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Sonoro and Futuro Studios introduce “Ídolo: The Ballad of Chalino Sánchez,” an 8-episode podcast that examines the extraordinary life of the Mexican singer-songwriter and attempts to unravel the mystery of his unsolved murder. Hosted by Erick Galindo in English and Alejandro Mendoza in Spanish.
Narcocorrido superstar Chalino Sánchez sings to a sold-out crowd for the first time in Sinaloa. It’s the best night of his career until someone hands him a note. His face turns pale and his smile slowly disappears. That night, after the show, Chalino will be executed. But who killed him and why? We begin a journey to understand Chalino’s life and impact, and the theories behind his unsolved murder.
Chalino Sánchez canta sobre el escenario “Alma enamorada” y el público sinaloense canta con él. Es la mejor noche de su carrera hasta que alguien le entrega una nota. Su rostro cambia: está pálido y su sonrisa desaparece. Esa noche, después del show, Chalino será ejecutado. A través de su último concierto, conoceremos quién fue este cantante que se convertiría en el rey del corrido. Y comenzaremos un recorrido para entender por qué su asesinato sigue siendo un misterio sin resolver.
Chalino grew up surrounded by violence in a humble town in Sinaloa. But his life takes a turn for the worse when a group of men attacks his sister. That day, he promises to avenge her. Years later, when he is given his first pistol, Chalino is believed to have stalked one of the attackers at a party. This event gives rise to the first theory about who could have killed Chalino.
Chalino creció rodeado de violencia en un humilde pueblo en Sinaloa. Pero su vida cambia cuando un grupo de hombres agreden a su hermana. Desde ese día promete vengarla. Y lo hará años después, cuando le regalan su primera pistola y acecha a uno de los atacantes en una fiesta de XV años. Este evento da pie a la primera teoría sobre quién podría ser el asesino de Chalino y las razones para ejecutarlo varios años después de esta fiesta.
Chalino and his brother flee to the United States after the party in which he stalks his sister’s attackers. When Chalino arrives in California, he meets a local drug lord with two prosthetic arms and an obsession with old mafia movies. In this episode, we explore a love triangle theory that involves Chalino, a mob boss and his girlfriend, and we’ll delve deep on the role of “chisme,” or gossip, in the Chalino story.
Chalino y su hermano huyen hacia los Estados Unidos después de los XV años. En California, ambos realizan varios trabajos, algunos de ellos fuera de la ley. También ahí es donde Chalino conoce a un narcotraficante local obsesionado con Don Corleone y con dos brazos prostéticos. En este episodio exploraremos una teoría que afirma que a Chalino lo mataron por amor.
Chalino returns to Mexico and ends up in a Tijuana prison. But being behind bars leads him to discover his talent as a songwriter, and in prison he begins writing songs for local outlaws. After he is released, Chalino returns to the United States to record his first cassettes. He begins selling his music and gains popularity among Mexicans in Southern California. In this episode’s theory, we ask—could Chalino have angered the wrong narco with one of his songs?
Chalino termina en una cárcel de Tijuana. Pero contrario a lo que se podría creer, estar tras las rejas lo hizo descubrir su talento como compositor de narcocorridos. Meses después es liberado y regresa a los Estados Unidos para grabar sus primeros cassettes. Él mismo los vendía y poco a poco comenzó a ganar popularidad entre sus paisanos. Y de acuerdo a la teoría de este episodio, muchos creen que alguno de los narcocorridos que escribió fue la razón por la que su vida terminó con dos balas en el cuerpo.
In a story that seems straight out of a movie, Chalino gets into a wild west-style shootout in the middle of his own concert in California’s Coachella Valley. The confrontation ends with one person dead, the attacker arrested, multiple concert-goers injured and Chalino wounded by two bullets. Instantly, rumors swirl that the attacker was a cartel hitman hired to end Chalino’s life. But was he?
Existen muchos rumores sobre la vida recia de Chalino, pero hay uno que está comprobado en su totalidad: la balacera en Coachella. Aunque parece el guión de una película, Chalino se agarra a balazos durante un concierto en el Valle de Coachella. El enfrentamiento termina con el atacante detenido y con Chalino herido por dos balas. Esta teoría dice que, meses después, un sicario regresó a terminar el trabajo que comenzó en este show.
Chalino survives the Coachella shooting and his fame grows rapidly in northern Mexico and in the United States. For many, the shooting was proof that Chalino wasn’t just a guy who sings about drug traffickers, but a badass outlaw himself. However, fame is a dangerous thing when your head has a price. In this episode, we explore the delicate relationship between corridos and organized crime.
Chalino sobrevive el tiroteo y su fama crece rápidamente en el norte de México y en Estados Unidos. Para muchos este evento confirmaba los rumores sobre su vida recia y pasa de ser visto como un tipo que canta sobre narcos, a un narco que canta. Pero la fama no es tan buena compañera cuando parece que tu cabeza tiene precio. En este episodio exploraremos la peligrosa relación que tiene el corrido con el crimen organizado y cómo Chalino trató de equilibrar las múltiples facetas de su vida.
With a new record deal in hand, Chalino is invited to play a few shows in Culiacán, Sinaloa. He’s warned not to go because it’s a trap. But Chalino doesn’t pass up the chance to cash out and sing in his native land. In this episode, an in-depth look at Chalino’s final moments. Plus, we explore a final theory about who orchestrated Chalino’s murder and decipher a mysterious song that supposedly identifies the man responsible.
