A 21st Century Media Personality: Claudia Torrescano
By Jesse Garcia
American radio is going through transition. Several markets are seeing English formats switching to Spanish radio to attract advertising dollars aimed at the growing Hispanic market. While the down economy has cost radio some much needed ad revenue, Spanish radio has held its own and expanded its share.
Some observers credit the appealing music being offered by Latin talent that is finally being promoted in mainstream media. Statisticians point to the increasing numbers of Latinos —through birth rates and immigration — which made up half of this nation’s growth in the last decade, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. Others point to the well-established personalities on Spanish radio that have created a sense of community and developed a following.
One of those compelling voices is Dallas’ very own Claudia Torrescano. Torrescano hosts “Buenos Dias Dallas Fort Worth” every morning from 10 to 11 a.m. and “Enlace Comunitario” every afternoon from 4 to 5 p.m. on Univision Radio’s La Voz del Pueblo on 1270 AM. Her shows tackle everyday problems that Hispanic families are faced with. No subject is taboo for Torrescano, who is originally from San Luis Potosi, Mexico. Her popular show reaches out to experts in every field to give the most accurate information to her listening audience.
It is no surprise that Torrescano’s informative programming has found an audience and has flourished to several top U.S. Hispanic markets that include Chicago, Houston, Las Vegas, McAllen, New Mexico, New York and San Francisco, which broadcast her program on the weekends. People from Latin America have always put their trust on radio, according to the 2005 book “Hispanic Marketing — A Cultural Perspective” by Betty Ann Korzenny . Throughout decades radio has been accessible to communities both urban and rural. Farmers faithfully got their crop prices over the airwaves while townspeople heard their culture preserved through music and religious broadcasting. People who could not afford television and those who could not read newspapers relied on radio as their sole connection to the world.
Torrescano’s success is proof that radio’s credibility and loyal listenership has successfully immigrated to the United States.
This young wife and mother of four may not consider herself a community activist, but does create dialogue and awareness in her community – just like those promotoras in the barrios that most Latinos grew up knowing.
Instead of knocking on doors to let her neighbors know about the latest election or social event, Torrescano goes live on the air to empower her community, from coast to coast.
Infórmate DFW: What are the biggest issues in the Latino community that you are working on?
Torrescano: “I am supporting various efforts such as education, health, immigration, legal issues, at risk youth, domestic violence, depression, etc. All are important for our Latino community in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. My job gives me the opportunity to assist the organizations that are promoting awareness campaigns and that are trying to reach the Spanish-speaking community. Although, there are many important issues, education is a top priority. This is the only way our Latino community will get ahead and better their future lives.”
Infórmate DFW: What are some of the biggest obstacles that our community has to achieve success in education, economic and social justice in North Texas?
Torrescano: “I feel that one of the obstacles is lack of awareness. I feel that our community members need to become involved, most importantly parents in their children’s lives — opening communications and setting high expectations and trust. More people are also opening up new small businesses but still need to learn how to perform more effectively. Involvement and participation of our community is crucial. People who can vote should exercise this privilege. Our vote does count; we can express our needs.”
Infórmate DFW: You report about a lot of communities and social movements in North Texas. Which story sticks out in your mind as something that the community got right?
Torrescano: “One of the events is Las Llaves del Exito. This effort reflects the unity of various organizations to educate our middle and high school Latino students about the process of college admission, essay writing, SAT/ACT testing, financial need and scholarship opportunities. Another event I am excited and looking forward to is the first-ever Hispanic Youth Symposium in the state of Texas, happening in Dallas at Southern Methodist University. The Hispanic Youth Symposium will bring 200 students to be part of the inaugural leadership symposium. Students will participate in art and speech contests. They will also have opportunities to learn, discuss and propose possible solutions for current issues that affect Latinos in this country.”
Infórmate DFW: What are some of the advantages of having a public radio show? Disadvantages?
