Interview with Andres Chaparro, Telemundo Denver

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Earlier this year, Telemundo Denver won the Colorado Broadcaster’s Association’s “2018 Station of the Year” award. We had the privilege of sitting down with Andres Chaparro, President and GM of Telemundo Denver, to talk about how Telemundo Denver has achieved such success, how they approach connecting with Denver’s Hispanic community, and where Andres thinks Hispanic media is headed. We’ve got it all on video, but you can check out the transcript below as well.

ANDRES: In 2010, when I arrived at this station, there was a lot of things happening in the market. In Telemundo, the Spanish language station was doing OK. We saw an opportunity in the market for us to reevaluate our position and we decided that it was time for us to really engage with the community and really service them with everything we had.

At that point, we were a very small operation – there were only like seven or eight employees — and we knew that by engaging the community, we were going to be able to understand their needs and the opportunities as well. Because, for us, the most important thing was to serve the community, not so much to run the operation itself. It was, can we engage the community to understand so we can actually create a strategy?

That’s what we did. We found first that health and education was key for our community. They needed to see us. We were not visible. Second of all, information about those key pillars. And third, is for them to believe that the station was there to help them. And I don’t think that we were doing either of them. We were trying with limited resources. So, we created a strategy, one of them is being out there in the market not only us as leaders but the employees. Second, create more events and partnerships so we could be in front of the community for them to see us, touch us, understand who we are. And the most important one — to launch a newscast. And we did it in partnership with our affiliate station, the NBC KUSA station. We’d been there for three years. And we launched a newscast with three and a half employees. Of course, with the technical amazing support of KUSA and their team. Without them, we would not have been able to do it so we will always be grateful.

After three years we did so well that we were able to remove our operation from the news at that point. We built this state-of-the-art facility. And then we launched three more newscasts so now in 2018 we are actually broadcasting four live newscasts, we have almost between 45 and 50 employees and we have almost 47 events that we launch. In addition to that, we have a website which is localized, we broadcast on our website our entire programming. We have the rights for the Olympics, for the World Cup, for the English Premier League. We have partnerships with organizations here such as the American Diabetes Association, Susan G. Komen, 9 Health, Alzheimer’s Association, churches, community centers, Latina safe houses, City of Aurora, City of Denver, DPS.

And with this I’m trying to say that yes, the operation is growing, but we could not have done it without understanding the community and partnering up with or having partnerships with the organizations that are really working with the community. And we got to a wonderful place now that the Colorado Broadcasters Association just surprised us with the Station of the Year Award, regardless of language, which is unheard of, so we’re extremely excited and proud but all this is due to three things: Yes, the leadership that we can bring here; the human asset, our employees; and I think the community. Working with the community and for the community is what is driving us. If we lose that sight, then we will be getting into a situation in which we will be comfortable and we don’t want to. I always want to think that we are the underdog.

EVOLUTION: You mentioned the importance of the partnerships you’ve forged with various groups — not even just in the media. If somebody is reevaluating, let’s say, you’re an established station but you’re reevaluating those partnerships because you’ve gotten comfortable, you’ve gotten complacent, how would you recommend someone do that or whether it’s a business that needs to reinvigorate their partnerships or represent themselves to the community, or another one that’s just starting out as you were — do you have any tips or how would you recommend they start the process?

ANDRES: It is a really important question because that’s how we did it when we got here, when there were only seven employees. First we need to understand, what do we have? We need to understand where we’re heading —  what do we want to accomplish? And third is, who do we want to communicate with? Who do we want to serve? Is it a consumer who is going to buy my good? Or is it someone I am going to serve? Depending on your strategy.

And it’s key as well in this market —  I’ve worked in different markets, I’ve worked in Chicago and Dallas and Houston and Albuquerque, New Mexico, and other places – and this is such a unique market. The composition of the Hispanic community here is amazing. And I think this market allows you to really dig deep and understand what are you saying. But understand as well that there’s so many more businesses and organizations like yours who are willing to work with you, who are in the same situation as you, that if you reach out to them, they’ll be willing to extend their hand and say, “You know what? Tell me how can I do this. How can we work together?” and we can benefit. And I think that that’s the huge, the best opportunity, or the biggest opportunity in this market. I think there are organizations who are doing it, but we’re not doing it enough and I think leaders should just kind of take their guard down and open themselves to say, it’s okay to say, “You know what? I need to partner up with these people. They are the experts on this, we can complement each other.” But that depends on the strategy and how willing are you, how far are you willing to go to open your organization, your operation, for someone else to come in and complement what you’re doing.

