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Vincent Cordero

The Chicago TV market is jammed with experienced station managers, such as WLS' Emily Barr and WMAQ's Larry Wert. But relative newbie Vincent Cordero, 37, more than holds his own in the No. 3 DMA.

Cordero took over as VP and general manager of the Univision and TeleFutura affiliates in Chicago (WGBO and WXFT) at age 33 and has created a lifeline for the market's Hispanic viewers, who represent 20% of the local population.

A native Los Angeleno, Cordero got his foot in the Univision door 10 years ago, starting as an executive trainee before eventually moving up to VP of business development and labor affairs. When he was tapped to take over the Chicago duopoly in early 2005, Univision president/COO Ray Rodriguez challenged Cordero to “take our Chicago stations to even greater levels of success.”

The young GM has responded in kind. WGBO was Chicago's top Spanish-language station in late news among adults 18-49 in April, according to Nielsen, trailing only English-language powerhouses WLS and WMAQ overall in the market. Moreover, it boosted ratings in that category by 19% over the previous April.

“Our audience expects and deserves the highest caliber of news,” Cordero said via e-mail, “and relies on us to provide the most up-to-date, relevant information on issues that are of importance, including the economy, health care, education and immigration.”

Under Cordero's guidance, the stations have launched several public service campaigns, including a voter registration drive and town hall meetings focused on everything from personal finance to the DTV transition. Building on the stations' twin pillars of news and public service, Cordero is launching an initiative with Chicago Public Schools and community organizations that will outline the importance of college to Latino teens. Univision will also partner with select Chicago schools to highlight community issues by airing student-generated content on the Web and on-air.

“As leaders in broadcast television in Chicago, we must fulfill our responsibility to serve our audience and community,” Cordero says.

Maria Jimenez, media PR supervisor at Hispanic-focused ad agency Acento, says Cordero has left his mark on Chicago in a relatively short period. “Vincent impressed us when he came to town with his passion and energy,” she says. “He wanted to work together to improve or initiate unique programs that went beyond spots and dots.” —Michael Malone