I’m sad tonight to learn of the passing of Steve Crosno. He was
someone who gave me a start in the media as a mentor and as a friend.
MY MEMORIES OF MY FRIEND STEVE CROSNO:
I remember the exact night I met Steve Crosno for the first time. It
was in 1975 when my father Jim Myers was a guest on the teleprompter
cable TV Show POTTER IN THE PM from 7 to 10 p.m. Dad was an artist
and his paintings were featured on that show. The old Teleprompter
Cable studios were off Cotton south of I-10 and Cable Channel 3 was the
local originating channel for mostly live studio television. I
remember the place was run by one overworked middle aged man who ran
two cameras, lighting, sound, the techincal directing (switching) and
what limited graphics were available. Watching him run around the
studio like a madman I suggested helping him run the cameras and he
replied, “kid, if you want you can run the who damn place.” He said
the right thing to the right kid.
About 9:30 p.m. in walked Steve Crosno. He had a Friday night teen
call in program from 10 to 12 midnight. He brought in his own
telephone audio system with one of his many assistants back then by the
name of David Reyes. Dad agreed to let me stay and work that show too
and Steve Crosno became my employer, mentor and friend as I entered
into television, radio and nightclub DJ opportunities from that meeting
in the summer of 1975.
Steve talked to kids and most people throughout his life as if they
were one of the most interesting persons he had ever met. It was a
gift of his to make the other person feel important. He did so with
his viewers that night and with me behind the scenes. One of his first
words was to ask me about my life verses brag about his own as was the
case with so many radio and television personalites in those years.
In a way Steve Crosno reminded me a lot of the way Fred Rogers (Mister
Rogers) treated his viewers, cast members, workers behind the scenes
and in long term friendships over his lifetime. Steve Crosno was a
friendly neighbor creating a friendly neighborhood for every one who
got the opportunity to meet and know him.
One of the first things Steve did was to invite me to come down to the
KDBC Saturday Dance show on Channel 4 on Wyoming Street. Back then
the show was on about noon though I was welcome about 9:30 a.m. It
was always special to enter through the employee entrance, say hello to
Bill Blair on the air on KROD AM next door, pass by Howell Eurich’s
office, the film room (news film), the control room where Steve
Putnicki worked master control and directed many of those Dance shows.
Then there was the studio with the news set on one side and the
cyclorama walls, curtains and lighting around the rest of the studio
where Crosno’s crew set up the Disco Speakers, DJ stand and various
One of Crosno’s crew members was Manny who brought in the early DJ
system about 10:30 a.m. – from whatever club he and Crosno had played
the night or weekend before. I remember it was called THE CROSNO
DISCO-TEC-O. It had a little GATES broadcast 5 channel board, two
QRK turntables and mounted on a kitchen top flormica board held up by
Prices Dairy metal milk crates. Steve Crosno built most of his
equipment systems pioneering portable systems when really there were no
such things commerciallty made.
Some of his speakers were old ALTEC LANDSANG – VOICE OF THE THEATER
woffers with heavy horn tweeters on top. Two of them were stored
during the week downstairs in the basement of Channel 4 and I became
responsible for loading them to the old industrial wooden open elevator
up to the studio at ground level. There were so many treasures in
that basement where the Engineers had their shop, where the breakroom
was for the station staff, and the huge storage areas held props and
sets from former news sets, the Bozo Show, and old historic cameras and
Steve usually arrived about 10:45 to 11 ish pulling his Dodge Charger
into the industrial garage door space just outside of the studio. I
remember he had a power inverter to turn DC to AC so he could power his
Home Stereo with home speakers inside the trunk of the car. He also
had cases of Pepsi Cola, his sponsor for decades – and he liberally
shared them with every one of us it seemed.
Steve had his share of Managers and handlers in those days – often
wannabe men who handled the business end of his committments. Sadly,
too many of them took Crosno to the cleaners – his eventual downfall in
his lifetime trusting too many other people with what money he made..
Steve was all about the music and the show but little on the business
end. A lot of personalities had that challenge (then) with agents and
/ or local managers. Steve had a heart of gold and endless patience
with too many of them not always looking after Steve’s best interests.
Some did – most didn’t. And Steve gave to everyone it seemed –
whatever their need…without obligation to pay back.
