Host Cover the Latino Community!

Angela Assaf
March 30, 2008
Defiance Crescent News

TOLEDO -- Antonio Rios still likes to daydream, but he doesn't have to. At age 48 he is living his dream of running his own advertising, marketing and Latino entertainment agency right here in the Heartland. 

The 1979 Defiance High School graduate produces his own Spanish language TV show, "Voces Latinas." 

"I love entertainment and I love the fact that I'm helping people," commented Rios recently from his studio in Toledo. "Whenever I go out and people say, 'Hey Tony, wow! Love your show, man. Keep up the great work,' I find it so gratifying." 

It airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. and Saturdays at 7 p.m. on the Buckeye CableSystem Channel 69. 

"Our main purpose on the show is to showcase the Hispanic/Latino community. There are no other local TV shows that do this in northwest Ohio." 

Topics covered are the arts, cooking, health, business, educational programming and entertainment -- Rios' favorite beat. 

Rios just returned from a trip to Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon and Los Angeles. He and his wife decided to visit these places (for the first time) on a vacation and took their TV camera along to give their fans a view from the Rios family angle. "We showed some pretty amazing sights of the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon.

""While we were in Los Angeles we spoke with people from Hollywood, Ventura, Rodeo Drive, China Town, Universal Studios, Olvera Street and more." 

In the more than 18 years that Rios has been doing the show he has taken it on location from Cancun, Mexico, to South America more than a half-dozen times. We spent Christmas Day in 2003 on the beach in Puerto De La Cruz filming in Venezuela. Then we went to the capital city of Caracas to join the one million in attendance to ring in the New Year. What a party that was. The weather was spectacular as well as the people." 

The tone was a bit more somber when in 1999 he went to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, to cover the Hurricane Mitch relief efforts. 

Over the course of his travels Rios has observed the Hispanic/Latino communities in South America have dramatically different customs than in the U.S. 

"In South America the people live very laid back, mostly from paycheck to paycheck." (He says they make less than half the minimum wage earned by some Americans).

"One thing that surprised me was how the people in their culture all get together as a family to eat every day. Here it seems family time is something we only take serious during holidays. Family is all most of them have and family time is very important. 
"They like to stay informed with what is going on in the world whenever they can, but not too many people have a computer in their home. They have to go out to cyber cafes." 

Rios is getting geared up for his next trip to Memphis, Tenn., to visit Graceland. "I've always wanted to do a show there since the passing of Elvis. I grew up singing and impersonating Elvis Presley as a kid. I want to see in person how the 'king' lived and just be there." 
He did, however, meet the "queen of soul," Gladys Knight, in 2001, when she was in Toledo for a benefit. 

"Knight was very kind and really laid back off camera," remarks Rios about an interview he did with Knight for his show. "She knew how to work the camera when it was on and her professionalism really showed." 

Rios' apparent ease on camera and behind the mic come from his own professional music experience. He says being on stage performing and talking to many different people over the years kind of broke him in. 
He did a lot of interviews and appeared on local radio shows back in the day when he was promoting his CD, "Tony Rios Estoy Enamorado De Ti." He also played trumpet for the University of Toledo Jazz and Symphony band and sang for a variety of Tejano bands, traveling all over the Midwest. 

The Rios family tree is abundant with singers and musicians on both sides. He recalls there was always music playing and his parents were big fans of the 1950s and '60s music as well as the Latino artists. 

"My mother would always sing to me as a child and teach me songs in Spanish. My father loved playing the guitar and the accordion. Both of my uncles played instruments. On weekends we would go and visit my grandfather who lived in the country in Erie, Mich., and there would be musicians there singing and playing their guitars.

"I just happened to love music as a child and it has stayed with me." 
His parents, Antonio Sr. and Carlota Rios, still live in Defiance. 
Rios couldn't wait to get out of Defiance and explore life in the big city, he says. At age 18 he moved to Toledo. 

"My biggest challenge was getting through school and finding a job while adjusting to city life." 

He studied for a music degree but after two years changed majors and eventually earned his business degree. 

It was while he was shopping his CD around to different record companies that he was asked by Sony Music if Toledo had a local TV show dedicated to Latinos. The answer was no and that is what gave him the idea to start one up, he says. 

When he first started the show it was called "La Prensa Show." That lasted about a year. Then Rios took over as executive producer and held a contest to rename the show; the name chosen was "Voces Latinas." 

The show aired in Defiance, Lorain, Cleveland and Bowling Green for four to five years. After some format changes in 2003-04, he decided to keep the show in Toledo. 

He is once again looking forward to airing "Voces Latinas" in Defiance -- possibly starting next year.

Rios says that having his own TV studio and equipment to produce has been a major plus for the show. And he is always looking for ways to make the show more attractive for viewers. 

Ever since his Colombia-born wife, Maryori, came aboard, she has added a dose of sex appeal which has its benefits, he says. She is an attorney by profession, but has recently taken a more prominent role as the program's main hostess and assistant film editor. 

Maryori does the show completely in Spanish due to her very limited English. She is from Barranquilla (where Singer/Recordingi Artist Shakira & Sofía Vergara a Colombian actress, comedian, television hostess, and model are from). 

She and Rios first met at cybercupido. com and from there they began chatting online. At one point she invited him to Colombia to cover the Carnavales of Barranquilla, the second biggest carnival in the world next to Brazil. Tony said that if he went that she would have to be his guest host. She accepted and that is how they became more involved through their work. 

"Maryori had no prior experience being on camera or talking with a microphone. I didn't really have to teach her, she's a natural," he gushes about the exotic dark hair beauty. 

They have been married for two years. Tony has two children from a previous marriage: Nikayla, 22, and Sergio, 20.

Rios says if he had a few million dollars he would purchase a radio station himself. 

"It's sad that Toledo has no Latino radio station or even a show right now produced for the Latino community. We love our music and would love to be able to turn the radio on here and listen to one of our own local announcers speaking Spanish as well as playing our music." 

The last time Toledo had a locally produced radio program was in 2004 when Rios had a spot on 97.3 FM. (The show was dropped due to low number of advertisers.)

He is hoping to make a comeback with a new radio show called LatinoMix, provided he can generate the sponsors/advertisers needed. 

"Radio and TV are businesses that are very powerful in reaching audiences. We learn so much through what we listen to and see." 

Rios likes to keep up on the latest technology and showcase all that the show has to offer by way of his website, www. voceslatinas. com. 

He also produces weddings and quinceaneras for clients and deejays for weddings, quinceaneras and night clubs. 

"I love to work and keep busy. It has brought a lot of joy into my life and has taught me a lot about life in general," he says. 

"Whenever I get the chance I like to sit down and just meditate and look at life change right before his eyes," says Rios, making reference to his 3-year-old grandson, Oscar.