"Mic check: 1 ... 2 ... 3," Myra Rosario says into the mic clipped onto the collar of her blue-and-white summer dress. Seated on the stage in Studio B at WKYC, she is preparing for an interview of a local non-profit for her show, Yo Soy Latino Cleveland. The guest is late and there is nothing anyone can do about it. Rosario steps off of the stage and leaves the room in search of the producer. She returns, but leaves the room again briefly to get some air. Every time the heavy, soundproof door opens, the anxious crew glances in its direction. Nervous glances give way to relief when the guest finally walks in. After a brief prep for the interview, they take their seats and the production assistant begins the countdown to taping. "5, 4, 3, 2, and ..."
Rosario is a natural in front of the camera, but initially didn't want to be the host of her show.
After being selected for a Civic Innovation Lab grant in 2010, and having already done consulting, promoting, writing, sales and running her website, LatinoCleveland.com, she figured one of the best ways to get her message out and actually connect with the community would be a TV show. Now, she's the brain, heart and face of the operation.
"It's the first Hispanic American show dedicated to the local Hispanic community on a network station in the country," Rosario says. "Not only is it owned by a Latina — I'm the sole owner — I might be the only Latina who owns a show on a network station."
Her story is an immigrant's story — a wholly American story.
Rosario began on the street level, promoting events by passing out fliers in the city's westside Hispanic community where she grew up. The daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants who did not speak English when they arrived, and raised by a single mother, Rosario has taken serious risks and undertaken serious responsibility for herself, her family, and for her community. "You deal with some serious lows as an entrepreneur," she says.
Despite the trials of getting a media, promotional and consulting company off the ground, the entrepreneur has received a warm Cleveland welcome. "People have given me a chance," she says in reflection.
Seventy to 80 percent of her show is presented in English, and the rest in Spanish. All guests are local and Latino. It's for them she has created this platform. And every week at 12:30 p.m. on Friday, the show and her guests are seen across Cleveland on Channel 3. (The shows can also be found on her website.)
Rosario's vision is to be an envoy from the Hispanic community and a teacher in the non-Hispanic community. "Yo Soy Latino Cleveland and LatinoCleveland.com should be a destination for non-Latinos to know all the Latino nonprofits, organizations, doctors, accountants, what's happening in Hispanic communities, what's going on."
With her culture lies her passion.
"I know that I can never give this up," she says. "I didn't give all this blood, sweat, tears, time and sacrifices in relationships — all this stuff — for no reason. Ain't no going back."