I was different with him. Several of us were. We appreciated his
friendship and worked tirelessly for him in whatever capacity possible.
I remember him wanting the logs of other radio stations one summer –
written sheets of what the competition played in songs, said on the
air, the advertisers and requests. He was monitoring the competition.
He hired me to do so at $2.00 per 8.5 x 11 page. He was also
surprised a week later when I had compiled some 50 sheets of work on
every station of the market. He asked how I managed to do it? I
remember having Five or Six radios all tuned to the station and
listening to each with the sheet of paper in front of each radio
keeping track of what was played and said. True to form he paid me
$100.00 (gladly) and used the information to program his own shows and
send his manangers out to solicit the advertisers of the other stations
for his program or station.
Many times Steve said I reminded him of his entry into radio with NMSU
in his early years. He taught me how to cue up records, to mix them
on the air, and different styles of microphone technique and
announcing. Not only did I learn audio but I had the opportunity to
watch the shows broadcast live both from the television end (director’s
area in the control room) but from the floor cameras and how Crosno
formatted the flow of his shows – what today I’d call formatting and
stage direction. I also got opportunities to play Crosno type DJ gigs
in early El Paso Discos like the BAHAMA MAMA in Chelsea on Montana and
on XEJPV radio in Juarez one summer in 1975.
After the end of each television show Crosno would produce one to
several television commercials or promos for his television shows and
radio programs. All of them ALWAYS ended with a shaving cream PIE IN
THE FACE. Technically the first commercial I made was my hand with
one of those pies in 1975. Crosno was a master of marketing and like
his shows always making fun of himself in the process.
The local kids would all line up starting at 11 to enter the studio by
11:30 for the 12 noon start time. One of those included a late
twenties to early thirties year old man who I learned was a garbage
collector with the sanitation department. He was sort of the John
Travolta/Tony Manero dancer who danced on the air on all the Crosno
hops. Often with teenage girls. But never anything improper. He
danced on the show and went home afterward back to his own life.
Whatever that was. And true to form it was the place where mostly
hispanic kids had equal footing and the most significant presence on
local television. There were a few black and anglo kids who were
regulars on the show but it was really an outlet for Crosno’s hispanic
fans to ‘be somebody’ on tv in those days. And that was VERY
important. Steve Crosno bridged the gap while helping pioneer
bi-lingual if not hispanic represented radio and later television.
There were other regulars whom Steve befriended or had long time
friendships with who came to the station to be on the air. One of
those was Sylvia. She either represented the BARBIZAN SCHOOL OF
MODELING or modeled clothing from the FACTORY FALLOUT. I once thought
she was Steve’s girlfriend. Most of us knew very little of his
private life and most people respected that privacy.
I later learned of his chosen lifestyle but even so he remained pretty
low under the radar and few publically ever said anything otherwise.
I learned tollerance through Steve not just in this area but also what
it meant to be integrated treating all people with equal respect.
Steve was not only a pioneer of music for the hispanic population but a
bridge builder between all races — something that should be his
lasting legacy. It sure opened doors and opportunities to both
socialize and work with so many talented men and women in El Paso and
later as my carer grew in Odessa, Midland and now Dallas Fort Worth.
I distinctly remember working for KSET Disco 95/AM 1340 in 1979 and
attending a birthday party for Steve at a downtown alternative
lifestyle club. He was very protective of me (and others) not into
that lifestyle but making us feel welcome and safe with his protective
and vocal parameters to others more comfortable in those environments.
He was not only a good friend but in many ways like a fun older
brother – and funny just being himself. He didn’t have to work at it.
He was great at one liner comedic replies to whatever conversation was
going on. He was a genius.
