Keeping the Oldies Alive: DJ Tío Danny hopes to go national with radio show

Daniel Leon, aka Tío Danny, hosts a radio show with oldies at 1 p.m. Sundays on KPYU-FM 100.7 and KPYT-FM 100.3 Yoeme Radio. (Noelle Haro-Gomez/Contributor)

By Karen Schaffner

Tío Danny is like the cool uncle who gives out candy — but for the ears. 

If it’s a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, it must be time for the Tío Danny Oldie Radio Show, something Daniel Leon has been producing for local radio stations since 2019. 

“I play oldies, old blues, doo-wop, classic soul and oldies from Arizona,” Leon says.

“Every show I do I start off with Aretha Franklin. I’ve always loved her music. When she passed away, that tore me up.”

The Tío Danny Oldie Radio Show hits airwaves at 1 p.m. Sundays on KPYU-FM 100.7 and KPYT-FM 100.3 Yoeme Radio. A second show with different music selections is aired at noon Saturdays with replays at noon Tuesdays and Thursdays on KMKR-LP 99.9 FM.

Leon says he’s always wanted to be a DJ, so when KMKR-LP 99.9FM, a radio station at maker studio Xerocraft, put out a call for anyone interested in producing a show, Leon was there. 

He and management agreed that an oldies show was needed. The next step? Learning to use the equipment. That was no easy task.

“That first month I didn’t know what buttons to push; it was a trainwreck,” he says. The person training him, Scott Kerr, would not give up on Leon, so he pushed forward. 

“He was patient with me, and he worked with me,” he adds. “He would always tell me at the end of every show that was a disaster, ‘I believe in your show.’ That’s my motivation for keeping this show going. He believed in me.”

Kerr died in late November 2020.

It takes Leon six to eight hours to pull together the two-hour show, which he records Wednesday nights in his home studio. He keeps playlists in his head, so he doesn’t repeat any music too often. 

Leon has been collecting music since the early 1990s, so his collection is extensive. 

“(I have) about 3,000 hours of oldie music in my personal music collection,” Leon says. “I had quite a large collection of rap music, but I sold it at Zia Records and used the money to buy the oldies music once I decided to take this oldie music/radio show seriously.” 

His collection is cataloged alphabetically and cross-catalogued by artist.

Every week he takes a deep dive into his record and CD collection to find the music that speaks to his soul. Listeners don’t just get doo-wop and classic soul. They hear the stories of the songs and the artists behind them. 

Leon researches his music and knows his stuff. In doing so, Leon is contributing something important to Tucson’s culture.

“There’s something in Tucson, Arizona, about oldies on a Sunday; oldies and Sunday just go together,” says Gabriel Otero, the manager of KPYU-FM and KPYT-FM Yoeme Radio. 

“The knowledge of these songs is not getting passed on. It’s important to have someone who knows these stories and to hear them because that’s how the art stays alive. It’s very much a part of American culture.”

Leon adds, “I’m doing this for the love of the music, just to keep it alive.”

Leon is particularly interested in his home state’s music. 

“When I first started this show three years ago, I was dedicating the last half hour of it to playing music only from Arizona,” Leon says. 

“Then I realized the Arizona music is just as good as anything that was (recorded at) Motown or Stax, so now I just mix it in with everything.”

Despite his extensive collection, Leon is always searching for something new — meaning new to him. One artist he’s found is Celia Marie, a one-time Pueblo High School student.

“All I’ve been able to find is two tracks that she recorded,” Leon says. 

“I have those in my rotation that I spin every so often. Every time I play her music, I put out a call: Anybody who knows anybody else, let me know because I would love to get anybody from Tucson who was recording the music from that time to put on the station.”

He also takes requests from listeners.

Although the show sounds professional and his listeners are happy, Leon says he feels something is missing. He’s not quite sure what.

“I’m pushing for something that hasn’t been done yet on radio,” he says. “I don’t know if I’m doing it already or I still need to figure out what (that is).”

Leon’s hope is to one day have his show go national. 

The Tío Danny Oldie Radio Show

Noon Saturdays with replays at noon Tuesdays and Thursdays on KMKR-LP 99.9 FM

1 p.m. Sundays on KPYU-FM 100.7 and KPYT-FM 100.3 Yoeme Radio

To contact Daniel Leon, visit his Instagram page @tiodannyoldies; call his beeper at 520-320-4981; or email him at