Tucson businessman, Spanish-language pioneer in radio, TV dies | Local news

Oscar Humberto Stevens Sr., an international import and export businessman and a pioneer of Spanish-language radio and television programs in Arizona and Northern Mexico, died June 8 at home. He was 90.

“He died peacefully surrounded by his family,” said son Humberto N. Stevens, of the family patriarch who married Aurora Varela 55 years ago. The couple raised six children and had 12 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.






Oscar and Aurora Stevens with their children in Nogales, Sonora, for the National Radio Broadcasters of Mexico Awards in April 2011.


Courtesy Stevens Family


“My father was always bigger than life to me,” he said. “An energetic and cheerful man who greeted all and lit up most any room where he stood. An entrepreneur, a public figure and community leader, but foremost a loving son, husband and father. He held me in his arms with joy, to shelter me, and in his final days to say for the last time that he loved me. ”

Stevens was born Jan. 28, 1932, in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico, and his parents moved the family to Ciudad Juárez where as a teenager Stevens learned about radio production from his uncle Trini Ríos, a well-known radio personality.

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Stevens studied in El Paso, attending Cathedral High School, becoming a naturalized citizen, and after he graduated in 1950, he joined the Air Force, serving for three years. He was assigned to the B-47 StratoJet Bomber Squadron and was eventually assigned to the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in 1952.

When he was not on duty at the base, Stevens worked as a program director and radio announcer on KEVT-AM, the first Spanish-language radio station in Tucson. Listeners were attracted to his voice, and the audience grew as Stevens played mariachi, classical ranchera, boleros and norteño music.






Oscar Humberto Stevens Sr., left, representing KXEW as founder / co-owner and station manager, with Mario Moreno, aka Cantinflas.


Courtesy Stevens Family


In 1963, he was co-owner and station general manager of Radiofiesta KXEW-AM, and was known for his strong support of local charities, helping families in need and announcing community events of Tucson and Southern Arizona.

Daughter Arlette Stevens Castaño recalled heartwarming memories, including when her dad “got home from work after a long day, he was always content and attentive to us as a family. He loved to play music from different groups or singers, particularly in Spanish, and some Big Band type songs in English. Thanks to him, and of course my mom as well, I have learned about the various genres of music in Spanish from romantic songs, such as boleros, to the more upbeat songs, and knowing the titles of songs and the names of the singers. ”

He also opened his first local furniture store, Stevens Home Furnishings, in 1956 in downtown, and a few years later opened El Gigante Furniture in Nogales, Arizona. He began exporting electrical and home appliances to Mexico as a distributor of major companies, and importing Mexican art and curios. Stevens also worked as a general manager at Flash TV furniture and appliance store for decades.






Oscar Stevens at his furniture and appliance store, El Gigante Furniture, in Nogales, Ariz., In 1965.


Courtesy Stevens Family


Stevens’ interest in television led him to invest and become executive producer at TV station KZAZ Channel 11 (now Fox affiliate KMSB), and he began a community program, “Desde la Frontera” (From the Border), which aired live during the week from studios in Nogales, Arizona. He and his wife, Aurora, also launched the television program “Telefiesta Mexicana,” which was televised live Sundays from the Tucson studios to Spanish-speaking viewers in Southern Arizona and Northern Mexico. The program aired between the mid-1960s to the early 1980s.

Stevens’ love for music also led him to become a concert promoter, and for years he promoted stars performing locally such as Louie Armstrong, Antonio Aguilar, Agustín Lara, Pedro Infante, María Félix and Alejandro Fernández.

Stevens continued working at the family-owned Stevens Productions company until 2010. The company was founded in 1956.

Stevens son, Humberto N. Stevens, remembered his father as “a thoughtful person, but also a firm and ethical man who advised when I asked, and corrected me when needed. I was privileged to witness his unquenchable love for my mother, Aurora, his ‘Vida’ (life) as he often called her. His passion for music, song and verse of every kind often filled our home and hearts daily. Though he is gone now, the joy my father found in music will continue in my life with the anticipation of joining him someday for a song. ”






Oscar and Aurora Stevens announcing performers at the Mexican Superstars Music Festival / Dance at the Tucson Convention Center Arena in the 1980s.


Courtesy Stevens Family


In addition to his wife Aurora, son of Humberto N. Stevens and daughter Arlette Stevens Castaño, the elder Stevens is survived by sons Oscar H. Stevens II and Ramses D. Stevens, and daughters Kim Stevens-Romero and Christianne Stevens-Acosta.

A Mass will be held at 9:45 am Thursday, June 23, at St. Augustine Cathedral, 192 S. Stone Ave. The public is welcome to a reception and tribute to Stevens’ life at the Ginny Clements Ballroom in Cathedral Square, adjacent to the church.

Contact reporter Carmen Duarte at [email protected] or on Twitter: @cduartestar

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