He was also a major local personality and a giver – one of those people
who gave to all and asked nothing in return. Steve was just this
FRIEND to all – and an entertainer in the great comedic style of Jackie
Gleason – something he probably now smiles at from heaven with the
compliment. He was a kind hearted soul and very knowledgable about
some surprising music genres. For example, I often thought of him
with 1970s dance tunes, or Oldies radio from the 1960s…but his love
was for singers and standards of the 1940s and 1950s. Vocalists like
Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Rosemary Clooney. I remember when my
father was struck by a neuromuscular disease and I was assisting my
parents through those difficult times in home health care, Steve would
call from Las Cruces and (via direct TV) we’d play ‘name that tune’ on
the 40s, 50’s, 60’s and 1970’s audio music channels. And he was comic
relief after naming the tune reminding me to laugh at life through the
I remember Steve in the 1970s also giving a spotlight for a blind woman
who used to come on the air and sing songs on television. She’d come
in with her seeing eye dog as Steve would have some on screen
interaction with her and she’d do a number. Some have written she
only did lip synching – but I remember her actually singing with the
live microphone Steve himself used. Only Manny might know for certain
if she did so live or lip synched. But I remember her as a nice
person Steve cared a great deal for – as he did for many people. It
was never a joke to have her on the air – but rather a type of fame and
joy he loved giving her. And the kids, the studio guests, all gave her
cheering applause. Steve inspired respect of people as he gave so
much respect to them…and a few moments of fame to all who came on the
Crosno was also BRILLIANT as a top-40 talking on-air personality –
pioneering if not enhancing the ‘on air bit radio’ of the 1960s and
1970s. Others pioneered the format about the same time rangng from
powerhouse AM stations nationwide. Bob Crane in LA was someone Steve
emuulated by taking sound effects and making on-air ‘bits’ or ‘skits’
to bring comedy to his shows. Only a few knew he had hours and hours
of the old HONEYMOONER’S programs recorded on open reel audio tape.
In fact, many classic television bits, sound bites or sound effects
were used by Steve in his radio prograrms.
Some wondered who were those kids (children) who did some of the set up
punch line gags for Crosno’s shows. They were family and friends kids
he once shared with me in the mid 1990s. Most of his programs too
were recorded in advance from his studio up in Old Mesilla (New Mexico)
and replayed on the air (in the 1970s) at a wide range of radio
stations in El Paso and sometimes in Juarez, Mexico. But they ALL
sounded live. He was a master at planning and even keeping them
current sounding with local insert cart deck tapes for the days of the
week, time of day, or events that were taking place. Some would air
while he took time off to travel to the Gila wilderness or other area
vacations. Yet he always sounded like he was in some station live on
the air – and often the phone calls for requests went right to his
studio in Las Cruces.
He was also a pioneer – though one who never really capitalized (or
benefited financially) from those ideas. One of those areas included
playing music videos LONG BEFORE there was the hint of an MTV. In
fact, one of his early entrances into television came with a show
called TV-DJ, in which Crosno had cameras in his recording studio where
he recorded his radio programs – only with shots of him doing his show.
I WISH there were tape out there of those shows – available to
preserve for history. The same for his radio programs from the
1970s. If any have them on audio or video tape I’d love to have them
to produce some type of documentary on him at some point in the future.
I can be contacted at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Several (over time) tried to produce documentaries on Steve Crosno –
but for one reason or another funding (or interest) just didn’t follow
through. Some were people Steve helped get thir start in the business
– some today in New York, others in LA, Chicago or right here as I am
in Dallas-Fort Worth.
Steve had some good years in El Paso and some rough ones too. Well, a
lot of them were rough. Seems like station owners or program directors
regularly hired him to boost ratings but eventually stole his ideas or
programming style and fired him in the process. Sadly too several of
those he helped enter the business turned back and back stabbed him in
return to steal his time slots or program director positions. The names
are not important today but it was the beginning of the end of Crosno’s
TOP career and earning capacity. He went on to struggle in the mid to
late 1990s and into the 2000s. I wish I could have given him more
assistance then and in the past few years.
There are some names of those who tried to help Steve that should be
made known. One of the top helpers was Stu Kellogg in El Paso. In the
mid to late 1990s he and several others helped Steve to market his
shows on stations around the country in syndication. Stu assembled
several sales people from radio and television who tried to help set up
a profitable structure for Steve to survive.
Others collected funds to help him keep his home when near eviction and
still others collected funds to help with ongoing health challenges.
Another thank you should go to Jackson Polk of Capstone Productions who
arranged and filmed Steve as the grand marshall of a parade in his
honor in 2000 or 2001. He rode in an classic low rider down Mesa
Street and around the downtown streets during a historical festival.
That was the last time I saw him before I relocated to Dallas Fort
Worth from my home in El Paso. I sure know he was HAPPY that day and
always optimistic that his career would turn around at any moment. He
had an optimistic spark of him that never left in the years I was in
contact with him.
