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May 31, 2006

My First Ever Live Radio Interview: In Spanish – No Less!

When you run a travel website, working with the media is a must. There are so many news to get out there, and it’s part of letting the world know about Travel and Transitions. During the past 18 months I have moved from being an entrepreneur in the language service business to becoming an online publisher and travel writer and this was quite the transition indeed. Many new skills had to be and continue to have to be learned: writing, photography, basic web design, internet marketing, contest administration, publicity etc. etc.

Two days ago I was invited to come in for my first live radio interview. I had actually already been interviewed earlier this year by CBC Radio about the topic of immigrant settlement issues and volunteer work placements for New Canadians, but that interview was pre-recorded and edited. This time I was to be interviewed by Voces Latinas, CHHA 1610 am, Toronto’s Hispanic radio station. The difference was that this interview was going to go out live on air, and to make it even more suspenseful, the entire interview was going to be in Spanish.

Voces Latinas is actually run out of the San Lorenzo Community Centre near Lawrence and Dufferin Streets and is the brainchild of Father Hernan Astudillo, an immigrant from Ecuador. He approached the Canadian Radio and Television Commission (CRTC) in 1998 about the possibility of creating a radio station for Toronto’s Spanish-speaking community. With the help of several experts in the broadcasting industry, on April 17, 2003, the San Lorenzo Latin American Community Centre was finally granted a radio broadcasting license and Father Astudillo together with a group of volunteers built the studio and the broadcasting tower.

Today, Voces Latinas is run 95% by volunteers and focuses on local and global issues affecting the Spanish-speaking community. As a lover of the Spanish language, I myself listen to it a lot and it’s a great learning opportunity to expand my language knowledge and to get exposed to different issues affecting Toronto’s Latin community. Actually, the main programming at Voces Latinas is offered in four languages: Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Tagalog, while a minor component of the programs is in English and French.

Programs feature news analysis of current events in Latin America, local upcoming events, forums for community groups, sports discussions as well as interviews and discussions on a variety of social issues, such as education, women’s issues, drug and substance abuse, immigration, housing, citizen involvement, multiculturalism and many more.

The program that I was on is called “Back to School” which focuses on inspiring its listeners through interviews to continuously upgrade their skills and keep expanding their knowledge. The hosts of the program, Elina and Gina, two young dynamic ladies of Ecuadorian descent, are also volunteers and passionate about their program. The program also has a third temporary co-host, Carla, a journalism student from Mexico, here in Toronto until July. Unfortunately Carla was unable to make it this past Monday because she was caught up in Toronto transit strike.

Just before 8 pm the three of us sat down around a round table in the basement studio at Voces Latinas, and the big table-top microphones were positioned in front of each of us. The volunteer sound engineer was already positioned in the control room. The introductory music came on right at 8 pm and about 7 minutes later I saw the red light flash “al aire”, meaning that we were live on the air.

Elina and Gina introduced the show and today’s program. This took a few minutes and we went to a music break right after, so I had a reprieve of a few minutes. Funny enough, I wasn’t nervous. The two radio hosts had created such a comfortable atmosphere that I didn’t even feel uptight, even though I was going to do a live interview in my 3rd language!

This was quite different from my recent live television interview with CTV Ottawa on May 19, when I reported live from the Tulip Festival at 6 pm from Majors Hill Park. That was my first TV interview and honestly, my knees were shaking, my lips were trembling and my teeth were chattering. Once the cameraman put the earpiece into my ear and the tiny microphone on my lapel, I got so incredibly nervous about the fact that I was going to be beamed live all over the nation’s capital and I figured it would be plainly obvious that I was freaked out. But the anchorman Max Keeping, a local Ottawa celebrity and recognized community leader, and his crew handled everything totally professionally and I managed to calm myself down enough to get through about 5 minutes of a live on-air TV interview. In the end I think I did okay.

But strangely enough, at Voces Latinas I was totally relaxed. We got going, and Elina and Gina had a nice interplay between one another and they took turns asking me questions about my full-time business, www.textronics.com, my language services business, and my part-time business, www.travelandtransitions.com, my travel website and the real passion of my life. Their weekly program, “Back to School”, focuses on educational issues, career choices, career changes and career transitions, and it is broadcast in "Spanglish" (a blend of English and Spanish) every Monday night from 8 to 9 pm.

Obviously my choice to become an entrepreneur 16 years ago and my decision 1.5 years ago to add another venture, fit into this topic very well. Along the way the topic of me going back to school to do 2 academic degrees part-time came up as well, and my ongoing learning efforts in order to learn web design, photography, Internet marketing and online publishing were touched on as well.

Time just flew by and before I realized it the hour was over. The three of us chatted for a while and I mentioned that I might have some news soon since I will be kicking off a fundraising effort to benefit the Scadding Court Community Centre’s (SCCC’s) International Program in the near future. The SCCC sends at-risk youth from low income neighbourhoods on community service programs to India to take them out of their negative environments. In Kolkata they are introduced to volunteer work where they are making a difference to the local community. Instead of turning into gang leaders, the participants in this program completely change their lives and their outlook. In the end they often become community leaders after their return to Toronto and continue their positive work locally in this city.

So I am hoping that next time I come out to Voces Latinas I will have some interesting news to report about the fundraising efforts for this excellent program that helps people locally and abroad, building bridges and communities in Toronto and on the other side of the globe. Elina and Gina were quite interested since they also have a strong dedication to community service and they volunteer themselves, and they invited me to come back in the next few weeks to report on all the new developments.

Voces Latinas works with a great team of volunteers who dedicate their time to the community, and their show encourages local Spanish speakers to go back to school, upgrade their skills and improve their lives. Another example of how volunteers can make such important contributions.

For volunteer, advertising or sponsorship opportunities with Voces Latinas please contact:

Voces Latinas CHHA 1610 AM
Tel. (416) 782-2953
Fax (416) 782-1219
Email: sanlorenzo@rogers.com

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