EVOLUTION: You already mentioned, as well, that you guys obviously have a vested interest in representing the Hispanic community. Responding to their needs is what has allowed you guys to grow. Do you think other media outlets — not necessarily just television, though that’s the one you understand best — do you think that considering the market here and the way the community and the Hispanic community figures into the media market here, as you were talking about it’s a unique opportunity, do you think enough media outlets and groups really appreciate the market here and appreciate how important it is to incorporate the Hispanic community into their outreach?

ANDRES: You know, that is a really key question because I can say that, for example, leaders such as — and I’m going to say someone who is right in front of me – Anne Smith and some of our leaders who have been doing that for many years. This is not something new. It’s just I think that finally, on the environment, on the political environment as well, on the economics, on the opportunities, maybe some more demographics have reached a plateau when it comes to business proposition, that they’re saying, “Where else can we reach? How else can we —” because all I’m doing is just switching dollars from left to right, this one to this one, to try. Now we have the digital social media platforms as well and out of home, anywhere, everywhere, the millennials.

So yes, the Hispanic community is an amazing opportunity. When you have 21% of the total population of Colorado in Hispanics, 30% in Denver, how can you say no? How can you not pay attention to them? So, the opportunity is there and I think that the organizations are doing it. Media outlets are doing it as well. And I think businesses are saying, “It’s time for us to pay attention.” Not that they didn’t want to do it. Maybe we as well, we need to take responsibility as media outlets. Maybe we didn’t do a good job in introducing them to our community, the power of our community. “How can we complement them?” I don’t want to blame it on them. I think we all have to share that, the piece that we didn’t do maybe enough or we were not ready to present it in a certain way. I think now we are doing it and it’s been enough. It’s taken so many years, it’s not just done in five years, it’s been almost twenty, thirty years in the works. A lot of people behind us have done it so we could not have done that without them. We’re just being able to capitalize on a lot of work of ours and from our strategy and our investments and the amazing vision that we have.

EVOLUTION: So, in forging the relationship with the Hispanic community as a media outlet, what are the ways — there’s people trying to capitalize it and marketing directly to them and — that a media outlet like yours can connect with the Hispanic community? 

ANDRES: I think that, as well, and they need to understand, what is it that tickles them? What moves them? What are their needs? What do they like? Do they feel comfortable talking in Spanish, English? Where do they come from as well? Where do they go shopping? Do they go to the church? Do they vote? Do they engage in politics? Do they like to read?

All I say is, yes! They do all that like any other consumer. All you have to do is reach out to those who understand, whether you are a leader who doesn’t speak Spanish but understands the community, guess what? Work with them. If you have someone who speaks Spanish and is a leader who can help you connect with them, do it as well. There are several leaders here who do not specifically need to speak Spanish in order to communicate with them.

Just to give you an example: When we ask someone who has been here for ten, fifteen, let’s say twenty years, we ask them one question: When you are doing your math in your brain, are you doing it in English or in Spanish? We ask them, when you are praying in your brain, in your mind, do you pray in English or in Spanish? Nine, or eight out of ten are going to tell you “In Spanish.” Even though they speak English 90% of the time. It’s what is it that connects them back to their home, their roots, their culture.

And that’s what Spanish language media is doing. What we have when you run an ad with us has 4x more impact than if you were to run it in the English language. We’re not saying that they’re not culturized, that English language stations are not reaching to Hispanics. They’re doing it. We are doing it. We go back and forth. But what is it that is going to help them make the decision? It’s the language. It is the culture. Who understands them. Who talks to them in their language and makes them think that way. Not so much behave that way. So I think that ask this question to anyone that you can. Ask them, if you see a Hispanic. Just, I don’t know. Ask them. Do you pray, do your math, do your finances, when you’re out to buy a car: are you thinking in English? I don’t do it. I do it in Spanish. And I’ve been here 20 years.

EVOLUTION: You’ve been here 20 years. You’ve been here quite a while. Where do you see the future of Hispanic media, Telemundo, the Denver area market? What do you see as the keys to success going forward?

ANDRES: My thing is that, what we’re seeing is that the engagement from businesses acknowledging the power the buying power of the Hispanic community is the first step. And we’re seeing it. So, I think it’s going to continue growing. So that is going to help the landscape of media outlets and media dollars available to shift. Why? Because then you are not going to have to focus only on one demographic. You’re going to have several options. And it’s not only us, as well, because you’re going to have the Asian community, African American communities. So, we’re complementing. But the numbers I go by. The numbers are not going to change. That’s the simple math formula. 31% of total population in the Denver metro area is banks. DPS is not exactly the number I’m going to give you, but it’s close to 65% of total students at DPS are considered Hispanics. How can you not pay attention? Just, understand it. So, I think that’s not so much the media outlet how we’re going to adjust. It’s how can we all understand that the Hispanic community is going to continue growing. It’s not going to change and we’re going to continue spending, we’re going to continue growing, and we are going to continue as well being a voice not only in the community but in the political environment.