Fifth Estater

Good News for Telemundo

Escobar tasked with keeping Hispanic community well-informed 6/14/2010 01:13:00 AM Eastern

Ramon Escobar

Title:
Executive VP, Telemundo Network News

Education:
B.A., University of Missouri, 1990

Employment:
WTVJ Miami: executive producer/ special projects, 1994-1996; managing editor, 1996-1997; VP/ news director, 1997-2000

MSNBC, VP of live programming/ executive producer dayside programming, 2000-2002

NBC/Telemundo: integration leader/senior VP, news and creative services, 2002-2004; executive VP of programming and production, 2004-2006; senior executive VP of entertainment, 2006-2007

Sucherman Consulting Group, 2007-2009

Current position since February 2010

Personal:
b. April 30, 1969; lives in Miami Beach with partner, Ivan

Ramon Escobar’s first exposure to high-level newsgathering
occurred at the White House when he was
16. Escobar was one of 100 boys invited to meet President Reagan as part of the American
Legion’s youth leadership outfit, Boys
Nation.

Considering careers in both politics
and news, Escobar passed the press corps,
which was stuck behind a rope line, en
route to the president’s speech in the
Rose Garden. Suddenly, ABC News icon
Sam Donaldson jumped at Escobar with
a proposition. “He said, ‘Do you want to
get on TV, kid?’” Escobar recalls. “‘Ask the
president about apartheid!’”

The boys were under strict orders not
to ask questions, and the respectful Escobar
stuck to the rules. But he was nonetheless
bitten by the reporting bug. “At
that moment I realized, I want to do what
Sam Donaldson does,” he says. “I want to
ask questions, because there are a lot of
questions waiting to be asked.”

With Arizona’s controversial new immigration
law and the landmark U.S. Census
afoot, there are loads of questions that
the booming Hispanic community wants
answered. And Escobar, a Telemundo
veteran who returned to the network
in February as executive VP of news, is
giving his all to keep viewers informed.
“There’s never been a more challenging
time or important time for our viewers,” he says. “Our priority is, how do we define the issues for them, and how do we
help them manage through them?”

Escobar was born in 1969 to a Colombian
mother and Spanish father. The
family was visiting relatives in Little Rock,
en route to settling in New York, when
a giant snowstorm kept them stuck in
place; they decided to stay in Arkansas
for 20 years.

Spanish-speakers were uncommon in
Little Rock, and Escobar’s mother, Blanca,
learned English from watching local
news. “That’s how I gained the love and
passion for people telling stories about
the community,” Escobar says. “That’s
how I got hooked on television.”

Blanca drilled into her three children the
importance of a solid education. “There
was no more important thing to me,” she
says. “I told Ramon, ‘You can beat discrimination
if you have a good education.’”

Escobar calls both Blanca and Telemundo
President Don Browne mentors;
it was Browne who brought Escobar into
NBC when the two met at a convention
in 1994. Then the general manager at
WTVJ Miami, Browne remembers a confident, perhaps cocky, young man with
a passion for news. He tapped Escobar to head up WTVJ’s special projects unit,
which featured a lot of investigative work,
then made him news director in 1997 at
the age of 28—the youngest news director
in NBC O&O history.

Browne says Escobar’s news instincts
were more important than decades of experience.
“He’s got a great natural IQ and
a great news IQ,” Browne points out, “and
he combines them to make a news organization
greater than the sum of its parts.”

Escobar subsequently served as VP of
live programming at MSNBC, and oversaw
the integration of Telemundo after
NBC’s acquisition of the network. After
leaving in 2007 for a consulting firm that
counted Telemundo among its clients,
Escobar jumped at the chance to work
for Browne again.

Telemundo is perhaps best known for
its melodramatic telenovelas, but Escobar
is pushing to make it a leading news organization.
The network debuted a Spanishlanguage
version of Meet the Press, called
Enfoque, in April. The network also airs
nightly 5 p.m. and 6:30 newscasts, and is
stepping up local news at its owned stations.
All of NBC’s news outlets dedicated
May 26 to the immigration issue.

Browne says Escobar, with rich experience
in several NBC divisions, serves as
a “critical link” between Telemundo and
NBC News: “He literally has a place at the
NBC News table.”

Escobar, an avid runner who has
shed 75 pounds in the last year, says he
wants the entire Hispanic community
to take part in the newsgathering process
through digital media. Browne says
his protégé is just the man to mobilize
them. “Ramon is a great communicator
and tremendous energizer,” he says. “He
can really get people energized around
news coverage.”

E-mail comments to mmalone
@nbmedia.com
and follow him on
Twitter: @StationBiz

Ramon Escobar

Title:
Executive VP, Telemundo Network News

Education:
B.A., University of Missouri, 1990

Employment:
WTVJ Miami: executive producer/ special projects, 1994-1996; managing editor, 1996-1997; VP/ news director, 1997-2000

MSNBC, VP of live programming/ executive producer dayside programming, 2000-2002

NBC/Telemundo: integration leader/senior VP, news and creative services, 2002-2004; executive VP of programming and production, 2004-2006; senior executive VP of entertainment, 2006-2007

Sucherman Consulting Group, 2007-2009

Current position since February 2010

Personal:
b. April 30, 1969; lives in Miami Beach with partner, Ivan

September
October