Mexican-American Radio Disney host Ernie D. has been in the entertainment industry for years, interviewing Latin Disney celebrities like Selena Gomez and Bella Thorne, and entertaining millions of listeners across the country. And with Radio Disney’s 15th Anniversary coming up this week (Nov. 18), Latina.com asked Ernie about his Latin roots, how he got started as a radio personality, and why he loves his job.
When did you get into radio?
When I was 19 years old, it was a long time ago. I actually started at a Spanish station in Dallas, Texas called KICK FM. We would play a lot of regional Tejano music. We would play Selena, a lot of young Enrique [Iglesias] at the time, a lot of Shakira, she was just breaking out back then. So that’s where I sort of cut my teeth, if you want to call it that.
How does it feel to celebrate Radio Disney’s 15th Anniversary?
It’s really mind blowing, especially when people bring it up because I don’t feel like I’ve been working here for 14 of those 15 years. Everything goes by so fast. It’s been such a great learning experience for me to see the company grow from only having four or five stations to having over 30 stations on XM and Sirius. We have an app now, which is kind of crazy too. It’s been really eye opening just to see how far the company itself has come being an employee as long as I have.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Wow, there are so many. I think the best thing. I mean, obviously talking to Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber and Bella Thorne, all those celebrity kids is awesome. But I think to me, my favorite part of my job is talking to the listeners. They can be so much more entertaining and fun just with their everyday stories of life, of things that they did that day, or things that are going wrong in their world or things they want to celebrate that they want to tell the whole country. it definitely changes your perspective a little too. You talk to kids who are so excited to get on the air and immediately, if you’re having a bad day, it really just brightens your day and lets you know why you do what you do. It’s very fulfilling listening to them, hearing them win a prize. We’re actually getting ready to give away a week's worth of crazy prizes. We’re giving away XBOX 360s, iPad2s, and iTunes gift cards, and iPods, all kinds of crazy stuff.
What are your Latin roots?
Well my grandmother, I call her ‘wewa’ because I couldn’t say abuela when I was little so I always called her ‘wewa’ from when I was a little boy. She’s an orphan so from her side, we don’t really know. But apparently she lived in Chihuahua and that’s kind of where she’s from. And then my dad’s side, they’re Mexican Indians and both my dad and my grandfather are from San Angelo, Texas.
What do you love about being Latino?
I think it’s really the family part of it. Latin families are so close-knit. And they share everything. I remember growing up in my house, we didn’t have a lot of money. We weren’t very privileged at all. It really taught us how to be close and that’s something that I’ve learned as a kid and something I try to instill in my life everyday in my family. Closeness and being there for each other and sharing memories with each other, cooking together, that’s what I think is a really important part of my heritage and where I come from.