Beloved Spanish-language radio host dies after getting COVID-19

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Octavio Reyes was a radio DJ with an unmistakable voice.

He was a fixture on West Michigan Spanish-language radio for 20 years.

“You can walk to any Hispanic person and ask who Octavio Reyes is and they’re going to recognize him real well,” Efrain Cano, a DJ at 93.3 FM La Poderosa, said.

The Guadalajara, Mexico, native attracted a big following with his voice and personality.

“If he saw you being down, it was like boom, his mission: ‘Let me distract you, let me entertain you,'” Claudia Reyes, Octavio’s wife, said.

Claudia Reyes remembers her husband Octavio Reyes, who died after contracting COVID-19. (Dec. 31, 2020)

In addition to radio, he enjoyed entertaining audiences as a host at charitable events and concerts. One of his most prized opportunities came at Fifth Third Ballpark, where he got to emcee Whitecaps games on nights honoring Hispanic heritage.

“It was fantastic. He enjoyed it,” Manuel Medina, one of Reyes’ former colleagues at La Poderosa, said.

Reyes passed on his love for radio on to his son.

“I worked with him,” Gael Reyes said. “The last project was the microphone” for his online program.

The microphone for Octavio Reyes’ online radio show. (Dec. 31, 20209)

Reyes recently took his talents to online radio, hoping to expand his audience.

Then his whole family contracted COVID-19. His wife and kids overcame the disease, but Reyes ended up in the hospital. The man with the booming voice died less than two weeks later.

“Octavio’s last message was (that) this is real,” his wife said. “You don’t know how bad it’s going to get. Don’t take any chances, don’t risk it.”

A funeral service will be held on Monday at the Shrine of St. Francis Xavier & Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Grand Rapids. Reyes’ family has set up a GoFundMe account to help pay for expenses.

A memorial to Spanish-language radio host Octavio Reyes. (Dec. 31, 2020)

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