An Interview With . . .Arts & EntertainmentFeaturesFront Page A&EMusic

An Interview with Easton Santos

Meet the creator of Houston’s first independently owned and operated LGBTQ online station.

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Easton Santos (center) next to OUT & PROUD LIVE’s Ryan Swenson and Chris Triezenberg (photo by Frank Hernandez).

When and how did the idea for OUT & PROUD LIVE come about?
After living in Houston for a few years, I noticed the lack of broadcast and entertainment media for our community. [That’s when the] idea for an independent, local, involved radio station, app, and all-around interactive platform was born! But what to call it? After weeks of brainstorming, we came up with OUT & PROUD LIVE (OPL). Because we wanted to involve the community in more than just a jukebox of great music, the concept is to unite our community through live entertainment and events, as well. With the launch of
specialty shows, community events, special fundraising events, and more, [it will be] so much more than just a radio station. We want it to be where the community goes for fun, education, music—and the best parties, of course!

What has the response been like?
Overwhelming, to be quite honest. We weren’t sure how it would be received. I’d like to say I try not to ever underestimate the community here, but I definitely did this time!  As our first event was about to start at Ripcord (one of our partner clubs), my business partner and best friend, Christopher Triezenberg, and I stood with Ryan Allen (Ripcord’s GM) patiently waiting. (OK, me not so patiently waiting!) We’d already seen great numbers and app downloads, but I know that doesn’t [always] translate to listeners coming out to support the station/platform. As the event’s start time rolled around, more and more people walked through the door. By 10:45 p.m., there was a line around the building with people waiting to get inside. We were, in a sense, sold out. People not only from Houston, but also from Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio came to show love and have a great time. Ever since then, we’ve taken things a little more seriously after realizing the impact that this is having. After that event, we were happy to welcome our third partner to the business, Ryan Swenson. With the team we have now, the sky is the limit.

Tell us about the programming.
We have a wide variety of programming and content, from Top 40 and dance to talk shows like That Lil’ Gay Talk Show with Joel Tatum. We were very proud to be a part of Wendy Taylor and ReBar’s Raise the Bar competition this year. The grand-prize winner will get heavy airplay on the station. That leads me to our local talent. We pride ourselves on including local talent in our programming. You’ll hear many local artists and DJs all the time, on both stations. Some of our DJs, other than myself, include the amazing DJ Aracely, appearances by DJ Melle Mel, DJ Brad Turney, DJ Hustle Cry, DJ JD3, and more. There is really something for everyone.

What is your favorite type of music?
I’m blessed to have a giant span of music tastes, but if I absolutely had to pick only one genre to listen to on a deserted island for the rest of my life? Yacht Rock. Yeah, I know, don’t laugh at me too hard! With the high-energy club bangers that the station and I play, it’s nice to relax to some Michael McDonald now and then. My favorite artist is my friend Walt Wilkins. If you don’t know him, and you like “feel good about life” music, look him up. I have the lyrics of his song “I Chose This Road” literally tattooed on my arm.

How can people listen to OUT & PROUD LIVE?
OPL and the new OPL: Country (America’s first-ever LGBTQ+ country station) can be accessed from almost any smart device, including iOS, Android, Apple TV, Amazon Alexa, Apple Watch, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay—the list goes on. To use the old saying, “There’s an app for that!”

Learn more about OUT & PROUD LIVE at outandproudlive.com.

This article appears in the August 2021 edition of OutSmart magazine.

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Marene Gustin

Marene Gustin has written about Texas culture, food, fashion, the arts, and Lone Star politics and crime for television, magazines, the web and newspapers nationwide, and worked in Houston politics for six years. Her freelance work has appeared in the Austin Chronicle, Austin-American Statesman, Houston Chronicle, Houston Press, Texas Monthly, Dance International, Dance Magazine, the Advocate, Prime Living, InTown magazine, OutSmart magazine and web sites CultureMap Houston and Austin, Eater Houston and Gayot.com, among others.
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