Castor chosen for Tejano Music Hall
“To radio station owners, he is money in the bank. To the fans, he is a smooth and pleasant voice promoting their culture and heritage. To those in the industry whose careers he helped build, he is an icon, a pioneer and a true Tejano music legend.”— Radio industry insider A familiar voice on 98.5 KRXT’s Ritmo Tejano show belongs to a deejay who was recently inducted
into the Tejano Music Hall of Fame.
Domingo “Sunny” Castor was chosen as a media representative for the honor.
“I wasn’t expecting anything like that. I do what I do for the love of the music,” Castor said. “There were so many people like Little Joe Hernandez who wrote in and nominated me and I was so happy to be inducted. I am overwhelmed.”
At age 71, with more then 50 years promoting Tejano music, Castro’s voice still graces the airwaves, working with his son Roney Castor, at 98.5 KRXT in Rockdale, and on his on “Tejano Program” at KCYL 1450-AM in Lampasas.
Now spinning CDs instead of albums, Castor is still building the careers of young and up coming groups, while the promoters and the super stars still seek him out to be Master of Ceremony for their events.
Throughout the years he has been sought out by promoters everywhere to be the emcee and he has done so for almost every Tejano superstar there is, from Little Joe to Ruben Ramos to Selena.
“I have been all over the world, deejayed all over the Southwest and Roney and I took Tejano music south of the border,” he said.
Norteño music is popular in the states, fed by a large immigrant audience. But Castor said there is a hunger for Tejano music in Mexico and his shows in that country have proven hugely successful.
He spun records for five million people at a time in Tijuana, Mexico at the 150,000 watt mega-super station XLTN.
Castor was born during the Great Depression in 1939 to Pantaleon and Conrada Castor in Marble Falls.
Even though his father stayed close to his construction job at the army post, Domingo worked hard as a migrant worker in the fields. Work left little time for school and his formal education only took him to the third grade, meaning he is mostly self-taught at reading Spanish and English.
When he was at home with his family, after working in the fields all day, his source of entertainment was playing with his friends in the back yard of his small home. On occasions family and friends would gather there to listen to the small radio the family had and sometimes used the cleared area to dance.
At six years old, Domingo had already determined his career path. While many of his friends had grand dreams of being doctors and lawyers, Domingo and his friend Arthur were fascinated with the voices on the radio and both vowed to become radio announcers.
Through a small hole in the wall of the building in the back yard Domingo placed the trumpet horn off an old model T into it and mimicked the radio disc jockeys. While the radio played, he would introduce the songs for his friends.
As a teenager living in Temple, Castor developed a very close brotherly, friendship with the late great Jesse Hernandez. Jesse was the brother and driving musical influence of now Tejano music legends Joe, Johnny and Rocky Hernandez.
Domingo was at his side when Jesse composed “Ramona” and “The Ugly Bear.” It was during this relationship that he was given the nickname of “Gator,” by the brothers.
In 1958, Gator and Johnny Hernandez went house to house selling the 45’s of “Safari Part I & II,” Joe’s first recording debut as a guitarist, to neighbors and friends.
Radio beginnings In 1959, Castor approached Mr. Gene Smitherman, owner of radio station KMIL, 1330-AM in Cameron, about a job. At first he wasn’t on the air, but Castor was exposed to the radio business and was allowed to do odd jobs at the station while at the same time he was being trained by Smitherman to become a disc jockey.
Finally, the day came that Domingo, or “Sunny,” his on-air disc jockey name, was given his chance. He pioneered the first Spanish speaking radio program in Milam County.
“There was a grave need for Tejano programming. This was before Univision had bought up so many stations and turned them into Norteño stations,” he said. “He gave me an opportunity.”
In 1983, Castor graduated from the Elkens Radio Institute in Dallas, earning his license. And he has been promoting and playing ever since.
Now Castor is proud of his son Roney, who has followed him into the industry and has earned accolades of his own from radio and Tejano music aficionados.
Castor laughs that it was a matter of necessity.
“We were working in Hondo and helping a man who owned four Tejano radio stations in the area,” he said. “We were having a party and everyone brought tamales and plenty of spirits. By noon, I was feeling it!”
Castor said he wasn’t in shape to broadcast, but Roney was, thankfully, nearby.
“I sat him down at the board and showed him what to do,” he said.
Spinning records of the early greats like Beto Villa, Roy Montelongo, the Alfonso Ramos Orchestra and Little Joe and The Latinaires, Castor helped establish the beginnings of what is today known as Tejano music.
Always promoting his culture and heritage while touching the lives of millions of fans, Domingo’s travels have taken him to many radio stations across Texas, California and even Mexico.
“I am so happy to promote my culture and my people,” he said. “It’s been long road, but it is extremely gratifying.”