Beyond the Dial: Meet DJ El

Posted on November 18, 2021


With over 40 volunteer DJs from diverse backgrounds, you have an amazing music buffet of options to sample. Often musicians themselves, our DJs have traveled fascinating musical journeys and are passionate about sharing the music and artists they love.

This month, our featured DJ is DJ El. His show, DJ El and the Killer B’s airs every other Saturday night from 8 to midnight. Enchantingly rhythmic, DJ El’s offerings run the gambit, from American Jazz, Blues and Bluegrass to Latin and global influences. And don’t forget “everything inBetween!” He always has surprising new or unexpected treasures to share. When listening to DJ El, it’s virtually impossible not to move, sway or dance  . . . it just happens! And what a delight it is! Saturday night is the perfect time to enjoy DJ El and his Killer B’s!

Don’t forget, you can always catch the show later or have a second helping by visiting The DJ El Show page and selecting an archived show! Now, let’s get to know a little more about DJ El!

How did you get started at Mana’o Radio? Why did you want to be a DJ on this station?

“As a jazz lover and former Manhattanite, I decided to donate to my favorite local jazz station ( during their pledge week back in 2003. The donation enabled me to guest host an hour at the station’s HQ in Newark, N.J. on the Latin Jazz Cruise show with Awilda Rivera. I put a set list together, and spun my favorite Latin Jazz, Bossa Nova, and Salsa tunes (I’m a seasoned salsa dancer and teacher). I had so much fun doing the show that when I moved to Maui in 2018, I decided that as someone with an eclectic taste and a broad knowledge of music (I’m also a multi-instrumentalist), I had something special to share with Maui listeners. I then contacted Mana’o Radio to see if I could join the team, and within a few months I began my DJ career at Mana’o Radio as a substitute DJ.”

Describe your show — what type of music do you play, what’s the vibe? What should the listener expect?

“My show is grounded in American Roots music, Jazz, Blues and Bluegrass; and extends to Latin and World Beat as well. There’s a good chance that you might hear Howling Wolf, Tito Puente, Lee Morgan, Gilberto Gil, Fela Kuti and Bill Monroe on my show. That is precisely why I named the show, DJ El and the Killer B’s, the killer B’s are Blues, Bebop, Bluegrass, Bossa Nova, Brazilian, Boogaloo, and everything in Between.”

What’s your philosophy about music; why does it matter in our lives?

“If you have a beating heart, you vibrate, you have rhythm. The rhythm and vibration of the heart is enhanced by the flow, shape, and color of music. It soothes, it eases, it excites, it encompasses our full range of emotions. It is us, and it represents humanity. It is essential. And if you can hear it “live”, it can be sublime. This is why, with restrictions on live music due to the pandemic, having a broad range music to listen to here on Mana’o Radio keeps us mentally healthy, and spiritually connects us.” 

Why is independent, commercial-free radio important?

“For as long as I can remember, I always listened to commercial-free public radio. Growing up in NYC, the home of so many great commercial-free stations, I’ve come to expect, and at times, take public radio for granted. I would have a difficult life without this amazing resource. To me, the blare and glare of commercials is unnerving, and destroys the flow of the mostly insipid music you hear on commercial radio. Mana’o Radio and other commercial-free radio stations are safe havens for my ears. We need to keep Mana’o Radio and public radio alive and fully funded!”

At Mana’o Radio, DJs are able to play whatever music they choose; there’s complete freedom with no commercials. How do you think that affects the quality of the music played at Mana’o Radio compared to other stations?

“In the case of my radio show, it means that I get to play any music from any country or era simply because it is superb. I don’t think DJs at most stations play music because they think it is a cut above the rest. I think they play it because they are told to. We are all allowed to cultivate our own tastes and our own production at Mana’o Radio.  It makes for dynamic programming with something for everyone.”

Where do you find your music? What inspires you as you create your shows?

“I get my music from Request Music at 10 N. Market Street in Wailuku. Right down the street from the Mana’o Radio studio.”

Why is independent, commercial-free radio important?

“For the same reasons that independent people, opinions, and tastes have always been important. Homogenized music and culture is temporary and tasteless. Depth comes from perspective. Each show on Mana‘o Radio comes from someone with a unique and independent perspective on music.”

Check out “DJ El and the Killer “Bs” Sample Playlist below.  You can replay his archived shows on demand here. It’s no wonder he’s a Mana’o Radio favorite!

The DJ El Show Playlist

Willy Calderon & The L.A. Impromptu Orchestra – Mr. Magic
Jeff Lorber Fusion – Hyperdrive
Nina Simone – Come on Back, Jack
Little Walter and His Jukes – My Babe
Danny Gatton – Harlem Nocturne
Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble – Lenny
Jerry Gonzalez – Bye-Ya
Orchestra Baobab, Guajira Ven – Guajira Ven
Gary Burton – Invierno Porteno
Sara Tavares – Balancê

This is a partial listing of a recent DJ El Show. For the complete playlist, KMNO’s complete playlist archives are available at Spinitron.

Follow DJ El here on Facebook. You can listen to The DJ El Show or replay it any time with our Listen On Demand feature.