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Radio Host Mario Villalobos, 78, Shared Love Of Life With Listeners

By Vanessa Vázquez Yuret | Sentinel Staff Writer

February 5, 2005
Copyright © 2005 ORLANDO SENTINEL. All rights reserved. 

His passion for life shined every day, but was especially felt in his Saturday afternoon radio show, Discoteca en Su Hogar.

Mario "Michelín" Villalobos, also known as El Lobo Féliz, or Happy Wolf, died after a car accident Wednesday. He was 78.

"I never saw him with a sad face. He was always happy," said Lucymar Marrero, host of morning talk show Las Mañanitas on 1440 AM (WPRD). She met Villalobos when she began her radio career.

She remembers that he told the once-shy radio host that she had overcome her fear and become comfortable at the microphone. "You are eating up that microphone," he told her.

"He was always a jokester," Marrero said.

Born in Loíza, Puerto Rico, he began his radio career on a famous Puerto Rican radio station, WQBM. He moved to Orlando 20 years ago, and he continued his career at 1140 AM (WONQ), also known as 11Q, bringing his candid manner to Hispanic listeners in the area.

To please his audience, he frequently flew to Puerto Rico to get the latest hit singles. He went straight to one of the biggest record distributors on the island to obtain them for play on his radio show.

Hispanics in Central Florida remembered him during the morning shows following his death by sharing their good memories of him.

One radio listener remembered him as a great singer. He called in to Las Mañanitas on Friday to describe how Villalobos grabbed the microphone and sang "En Mi Viejo San Juan" with him onstage 20 years ago. "En Mi Viejo San Juan" is a song that reminds every Puerto Rican of the island's beauty.

Villalobos recorded three albums, which were played during Friday's radio show.

"He was loved by his peers and especially by his public," Marrero said.

Villalobos is survived by eight children, Marion, Michelle, Mario, Ralph, Marinel, Jessica, Estermí and William, all of Orlando; two brothers, Nicolas and Rafael, both of Orlando; one sister, Yuya, of Orlando; and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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