Mexican Bandstand : The Spanish-Language TV Show, Taped in Anaheim, Is Growing in Popularity and Impact; Syndication Could Be Next


It’s “Soul Train” en espanol, the Latin “American Bandstand”--a television show featuring top musical acts of Spanish-speaking America with interludes of nightclub-style dancing.

The show: “Mexicanisimo,” a one-hour program taped in Anaheim and airing every Sunday at 6 p.m. on KWHY-TV Channel 22.

The show frequently spotlights bands from Billboard Magazine’s Top 40 Latin charts.

While “Soul Train” and “American Bandstand” lost steam after the arrival of MTV, the realm of Spanish-language music entertainment remains wide open, and “Mexicanisimo” producer John Schroder saw that.


“There has not really been a Spanish show that has been dedicated to dance and bands exclusively,” said Schroder, who is no newcomer to the local entertainment scene.

When Channel 22 agreed to air his show based on a sample tape, Schroder formed United Productions Television Corp. and fronted the money to build a $200,000 studio for the show, although it’s not in the likeliest of places.

Shows are taped in the belly of a swap meet building that Schroder manages, the Anaheim Marketplace.

It’s not Hollywood, Schroder admits, but he believes the show’s success is partly due to its accessibility to a local Latino audience.

“Where else can you see Grammy Award-winners while you shop for socks or underwear in Orange County?” said Schroder during a break in a dance session being taped on a recent Sunday morning.

Dance segments are taped every other Sunday, two shows at a time. The 6,500-square-foot studio looks like a warehouse converted into a nightclub, complete with deejay and a TV screen flickering videos of the guest bands.


“Things like this are always in Los Angeles,” Esmeralda Valdez, a 23-year-old Santa Ana resident, said in Spanish after a dance. “Now we have something here that people around here can come to.” The next dance taping is April 21.

Headline bands are taped when they are available. Some of the opening acts, often Orange County bands, are chosen through “La Batalla de Las Bandas,” or battle of the bands, held every Saturday and Sunday at the swap meet. The winner gets on the show.

“The dynamic the show has is excellent,” said Antonio Villalpando, a record promoter for Fonovisa, a major Van Nuys-based distributor of Latin music recordings.

“It’s doing the same job MTV does, which is to make identifiable the most important bands in the music industry,” Villalpando said. “Of course, this is on a much smaller scale because MTV is seen across the country.”

The name of the show reflects its mostly Mexican music format, which caters to a predominantly Mexican American audience. Mexicanisimo means “very Mexican.”

But because program officials think the potential audience extends beyond Southern California’s Mexican American population, they are adding “Internacional” to the show’s logo to include other Spanish speakers. The change is especially important, Schroder said, if the show gets picked up by a network.



Since it premiered last August, just 30 days after the studio was built, the program has featured more than 100 bands--with styles ranging from tropical and Norteno to contemporary pop and rock en espanol.

Another reason the show has been able to land significant acts is the 11-member crew’s willingness to adjust to recording times dictated by the bands’ schedules, Schroder said.

“When Grammy-winning band Los Temerarios [the Bold] were here for only one day, we worked around their schedule,” said Schroder, who also directs the show. That meant the program’s crew--including Schroder’s wife, Stephanie, who operates a camera--assembled to record the Norteno (Mexican country) band at 11 p.m. on a Monday.

“All bands wait for the opportunity to be on a show like this,” said Rogelio Balver, saxophone player for Los Pumas del Norte, another Norteno band at the studio for a recent taping.

Los Pumas joined a list of bands including Norteno bands Liberacion and Sonora Dinamita, all-female pop ballad group Sparks, soloist Laura Flores and Gothic punqueros Victimas del Dr. Cerebro.

Although gaining in popularity, the show remains a far cry from the national popularity and power in promoting musicians that “American Bandstand” held during the peak years of its three-decade run on ABC.


For instance, “Mexicanisimo” host Jarocho (the stage name for Javier Hernandez) has had to pick up bands in a van from their Los Angeles studios, or from their hotels, and drive them to the Anaheim studio.

“Sometimes, I’d have to pick up one band for taping, drop them off, then pick up another band,” Hernandez said.

The show began two years ago with a meeting between Schroder and Hernandez, who had a traveling concert show that he took from swap meet to swap meet in Orange County for four years. It featured small- and big-time Mexican bands during the quebradita and banda music craze and was called “Mexicanisimo.”

Schroder had been looking to produce a music TV show and handed Hernandez a videotape of a show he had produced in the late ‘80s for KDOC-TV Channel 56, Orange County’s only commercial TV station.

Schroder, who owned and operated alcohol-free nightclubs from 1981 to 1990 in Orange and Santa Ana, regularly produced a hip-hop and rap TV show at a club called ZZAPP, now Garibaldi Restaurant, at the swap meet.

That show, which ran from 1988-89, used the same “Soul Train”-”American Bandstand” format now employed on “Mexicanisimo.”


“Before, we had to go look for bands,” Hernandez said in an interview in the studio’s greenroom, where autographed pictures of some 30 major Mexican performers decorate the walls. “Now they look for us, and if we look for a band, we look for a big name.”

“Mexicanisimo” has reached its highest ratings since it started airing last summer, which has led Schroder to believe it’s time to think bigger. Now he’s talking mainstream network television.

“We give both dance and music equal importance,” Schroder said. “Not even ‘American Bandstand’ or ‘Soul Train’ played as many bands as we do.”

The program features three to four bands per show and highlights several dance-oriented records that are on the charts that week--something several dancers expressed they’d want to have more of.

“Norteno music is fine, but it’s not as good to dance to as merengue or techno,” said Edith Lewis, 31, of Los Angeles, who has danced regularly on the show. “They need to play more of that because, well, it’s a dance show.”

Ratings-wise, “Mexicanisimo” has started nudging into a market that for years has been ruled by Florida-based “Padrisimo,” a live music-oriented program that airs over the Telemundo Network on KVEA-TV Channel 52 locally.


Broadcast in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties, “Mexicanisimo” has garnered competitive ratings recently.

In March, “Mexicanisimo” posted a Nielsen Hispanic household average rating of 6.1, compared with Telemundo’s 5.8 for “Padrisimo,” which airs at the same time. And for the last three months, “Mexicanisimo” averaged a 5.26 rating and “Padrisimo” 5.93.


The total Latino television-household population in Southern California is 1.3 million. An 8.0 rating, for example, represents 8% of that total, or 104,000 households. As defined by A.C. Nielsen, a television household is a house with a television set. Nielsen estimates four people per Latino household.

“For a show produced in Anaheim with a budget that can’t compare to Telemundo’s ‘Padrisimo,’ ‘Mexicanisimo’ has tremendous potential,” said Sara Garibay, Channel 22 program director. “I’m sure that with time, and after the show finishes making its adjustments, it could go into syndication.”

“Mexicanisimo” is at a watershed. MTV Latino, which has aired in East Los Angeles, Hacienda Heights and Southgate for two years, is not yet available throughout the country. Further, the channel doesn’t play tropical or Norteno music.

“Mexicanisimo,” Schroder said, reaches out to a population that is still trying to be seen and heard.


“I would have never guessed that this place existed here, in a swap meet,” said Brea resident Santos Kilos, 23, who heard about the show on Spanish radio. “This brings part of our culture closer to home.”

* Free concerts take place in the “Mexicanisimo” studio every Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. at Anaheim Marketplace, 1440 S. Anaheim Blvd. Dance tapings are every other Sunday (the next one is April 21) from noon to 3 p.m. Dancers should arrive by 11:30 a.m. The winner of a dance contest is chosen by viewers. (714) 999-6680.