South Texas broadcasting legend Humberto Lozano Lopez died Monday morning at CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Shoreline following a nine month battle against various infections and complications from diabetes. He was 74.
Pct. 3 Nueces County Commissioner Oscar Ortiz called Lopez one of the great icons of the community.
"He was an outstanding citizen and a good friend. He was always very involved with the community and gave everybody in the community a voice," Ortiz said. "We're very grateful that we were able to know him and learn from him. We're going to miss him very much, but now he is in a better place."
Lopez made a name for himself as a student in Robstown High School when he auditioned to be the new voice for a 15 minute radio show produced by Dr. Hector P. Garcia of the American G.I. Forum.
According to Lopez's son, Carlos, word of his fathers talent spread from there, eventually leading to a broadcasting job in Corpus Christi and on to San Antonio. Lopez worked several years for the Spanish International Network, which was an earlier incarnation of Univision.
Lopez's "Coast to Coast" radio show went out nationwide and led to a number of jobs doing voiceover dubbing for theatrical releases in Hollywood. Lopez had the opportunity to dub a number of Bruce Lee movies for Spanish speaking distribution, as well as dubbing work in Spanish for the movie "Patton."
"My father made a very good name for himself in broadcasting, but he always had a dream to own his own radio station," Lopez said.
That dream became a reality in 1987, when Lopez opened Magic 105 in Corpus Christi, the nation's first Tejano FM station.
With the abundance of technology today, music downloads, iTunes and mp3 players, Lopez said many people forget how inaccessible good Tejano music was on the radio 25 years ago.
"Back then it wasn't like that. We were trailblazing," Lopez said.
Following the success of Magic 105 in Corpus Christi, Lopez went on to open Magic 95 in Victoria and K Alamo 98.9 FM and 93.3 FM in San Antonio, bringing rising Tejano music by Selena and Mazz to the masses, Lopez said.
In the process, they also opened additional stations in Corpus Christi such as 1330 AM and 107.7 FM.
Lopez also took on the promotion of Tejano music on the small screen, with the creation of KTMV, the first Tejano music video channel, which led to the creation of a similar channel in Victoria and KXTM in San Antonio.
"He loved to do music. He loved to play music. He loved to promote Tejano culture and the culture that existed in our community. He had a fire inside to show the talents of our people," Lopez said. "These were great bands that had been around for some time. He went to television to show the richness of our culture."
He also used his broadcasts to give a voice to Robstown citizens in need. Lopez's son said his father believed their stations were a gift from God.
When a house would burn down in Robstown, Lopez felt it was his place to get the information on the air and draw in support from the community.
"They needed help and we needed to help them because they were a part of our community, part of our family. We continue that tradition to this day," Lopez said.
Family was the biggest part of Lopez's life. With his wife Minerva by his side, and 12 kids behind him, Lopez always turned to his family as a source of pride. He was proud of his children, all of whom graduated from Robstown High School. Lopez's son said his father was proud to be from Robstown and cherished his time growing up in the small town.
A standout athlete in track and football, Lopez lettered all four years on the varsity team as a safety, and to this day hold the school record for the 100-yard dash, which he set in 1956 at 9.9 seconds. He compete at state that year for the Cotton Pickers.
For Robstown Mayor Rodrigo Ramon Jr., Lopez's passing hit close to home. The two were childhood friends since elementary school.
Ramon said to the people of Robstown, Lopez was an icon for what he was able to accomplish for the community.
Lopez was part of the history of the development of Robstown, Ramon said, and his passing is not only a great loss to his family, but to the entire community.
"He was a big part of Robstown for many years. A lot of history goes back to Lopez, how the city progressed," Ramon said.