It’s darkish within the backstage passages of the shuttered Alameda Theatre, with mild from the art-deco marquee out entrance and the phosphorescent black mild murals on the theater’s partitions not reaching into the shadowy areas past the storied playhouse.
However strolling these corridors, tracing the footsteps of glamorous performers from Spain, Mexico, and elsewhere in Latin America, results in a wide-open cavern of concrete flooring, metal beams, and loading ramps. What was initially meant to function a stage home the place set designs could possibly be constructed will in 2020 turn out to be the brand new house of Texas Public Radio.
Now as if stepping from behind the velvet curtains of obscurity onto middle stage, the area will honor a nationwide big of media so humble and but visionary his identify is probably much less recognized than the individuals and causes he championed.
On Tuesday, TPR and Guillermo Nicolas will announce a naming-rights present to the general public radio station and introduce the group to the Emilio and Irma Nicolas Media Middle, which shall be housed within the nonhistoric area of the Alameda.
Information of TPR’s curiosity within the Alameda Theatre first broke in 2016 and a partnership shaped between the nonprofit radio station, Bexar County, and the Metropolis of San Antonio. Plans to revive the 1949 theater name for a 1,000-seat venue full with trendy sound and lighting upgrades and the restoration of traditionally vital buildings.
For TPR, presently housed in a medical workplace constructing on Datapoint Drive, the theater’s nonhistoric warehouse area will turn into its new station headquarters. TPR will relocate to the 40,000-square-foot area dealing with Commerce Road inside two years.
At a complete undertaking value of $12.5 million, the brand new Media Middle will home not solely a broadcasting studio overlooking San Pedro Creek, but in addition a black-box theater with 220 seats for broadcast-quality productions and a smaller efficiency studio with seating for 50. Overland Companions is designing the area and JLL is the undertaking supervisor. In August, Carlos Alvarez, chairman and CEO of The Gambrinus Co., pledged $2 million towards the undertaking.
The aim, stated Joyce Slocum, TPR president and CEO, is to be seen and accessible to the group. “We want people to say, ‘Let’s see what’s going on at TPR,” she stated. The situation may also function a catalyst to ongoing revitalization alongside the west finish of Houston Road, she added, the place Mexican-American-owned companies as soon as thrived, and in current occasions spurred by development of the brand new Frost Tower.
The Nicolas household’s ties to the Alameda return to its begin. Within the 1940s and ’50s, Guillermo’s grandfather Raoul Cortez broadcast his radio and later tv exhibits from the Alameda earlier than its personal headquarters was constructed. Cortez introduced musicians from Mexico to carry out on the radio stay, then on the theater, and people performers typically visited the rooftop membership Cortez additionally owned, La Villa Fontana on South Flores Road, after their exhibits.
“They’ve always been philanthropic, but quietly,” stated Emilio and Irma Nicolas’ youngest youngster, Guillermo, president of the business actual property administration and improvement firm 3N Group and chairman of the San Antonio Arts Fee.
Over a Mexican Plate and iced tea at Café Alameda on Houston Road Thursday, Guillermo spoke to the Rivard Report of his father and mom and his determination to make what he would solely describe as a “significant contribution” to TPR, with nice respect although not their information. In doing so, he continues the household’s legacy of giving.
Guillermo actually admits he didn’t know of his father’s legendary generosity towards others till he was a younger grownup, and when he introduced it up, Emilio was livid, he stated. “In their mindset, their philanthropy is private and it’s not a put-your-name-on-the-building or get a big article written in the paper,” Guillermo stated.
“But … for me, it’s really important … and it makes me feel good that my parents will be recognized. More importantly, I think it will, for a lot of young Hispanic kids who don’t have a lot of people they might relate to, I think it will help them.”
If Guillermo didn’t know of his mother and father’ benevolence, he was keenly conscious of the influence they made within the enterprise of broadcasting whilst Emilio eschewed particular discover or recognition.
Born in 1930 in Coahuila, Mexico, Emilio got here to San Antonio in 1948 and graduated from St. Mary’s College. In 1953, he married Irma, the daughter of Genoveva and Raoul Cortez, who obtained a license from the Federal Communications Fee for radio (KCOR-AM) and tv (KCOR-TV) stations within the 1940s. That union joined the 2 households in a enterprise that may give rise to a strong new medium and, by the top of the century, would create a big cultural and financial legacy for the Spanish-speaking public.
