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Spicing up the radio waves
Tune in to WOUB-AM's 'Arroz y Frijoles' during Hispanic Heritage Month and beyond

Sept. 21, 2007
By Mary Reed | Photo by Shawn Workman

Dave Garcia and Julio Cumba are in the studio deejaying their usual Sunday 4 to 6 p.m. time slot. Their radio program, titled "Arroz y Frijoles" (rice and beans) has them spinning discs from just about every genre of Latin music. While the scene could be playing out in Los Angeles or New York, it's not: They are right here in the campus studios of WOUB-AM (1340).

David Garcia (left) and Julio CumbaThis year's National Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 to Oct. 15) celebrates the theme Hispanic Americans: Making a Positive Impact on American Society. Garcia and Cumba are doing that for the Ohio University community every day, and the radio show is just one means.

"We're just havin' fun, playing music," says Garcia, the university's director of undergraduate admissions. In reality, the show provides an outlet for entertainment and information for members -- and prospective members -- of the university's Hispanic community.

With 322 Hispanic students on campus in 2006-07 (1.6 percent of the student population), there's tremendous room for growth. Garcia sees this as a good thing.

"Hispanic students can come here and gain leadership experience. They can come here and create some buzz as we have done with the radio program," he says. "Our hope is to get students involved in the radio program who might want to be a DJ and to educate the Hispanic community about upcoming events." 

"Arroz y Frijoles" will provide a forum for guests who can speak about issues of importance to the Latino community and promote programs such as Hispanic Heritage Month and offerings through the Latino Student Union. 

Once Garcia and Cumba received the go-ahead from WOUB to do the show, they got together, each bringing their lists of names. They quickly settled on "Arroz y Frijoles." Cumba explains why. "Rice and beans is something that's cross-cultural; it's recognizable."

This cross-cultural component is reflected in the show's musical diversity. "We span so many different genres. People tend to think Hispanic music is just the same," says Garcia, who is Mexican-American. The pair mixes it up with tejano, norteño, salsa, merengue, Cuban jazz. "Even a little bit of Ricky Martin," Garcia says. "He played it," Cumba responds, pointing to Garcia. 

Much of the work the men do for admissions takes them out of the office "We're road warriors," says Cumba, an admissions adviser who travels September through November to high schools and college fairs throughout northern Ohio. He and Garcia even made a recruiting trip to Texas last year.

What sells Hispanic students on Ohio University? "I do," says Cumba. "My boyish good looks and devilish charm." He's joking, but in fact Cumba and Garcia do directly sell prospective Latino students on the university. 

"We can say, 'Hey, this is where we came from. We both made it. We're here.' That's what brings 'em here," says Cumba, who is from a Puerto Rican neighborhood on Cleveland's west side. He came to Ohio University as part of the second class of Templeton Scholars. After graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering in 2006, he joined the admissions staff. 

Both men were first-generation college students. 

"I was the first one in my family to go to school. I didn't have a lot of help," Cumba recalls. "I wish there had been somebody like me ... to show me the ropes."


Updated at 10:45 a.m. on Sept. 24 to correct photography attribution.

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Published: Jan 3, 2007 9:35:38 AM
 
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