Los Angeles – The voice of Luis González is heard Monday through Friday from 8:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Radio Centro Laboral, a Los Angeles-based online station over which this Guatemalan day laborer broadcasts a message of hope.
Listening to him speak and hearing his tone of voice, his cadence and diction, it sounds like his natural destiny in life was to be an announcer - but getting there took him 50 years.
"I'm 52 years old and all my life I admired the great radio announcers, I dreamed of being one, but thought it was too hard because I only studied up to the sixth grade and I've always had to work hard to earn a living," González told Efe in an interview.
He came to the United States in the year 2000 looking for a better life, and eventually came upon one of the day-laborer centers of the Institute of Popular Education of Southern California, or IDEPSCA, where immigrants from different countries gather every day hoping for contractors to show up and give them work.
Besides being a safe place to wait for work, IDEPSCA provides a learning environment for day laborers with classes in literacy, English, health, and labor and immigration laws.
At the center on Main Street in Los Angeles, González also noticed the operation of an online radio station.
As a volunteer, he set about putting music on the air and telling his fellow laborers to listen because he was there to keep them company, play discs to cheer up their days and offer useful news for them and the whole community.
"Then, two years ago, the coordinator of the center told me they had discovered a course in announcing and thought of me. They paid for the whole 6-month course and I learned so much," the Guatemalan said.
"I studied with a group of real professionals, imagine, sometimes I felt so small, but at the same time they told me that if I fought harder I would be like them," he said.
In the small room with computer and Internet connection that IDESPCA provided for González to take the radio station to a new level, this father of seven children took the work very seriously and on the air was even able to drum up donations of food, clothing and shoes for his fellow day laborers.
Every day he also goes out to try and get work to earn his living, in which case he leaves the entire programming ready to play automatically so that his listeners, who call in frequently with song requests, don't feel he's letting them down.
"I like to play music for them because I think that in some way it makes them feel someone is listening to them, that someone cares and is paying attention to them. The radio station fills up some of our emptiness, because to tell the truth, life is really tough out there," he said.