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First Rafael Eli Awards Honor Hispanic TV Pioneers

Cristina Saralegui and Rafael Eli in the 1990s
Cristina Saralegui and Rafael Eli in the 1990s (Image credit: Schramm Marketing Group archives)

 The honorees in the first Rafael Eli Pioneer in Hispanic TV Awards class recently shared their thoughts about what the honor means to them personally, and reflected on the man for whom the award is named.  

Rafael Eli was the co-producer of the annual Hispanic Television Summit
and a partner at Schramm Marketing Group. He lost his battle with COVID-19 on April 16. He will be remembered on Sept. 21 during the Hispanic Television and Video Awards ceremony, which kicks off with a memorial video about Eli’s career narrated by Cristina Saralegui, the Spanish-language talk show legend. 

The Rafael Eli awards are presented in three different categories — media, creativity and talent — by Multichannel News and B+C in recognition of individuals who are pioneers in the Hispanic TV industry. The recipients this year knew Eli personally. They are: Andres Cantor, sports commentator for Telemundo Deportes (talent); Gene Bryan, publisher of HispanicAd.com and CEO of Hispanic Media (media); and the team of executives at d expósito & Partners (creativity), including Daisy Expósito-Ulla, chairman and CEO; Jorge Ulla, partner, chief ideation officer; Gloria Constanza, partner, chief contact strategist; Fernando Fernandez, partner, chief client officer; John Ross, partner, chief financial officer; Louis Maldonado, partner, managing director; and Paco Olavarrieta, chief creative officer.     

Andrés Cantor

Andrés Cantor (Image credit: Telemundo)


Andrés Cantor: ‘Voice of Soccer’

Andrés Cantor is Telemundo’s Emmy Award-winning voice of soccer, and a veteran television sportscaster, widely known to U.S. fans in both Spanish and English. Originally from Argentina, Cantor got his start while still in high school as a U.S.-based contributing reporter for what was then Argentina’s most popular sports magazine. In the 1980s, at his first television audition, he was required to conduct a live sportscast. The station owner was so impressed with his soccer knowledge and his enthusiastic play by play that he was hired on the spot. 

Cantor’s recognizable, long-winded “gooool” made its TV debut shortly there­after. Today, Andrés Cantor is the most recognized voice of soccer in the country and has been featured on multiple TV shows, including a recurring role as himself on The Simpsons.  

“I was introduced to Rafael Eli when he was at AT&T and involved with their sponsorship of Major League Soccer,” Cantor said. “Later, I worked directly with him when he was at Schramm, and promoting international soccer matches. I am honored to get this award named for Rafael. It seems appropriate. He was a pioneer in soccer marketing, and I am being recognized as a pioneer of soccer television.”

Gene Bryan

Gene Bryan (Image credit: Hispanic Media)

Gene Bryan: Ad Maven

Gene Bryan had already had a long career in Hispanic radio and TV media sales when, in 1998, he founded HispanicAd.com, a leading digital publication serving executives in the Hispanic brand advertising and media business. “Rafael and I both attended high school in Puerto Rico,” Bryan said. “We had that in common, and our relationship grew from there.” 

Bryan has had a 20-plus year commitment to the growth of Hispanic media. He and HispanicAd.com have been strong supporters of the Hispanic Television Summit since the Summit’s first year.  “Rafael es mi hermano; he’s like my brother,” Bryan said. “He would always call to get my suggestions for speakers and the next set of award recipients at the Summit. I am humbled.”  

Daisy Expósito-Ulla

Daisy Expósito-Ulla (Image credit: d expósito & Partners)

Agency Pioneers   

The team at  d expósito & Partners  had worked with Eli starting in 1994 when he first joined AT&T in the Hispanic marketing division. They were then AT&T’s Hispanic agency as part of Y&R’s Bravo Group. “Rafael made us all better — at what we do, and how we work as a team,” Daisy Expósito-Ulla said. “He was someone who respected and nurtured creative ideas, and he was a heck of a lot of fun to work with.”  

Partner Gloria Constanza mentioned that Rafael was always focused on innovations in television programming for Hispanics, whether it was the launch of Major League Soccer or championship boxing. He “was passionate and committed to the Hispanic fan and often spoke about VOD way back” before it was widely available, she said. 

The group of seven recipients from
d expósito & Partners are unique. They have worked together for more than 20 years and have earned a reputation as an award-winning team that serves some of the leading brands in the Hispanic market, including AARP, McDonald’s and the U.S. Army.

The Hispanic Television and Video Awards ceremony, which includes the presentation of The Rafael Eli awards, is hosted by two leading on-air personalities, Pamela Silva, anchor of Univision’s Primer Impacto, and Luis Sandoval, West Coast correspondent for Univision’s ¡Despierta América! The ceremony is scheduled to start at noon ET on Day 1 of the four-day “virtual” presentation of the 18th annual Hispanic Television Summit.  

This year’s Summit is being offered free of charge for the first time.  To learn more, go to FallTVevents.com.

Joe Schramm is president of Schramm Marketing Group and producer of the annual Hispanic Television Summit.