YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

'Piolín' hopes to reboot his career

Three months after Eddie 'Piolín' Sotelo lost his Spanish-language radio show on Univision amid harassment allegations, the Mexican-born personality is to launch a satellite show.

October 08, 2013|Reed Johnson and Meg James
  • Eddie "Piolin" Sotelo
Eddie "Piolin" Sotelo (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles…)

Barely three months ago, Eddie "Piolín" Sotelo's Spanish-language radio career appeared to be derailed.

He had lost his popular "Piolín por la Mañana" morning program amid allegations of sexual and emotional harassment by a male co-worker. In the days that followed, six other former co-workers alleged that they too had been harassed by Sotelo, setting off an ongoing legal skirmish.

Although Sotelo repeatedly denied the accusations, he and his longtime employer, the powerful media conglomerate Univision Communications Inc., parted ways in July. The rupture followed years of gradually declining ratings, as Sotelo's show was overtaken by Spanish-language rivals.

PHOTOS: Hollywood Backlot moments

But now Sotelo is back and, he insists, bigger than ever. On Oct. 18, he will launch the four-hour "El Show de Piolín" on SiriusXM's Piolín Radio channel 147, which will air live locally from 6 to 10 a.m. and repeat throughout the day.

"It's like I was playing in a sandbox and now I'm going to play in Griffith Park," Sotelo said of his switch to satellite radio.

On Monday, seated behind a console at his new studio in a Wilshire Boulevard office tower, Sotelo, 42, whose nickname means Tweety Bird, was characteristically chipper as he spoke about his future.

He voiced confidence that his blue-collar radio fan base would be willing to pay a subscription fee to follow him to Sirius for a program of his signature mix of topical commentary, guest interviews, pranks, listener call-ins, contests and Mexican regional music.

"I'm going to have more liberty," he said. "Now you're going to be able to listen to Piolín through the whole United States and part of Mexico."

ON LOCATION: Where the cameras roll

Piolín Radio will be part of the $5.99 Spanish-language monthly subscription package SiriusXM Español. Subscribers also will have access to "Piolín y Más," a complementary trial package that will allow them to tune into Piolín's show as well as a lineup of Spanish- and English-language music, sports, news and entertainment channels on smartphones and other devices, as well as online.

SiriusXM is seeking to add to its current 1.7 million Latino subscribers, out of a total customer base of 25 million. Jim E. Meyer, its chief executive, told investors last month that recruiting Sotelo was an unexpected but welcome development.

"When we saw the opportunity, let me tell you, it took us a week to get that done and jump on it," Meyer said last month at a Goldman Sachs investment conference.

Entertainment analysts had mixed reactions to Sotelo's new satellite venture.

"This is a very risky move for Piolín because he could fall off the radar and lose his relevancy with his audience," said Adam Jacobson, a Spanish-language media consultant based in Miami. "But for Sirius, this is a great move. They need a bigger platform to reach the Latino audience and there are many areas of the country with exploding Latino populations, including in the Midwestern states, where there are not that many terrestrial Spanish-language radio stations."

Julio Rumbaut, a Miami-based media adviser, agreed.

PHOTOS: Celebrities by The Times

"For SiriusXM, this is a good strategy because they need a tent-pole personality, someone who is a real draw, to attract more Hispanic subscribers," Rumbaut said, adding that he doubted Sotelo's audience would hold the allegations against him. "Piolín gets a clean start here."

Although Sotelo was eager Monday to discuss his latest career twist, his upbeat demeanor slackened whenever the conversation turned to the allegations against him, which he said were false and motivated by jealousy and greed.

"I feel really betrayed," he said. "And it's so painful. I don't want no one to go through this."

Pressed about his assertion that he was completely innocent of any wrongful behavior, Sotelo repeated his previous denials: "They're doing it because they want money. It's an extortion."

In August, Sotelo filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court against the six former staff members, alleging they had banded together to extort $4.9 million from him.

Robert Clayton, a Los Angeles attorney for the six former employees, said in a statement Monday that his firm is in the process of filing a motion to dismiss Sotelo's "publicity stunt lawsuit."

FULL COVERAGE: Fall TV preview 2013

"Mr. Sotelo's attempt to silence the people that worked on his show will not work," the statement read. Asked why, if the allegations against him were untrue, he and Univision had parted company so suddenly, Sotelo declined to give details, acknowledging that he had signed a non-disclosure agreement.

"I think in anything there's seasons," he said. "This is my new season with SiriusXM. That was my season with Univision. And it's a good change."

Los Angeles Times Articles