Torrescano: “It is an advantage to have the opportunity to reach a large audience and provide information in Spanish about various topics affecting our community. The community affairs radio program is a magazine format where we include experts, book authors, and leaders of our communities that share information about education, health, legal issues, art, culture, immigration, among many others. I believe it is fully beneficial and do not think it is a disadvantage at all.”
Infórmate DFW: Tell us about you.
Torrescano: “I was born and raised in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. I have two brothers and one sister. I lost my mother due to cancer four years ago and my father lives in Dallas. I have been involved in various organizations since I arrived from Mexico. The fist organization I volunteered for was Navidad en el Barrio, during a Telethon that was held at the Univision Garland studios, where I stayed for a one year internship. Later, I worked for the City of Dallas, as a public information officer for the Fair housing Office, then NAFTA was passed and I decided to go into International Marketing, I was hired by the JC Penney headquarters as the editor for the Chile, Mexico and Puerto Rico international catalog. I later went to work for The Associates, corporate international operations as the International Marketing Manager for Mexico, Puerto Rico and Costa Rica. I am currently the Director of Community Affairs for Univision Radio in Dallas; I have a strong passion for what I do.”
Infórmate DFW: Where did you go to school?
Torrescano: “I received my bachelor’s degree from the Instituto Teconologico de San Luis Potosi. Right after I graduated, I came to Dallas to study and improve my English skills. When I arrived, I noticed the fast growth of Latinos and the need for bilingual professionals in different fields, so I decided to stay and help out the community here. I was convinced that this country would give me fair opportunities if I would work hard. I was always interested in International Marketing and enrolled in the Master of Arts program at University of Dallas in Irving.”
Infórmate DFW: Tell us about your family.
Torrescano: “I am married and have four children Claudia 16, Carla 13, Alan 7 and Andres 2. We always have a busy but fun life, something different is always happening every day. My husband and I split routes in the mornings and after school, route: #1 and #2. When I have to travel my husband has to take all children to their respective schools and childcare for the little one. It is always hectic. I also make sure to spend time with my children every day, I try hard to give them individual time, so they can talk to me about school, homework, projects, friends, etc. I hope that they maintain their Spanish language, that they all go to college, graduate school and complete a PhD. Hopefully they become entrepreneurs. In the mean time, they understand that solid values are a key to live a peaceful life, such as respect, good ethics, integrity and honesty. They know that faith and persistence are basic factors to get ahead.”
Infórmate DFW: Is it hard being a full-time worker and a mom?
Torrescano: “It is hard to be a mother and work full time, the task is made even more difficult because I believe that a child’s future lies in the foundation set daily at home, therefore not only do I have to run around to attend meeting or press conferences, or be on air, or recording, etc. but also have to give enough time to ensure that my children receive a strong foundation, so they can have bright futures, happy lives, be good individuals in this community and help others.”
Infórmate DFW: What advice do you have for future Latinos/Latinas going into broadcasting?
Torrescano: “It is important to keep an open mind, that is why I highly recommend to study broader fields that are related such as: journalism, communications, English, public relations, etc. It is important to keep in mind that there are limited positions in the broadcasting field, but if this is something Latinos and Latinas really want, they should always take the opportunity to try out various positions, learn as much as possible from each and then decide where their passion is. Everything thing you learn will always be a plus and enrich your career.”
Infórmate DFW: Who are you heroes?
Torrescano: “I have many heroes such as Mother Theresa of Calcutta, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, Margaret Thatcher, Princess Diane, etc. I admire all women that have become educated, and have become leaders and have helped communities in need. I admire them because, despite of their circumstances, whether it is the time that they lived, their various limitations, they fought hard for what they believed in and impacted the world.”
Infórmate DFW: What is your favorite “dicho”?
Torrescano: “‘No hay mal, que por bien no venga.’ I think that this is a soothing dicho whenever someone feels down, or has had a bad experience. I highly believe that everything that we may call a bad experience, we should immediately turn it around and learn from it. I call these life lessons, because life is not easy, many things happen to us so we can learn from them. Sometimes that is the only way we will change things.”