We stayed in contact by e-mail up until his heath began to really fail
in the early 2000s. We talked by phone several times too. But in
the past two years we lost touch. He didn’t often answer e-mail and it
was hard to reach him. I sure tried to stay in contact. But I knew
he was in pain too.
I kept up with updates from those who did see or talk to him. Tonight
it was long time media pioneer Dan Rarick of IN TOUCH COMMUNICATIONS
who shared the sad news of Steve’s passing. I wish I could be there
for his funeral – though I’m more comforted knowing I was there as a
friend for him throughout his life and more importantly after his fame
had waned. Like many (I suspect) I wish I would have had the resources
to do more. I still have one of his marketing packages for the show
CRUSIN’ WITH CROSNO that I tried to market in this area and for a large
national fast food company. Just in the past few months I had some
surplus funds I thought I’d send some technology that would allow him
to take his shows at least for local airing – but now am sad he’s gone.
Its irnoic too – XM radio has a 60s station that could have really
benefited from someone like Steve Crosno. That medium is just now
starting to bring back classic jocks from the golden age of top 40
radio. Though Steve was on a local Las Cruces station and had a
syndicated show in other markets he could have been right in his
element with Satellite radio today – and its really OUR loss. On the
weekends I still hear remixes of WOLFMAN JACK’s shows on XM and thought
often how CROSNO should be on it too. I hope his family will be able
to take all his recorded materials and get it into the hands of a
library ‘worthy’ of cataloging and preserving its vast historical
I have so many other Crosno memories…like a research graduate paper I
started towards my thesis in 1995 on the history of XELO/XEROK 800 Am.
I interviewed Steve for several hours in what were the last months of
his home in the Sunset Inn on Mesa Street. Few knew Steve was a big
fan and collector of 1970s television – like THE ROCKFORD FILES with
James Garner. He had probably hundreds to thousands of hours of
classic television programs he recorded and dubbed taking out the
commercials. And his knoweldge of El Paso media was extensive. I
still have those tapes at least and the transcriptions of those
conversations. How I wish I had then had the equipment of my studio
today to have those interviews on digital video and be able to preserve
them at least as oral history…let alone a documentary.
Few may know that Steve had a deep philosophical and Christian
spiritual side. We talked at length on those subjects then in 1995
right up to when we lost contact with each (regularly) other in 2002.
Though separated in age by some 20 years we were brothers in a sense of
media, love for radio, music, broadcast equipment, philosophy, and
Christianity. He was very smart and philosophically as well as
We had similar backgrounds of childhood years including being bullied
and abused by other people. Christian author Frank Peretti shares a
similar story in his only non-fiction book THE WOUNDED SPIRIT sharing
what Steve, myself and others managed to learn from and grow past the
wounds to try to make a positive difference in other’s lives.
And amazing too just this morning reading about Mister (Fred) Rogers in
the Fort Worth Star Telegram made me think about Steve Crosno and my
long time corresponding friendship with him. He was a good mentor,
encourager, and kind soul. The same can be said of Fred Rogers and
two journalists who have books out on their long time friendships
including: THE SIMIPLE FAITH OF MISTER ROGERS by Amy Hollingsworth and
I AM PROUD OF YOU: A FRIENDSHIP WITH FRED ROGERS by Tim Madigan. If I
have any regrets its not being in the same leagues with these writers
to write something lasting on Steve Crosno. Maybe this posting will
have some life here on the internet.
What is interesting is that when I’ve read books about those who met
and knew Fred Rogers I realize I had a similar friendship with years of
encouragement from Steve Crosno. And I have a peaceful comfort
tonight knowing I was able to bless my friend Steve from our years of
correspondence, visits and calls. I hope something here encourages
whoever reads it that each of us (like Steve Crosno) has the capacity
to help or encourage someone else that comes into our lives/worlds –
and needs the extra investment of encouragement. I know I did and was
grateful Steve gave so much to me.
In find it rather ironic that both Fred Rogers and Steve Crosno passed
after battles with Cancer. Though I don’t know the details I hope Steve
was surrounded with his family and at least was able to pass this life
from his home verses a hospital. I hope he knew at the end of his
life just how many lives he touched, encouraged, molded, and changed.
I know because I am one of them.
In memory of Steve Crosno
Steve Myers Productions
August 7, 2006