Manuel Davila, Sr.

Manuel Davila, Sr. was one of the early pioneers of Spanish language radio and the Tejano format in the United States. Spanish-language broadcasting began in the early days of commercial radio, but only as a part-time service not as full-time radio stations. Davila would help change that forever.

He was born in San Antonio in 1913 and became involved in radio as a teenager. In 1928 there were no Spanish language stations in San Antonio, so Manuel and his brother, José, began broadcasting in Spanish by buying one-hour slots on English-language stations. They quickly found bias against Mexican-American broadcasters not only from Anglos, but also from Hispanics who believed that one should be from Mexico in order to broadcast in Spanish.

Manuel Davila continued to work in San Antonio radio until 1961, when he decided to buy his own station. In 1966, he began broadcasting Tex-Mex music on KEDA, nicknamed "Radio Jalapeño", the first Tejano music station in the country.

About his career path Davila said, "All I ever wanted to do was play country music in Spanish. I had to show everybody that a Mexican-American could run a station successfully playing Mexican-American music." Davila created the "Jalapeño Network" by adding three Spanish stations in Corpus Christi …Spanish Christian, classic rock, and international Spanish music.

After his death in 1997, Davila’s widow continued to operate KEDA into 2011 when the station was sold to Claro Communications. At that time, KEDA was the longest-running and last remaining, family-owned, independent radio station in San Antonio.

After his death, Manuel Davila began to receive recognition for his contributions to San Antonio radio and his role in starting Spanish-language Tejano radio. He was inducted into the Conjunto Music Hall of Fame in 1997, the Tejano Roots Hall of Fame in 2008, and the Texas Conjunto Hall of Fame in 2015. In 1998 he was honored with a Radio Pioneer Award from Pura Vida Music Awards.