen by generations of Hispanics who resonated with his familiar voice and the songs he played.

Art Laboe truly left a mark on the hearts of the Chicano community, making him a striking figure who not only united us through music and radio but also with his true love for his listeners. Laboe is irreplaceable and will be forever missed by those who listened to his show.