Nevertheless it’s a legacy not extensively recognized in San Antonio or past. “If we were in New York, his name would be synonymous with Paley (William, founder of CBS) or Sarnoff (David, of NBC) because my father built the fourth network,” Guillermo stated. “If we were in a bigger market, and he was a different person, you would know him commonly because of his accomplishment.”
Even his closest pals have been unaware again within the day. “The first time many of his friends knew he had built this business was when he sold to Hallmark and it was in the Wall Street Journal, and there were a bunch of zeroes [in the sales price],” Guillermo stated. “’Holy s—! Emilio is a multimillionaire and he never told us.’ I think they thought he just had a crappy little TV station.”
Imaginative and prescient and Innovation
Steadfast in his perception that the airwaves belonged to the individuals, that Mexican-People deserved to have a voice in politics, and San Antonio had earned his devotion, Emilio ran his broadcasting empire not from a nook workplace in New York or Los Angeles, however in his adopted hometown. From San Antonio, he beamed programming by way of satellites to listeners at 250 affiliate stations throughout the nation.
“What I love about what he did is not only did he serve to educate and entertain his viewers … it was also a political platform,” Guillermo stated. “That’s how the [civil rights workers] Willie Velasquezes and César Chávezes of the world became known. Our Mexican-American population reveres these people, but they never think about why and how heard about them. It’s because my father and grandfather opened the airwaves to them.”
Guillermo, 10 years youthful than his older siblings, watched all of it, touring alongside his father as he established associates across the nation in different cities with giant Hispanic populations. In 2003, after gigs at QVC, the Residence Buying Community and Residence Purchasing Español, Guillermo went to work at his father’s community, Univision. Quickly after, discovering and correcting discrepancies within the corporations’ actual property books, his personal profession in business actual property was launched.
In story after story, Guillermo advised of his father’s humility, enterprise acumen, and tenacity. He talks of a time within the 1980s when two teams in San Antonio have been provided the prospect to vie for establishing TPR. Emilio lent one group some obtainable studio area, gear, and engineers. In the long run, that group was not profitable, however the reminiscence is simply one of many many occasions Guillermo noticed his father step in to assist for a trigger he believed in.
Whereas Emilio created wealth for others via the associates he established, he additionally helped launch the Hispanic promoting business by insisting that commercials wouldn’t be dubbed. “That opened the door to millions,” Guillermo stated, then advised the story of how his father produced the primary Spanish-language advertisements for Coca-Cola at borrowed studio area in Mexico Metropolis.
A lot of Guillermo’s reminiscences are born of delight in his father’s many firsts, together with how he created the primary satellite-interconnected community within the nation. “He was also the first broadcaster to name a woman as co-anchor, Teresa Rodríguez,” he stated. “That was years before Katie Couric.”
And although Emilio has acquired quite a few accolades through the years, together with a 2015 Texas Medal for the Arts Award in multimedia and inclusion in a Smithsonian exhibit on American innovation, it took urging by an adoring son to push Emilio and his accomplishments into the limelight.
“I told him, ‘It’s your obligation to show young Hispanic males and females that don’t have hope that they can do more than what their parents have done, that they can do it, too,” Guillermo stated. Of his mom, Guillermo stated she is the unsung hero of Emilio’s success. “She is an amazing woman,” he stated, and so begins one other story, this time of her pressure of will and the way she used it to make the enterprise higher, her metropolis stronger.
Associated: Honoring Don Emilio, San Antonio’s Spanish-Language TV Pioneer
Emilio, 88, and Irma, 86, nonetheless reside collectively in a house they constructed on the property the place their first home as soon as stood in Olmos Park, the place they raised their household. Although Emilio’s bodily well being is declining, his thoughts is sharp, and he nonetheless listens to the opera and symphony.
Guillermo hoped it might be a welcome shock when he shares information of the TPR Media Middle naming present.
“I want them to know that their city will have some recognition of [their success], and they will be remembered,” he stated.
Disclosure: Overland Companions is a Rivard Report enterprise member. For a full listing of supporters, click on right here.