On April 5, 2021 a respected member of the Latino community of the Quad Cities, Oswaldo Javier Sanchez Saavedra, passed away at the age of 77 years old.
Javier Sanchez was born in Monterrey, Mexico. He worked at a company that manufactured glass when he was young. In 1966 he left his life in Mexico behind and came to the United States. Mr. Sanchez made his way to the Quad Cities where he married his first wife and had four children with her later.
In the Quad Cities, Mr. Sanchez started to look for ways to serve his community. He got an opportunity to do so with an hour long show on a radio station in Galesburg. Every Saturday he would turn on the microphone to play music and share local, national and international news in Spanish. Later he moved on to KWNT, a country radio station that at that time was located in Davenport, IA. At this radio station he was presenting music, news and employment information to the migrant community. Unfortunately, the radio station was sold and Mr. Sanchez could not continue with his Sunday radio show. This did not stop him from looking for ways to continue serving the Latino community in the Quad Cities.
Father Rudy Juarez from Sacred Heart Church in Davenport at that time, reached out to Sanchez and other members of the community to create “EL Comite Hispano” the Hispanic Committee of the Quad Cities. His first project as a committee was to speak with St. Ambrose University in search of an opportunity to do radio in Spanish. In 1981, KALA, the radio station from St. Ambrose University, gave Mr. Sanchez a chance and every Saturday Mr. Sanchez was broadcasting in Spanish from KALA.
David Baker, Operations Manager at KALA-FM, met Mr. Sanchez in 1984 when Baker was only a student at St. Ambrose University. “He was friendly and helpful in showing me a few things around the control board of the radio station. At that time, Javier was one of the hosts of the “Revista Musical” program, featuring hit songs in Spanish each week. Back then, most of the records were 45 RPM vinyl singles.” Baker said.
Mr. Sanchez was not just a local radio personality. He also participated in the organization of some big events like the old festival La Herencia Hispana. He was also instrumental in creation of a bilingual program in Ericsson Elementary School in Moline that many local schools integrated as well later on. After his retirement Mr. Sanchez worked at CADS as an advisor for Spanish speakers that had alcohol and drugs issues. He also helped form the group of Nueva Vida, an Alcoholics Anonymous support group.
“Javier’s influence on the Spanish radio programming segments at KALA will be felt for years to come. He was keenly interested in more than broadcasting music. He had been talking with me about growing KALA’s Latino audience by providing more local news and public affairs programming. His years of volunteer service will never be forgotten by us at 88.5 FM. As one KALA Facebook follower commented- ‘Saturday mornings will never be the same’.” Baker added.
Luis Lara, his compadre and fellow DJ companion for many decades, reflects on Sanchez’ passing “I can’t help but feel proud of having shared more than forty years of friendship with him” Lara said.
“Javier was more than my friend, he was like a brother. And although they always told us that we argued a lot on the air, that was always part of the show. Javier was always a very passionate person about many subjects, and that was my favorite part of our friendship. Since I always appreciate having infinite topics of conversation with him on the air and together when we had a cup of coffee.” Lara remembers fondly.
In the last months of life Mr. Sanchez talked a lot about the importance of finding new volunteers that could continue on and build on what he and others like him started at KALA en Español.
Our deepest condolences go to a family of a greatly respected member of Latino community of the Quad Cities. Oswaldo Javier Sanchez Saavedra is survived by four of his children, thirteen grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren and his wife of the last 26 years Rosa Sanchez.
“We will see you later, or better said you will hear us later” Javier Sanchez used to say when signing off his radio show.
Your voice will be missed Javier Sanchez. Rest in Power.