Con un contrato discográfico bajo la mano, Chalino es invitado a dar un show en Culiacán, Sinaloa. Algunos rumoraban que lo habían amenazado con no volver a pisar el estado después de un crimen que cometió. Sin embargo, Chalino no deja pasar los miles de dólares que le ofrecen por cantar en su tierra. En este episodio exploraremos una teoría basada en una canción compuesta años después de la muerte de Chalino y que revela el supuesto nombre y apellido del hombre que lo mató.
In the last episode of the season, we explore Chalino’s legacy 30 years after his death. His music revolutionized the corrido genre and gave Mexican-Americans an icon of their own. But it also forever changed the relationship between the artists who perform narcocorridos and organized crime and, some argue, paved the way for the normalization of violence and the narco-cultura we see in Mexico today. Ultimately, we reflect on how a humble kid from Sinaloa became an international idol.
En el último episodio de la temporada explicaremos cuál es el verdadero legado de Chalino. Su música revolucionó un género musical que apenas comenzaba. Pero también cambió para siempre la relación entre los artistas que interpretan narcocorridos y el crimen organizado que es inspiración, y mecenas, del género. Al final, entenderemos cómo fue que un niño humilde de Sinaloa se convirtió en un ídolo.
Imagine if Frank Sinatra went on stage every night with a gun in his waistband. Or if Tupac got into a shootout on stage at a rodeo. Well, Chalino Sánchez did just that. In this podcast, we examine the extraordinary life of the “King of Corridos,” and attempt to unravel the mystery of his death. Chalino’s story, his own narcocorrido, is the ultimate ride through the drug cartel world, the underbelly of the Mexican-American music industry and a murder mystery for the ages.
Erick Galindo is a five-time Telly Award-winning writer, director, and producer originally from Compton. He is the creator of “Ídolo: The Balad of Chalino Sánchez.” He also hosts and is the head writer for the hit immersive storytelling podcast WILD for LAist Studios and the co-creator and executive producer of the Mexican Beverly Hills for CBS. He has written essays on life and culture for The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and LAist. He was the first managing editor of L.A. Taco, where his work won a James Beard Foundation award. Along with his business partner Patty Rodriguez, Erick recently launched Sin Miedo Productions, to write and produce Latinx Stories in podcasts, TV and film.
Alejandro Mendoza is a Mexican journalist and musician. He was editor in chief of V66, a blog for Vans and editor in chief of VICE en Español, where he worked among journalists from United States, Mexico, and South America. He hosted the documentary series “Miscelánea mexicana,” as well as stories for VICE News and the series “La Guía VICE para las elecciones.” Currently, he is a freelance journalist.
Marlon Bishop is a Peabody Award-winning radio producer and journalist with a focus on Latin America, immigration, identity and society, music and the arts. He got his start in radio producing long-form documentaries on Latin music history for the public radio program Afropop Worldwide. After a stint reporting for the culture desk at New York Public Radio, Marlon spent several years writing for MTV Iggy, MTV”s portal for global music and pop culture. Marlon’s radio pieces and writing have appeared in NPR, Studio 360, The World, The Fader, Billboard, and Fusion, among other outlets. In 2015 he won a Peabody Award for his investigative reporting on gang violence and migration in Honduras.
Jasmine Romero is an award-winning audio producer. Most notably, her work with Chompers won a Cannes Lion, and a Clio. Fiction work includes writing and directing “Princess of South Beach,” and story editing for “Tejana” and “Toxicomania,” and lead producing “Motherhacker” and “The Story Pirates Podcast.” Non fiction works include “The Habitat,” “Mogul,” “The Cut on Tuesdays” and “We Came to Win.” She is the head of development for Sonoro Media.
Rodrigo Crespo is an editor at Sonoro. His previous work includes “La Estafa Maestra,” an investigative report that won the 2018 National Journalism Award and a finalist in the 2018 Gabo Award. He also made an audiovisual miniseries that was part of the investigative report “Killing in Mexico: Guaranteed Impunity,” 2018 WJP Anthony Lewis Award Investigation for Outstanding Journalism in the Rule of Law.
Carmen Graterol is the Managing Senior Producer at Sonoro Media. They develop narrative nonfiction podcasts and oversee a team of badass producers, engineers, and writers in both English and Spanish. Before joining Sonoro, Carmen produced podcasts for various international outlets, including Vice and Spotify. In another lifetime photography was their passion but the intimacy of audio documentaries stole their heart. Originally from Caracas, Venezuela, they are a nomad at heart but currently call Mexico City home.
Juan Diego Ramirez is a multimedia producer and journalist based in New York. He co-produces and co-hosts Racist Sandwich, a James Beard Foundation nominated podcast on food, class, race, and gender across the globe. As an undocumented immigrant for over 20 years, Juan Diego decided to focus his works on communities that reflect him. When he was granted DACA he was able to intern for Oregon Public Broadcasting as a production assistant for OPB’s State of Wonder and OPB’s Weekend Edition. He attends Baruch College where he is working towards a journalism degree. Juan Diego is an avid skateboarder and political junky. You can find some of Juan Diego‘s work on Latino Rebels.
Lili Ruiz is a freelance writer and everlasting positive thinker based out of Chicago. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Women’s and Gender Studies from DePaul University, and has worked in a variety of professional backgrounds such as finance and education. Lili co-produced her first radio story “From Chicago to Oaxaca” with Latino USA in 2020. She is also a nationally ranked powerlifter. Lili is inspired to continue to flex her producer muscles with Futuro Studios and beyond.