San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Keep Your Eyes Peeled for Radio Show "Pelando El Ojo"

KEEP your eyespeeled and your earsopen for a radioshow called “Pelandoel Ojo” (Peelingthe Eye.) You’rebound to hear it emanatingfrom buses,taxis, cars, shopsand homes betweenthe hours of 5-7p.m., to the delightof commuters andshoppers.This show is so zany that not even theguys who produce it – Norval Calvo,Froilan Bolaños and Enrique Sibaja,known as Pototo – know what’s going tohappen. The whole program is improvised,and preparation begins in the sound cabinof Radio Ritmo 90.7 FM a half hour beforeair time, when the crew flips though thedaily papers and checks headlines, sometimesreading them to each other to stimulatereactions.“There’s always something to satirize,”Bolaños says.Favorite topics are politics, sports,entertainment and religion. The show’s“guest list” includes presidents, ex-presidents,national figures in a variety of fieldsand even long-dead personalities, thanks tothe imitative genius of Calvo and Bolaños,who between them can reproduce about 90voices. Add to this an equal array of soundeffects: chimes, footsteps, doors opening,glass breaking, applause, shouts, sirens andmore. Whatever made yesterday’s news issure to be parodied in today’s program.ONE show had feminist legislatorGloria Valerín passing judgment on piropos(flirtatious comments) called in by listeners;she pronounced that some of themdeserved life in prison while others meritedher phone number.Another had special guests RafaelAngel Calderón and Miguel AngelRodríguez – both ex-Presidents embroiledin corruption scandals – discussing theexecutive wing complete with Jacuzzi inthe proposed prison in Pococí. Calderónhas called from the pay phone at theReforma prison on various occasions.And Father Minor Calvo – the priest ofRadio María fame accused of being theintellectual author of journalist ParmenioMedina’s murder – in prison under preventivecustody, called in to absolve all thecorruptos.Then there were the Oscars, featuringwinning films “Dances with Wolves,” starringformer Costa RicanElectricity Institute (ICE) boardmember José Antonio Lobo(lobo is Spanish for “wolf”),whose allegedly shady financialdealings were revealed by thedaily La Nación, sparking one oflast year’s major corruptionscandals (TT, Oct. 1, 2004); and“All Dogs Go to Heaven,” featuringCamila, the street dogwho was dispatched by a priestfor regularly attending mass inTibás (TT, Feb. 4).Press conferences withPresident Pacheco and leadingTV reporters are a regular part ofthe program. On one occasion,the show was privileged to presentU.S. President George W.Bush, whose Spanish madePacheco’s English sound good.Sometimes the totally unexpectedoccurs, leaving a blank space in the airwaves,such as when Calvo and Bolañosdid imitations of Channel 7’s leading newsteam, Pilar Cisneros and Ignacio Santos –and the real Cisneros and Santos called in.The joke was on the jokesters, and endedwith laughs all around. Or when Mauricio“Chunche” Montero, former soccer playerand now trainer of the soccer team La Liga,whose distinctive voice and manner areoften on the show, called in following adiscourse by the imitation Chunche, leavinglots of doubts: Was it the real Chuncheor an imitation of the imitation?“PELANDO el Ojo” is a call-in showthat invites listeners to comment on thethemes of the day, which may be satiricalor serious and may range from violence at soccer games to miniskirts for baton twirlers.But the foundation of the show’s humor consistsof imitations of recognized personalities. Both Calvoand Bolaños began their careers by doing imitationsof their teachers in high school. At 18, Calvoappeared on “La Dulce Vida,” a humor competitionshow, and won first place for 1988.Bolaños confessed that when he started doingimitations publicly, his family, whom he describes as“serious,” was embarrassed.“Imitating is a talent like all others,” Bolañosclaims. “You have to polish it up, study the characteristicsof the person and try to get the feel of them.”Calvo and Bolaños met while working withParmenio Medina, whose radio program “LaPatada” (The Kick) delved into crimes and misdemeanorsamong prominent white- and Roman-collarpersonalities using a satirical format. Medina wasshot to death in July 2001 while driving home aftertaping a show (TT, July 13, 2001). Although“Pelando el Ojo” resembles “La Patada,” Calvo andBolaños explain that they stick to the surface, makingfun of issues rather than digging in-depth. Theyare not worried about reprisals.After “La Patada,” the two did a morning radiohumor show called “Vacilón de la Mañana” on RadioPuntarenas. Then, two years ago, they teamed up withradio man Loco Pototo (Sibaja) to do “Pelando elOjo,” first as a morning show and now in the evenings.It has gained popularity ever since and is now atop-rated show, according to National Radio Chamberpolls. As verification, all six phone lines into the studioare always lit up, and sponsors are signing up topresent their products during the show’s time slot. Inaddition, the team receives invitations to appear atcivic festivals and on TV shows. They had a supportingrole in musical impersonator Julio Sabala’s showhere, adding a local touch to the Dominican’s rangeby doing their own version of President Pachecowhile the real one was in the audience.The show airs from 5-7 p.m. on Radio Ritmo90.7 FM.

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