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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Originally published on January 23, 2004
Laura Hagan
Univision Radio National Sales

Laura Hagan is President of Univision Radio National Sales, the largest Hispanic rep firm representing the largest Spanish-language broadcaster in the U.S., Univision Radio.

Hagan is a native of Quito, Ecuador and moved to the U.S. when she was quite young. Although she came here speaking no English, she knew even as a young girl that she had the strength, passion and dedication be a success in America, and she feels a great deal of gratitude for the opportunities presented to her here.

Getting into the business: “After high school and two years of business school, I went to Metromedia. I was an assistant to Dick Williams. We worked with Screen Gems. They bought a very small TV station, Channel 47 in New York, and didn’t know what to do with it. It was a Hispanic station that is now Telemundo. Norm Lovau, who was in charge of TV at Metromedia, asked me to go there and help a young man, Carlos Barba. I did, but a year later I got pregnant and stayed home for 10 years.

“I came back and went to work for WADO/New York as an account executive. At that time we didn’t have a national rep. After a couple of years Mac Tichenor wanted to buy WADO. They wanted a rep, so they went to Katz and said they wanted to open a rep company. Mac had already gotten to know me a little, because I handled a lot of the big agencies. They kept seeing my name on contracts, so Katz called me and said they’d like me to join them and open the rep house. I said, ‘No, thank you; I’m very happy where I am,’ but after three or four meetings I decided to join them.

“I stayed for three years, and then I started with Katz Hispanic Media as an account executive. I was promoted to New York Sales Manager, but I left in 1991 because I had the opportunity to be the GSM for CBS. In ’93 I went to work for Univision as VP/New Business Development. At the time Univision was not in radio, only TV. I came back to Katz, because radio has always been my passion. I came back in 1994 as VP/Sales. In 1998 they made me Executive VP, and I’ve been President since 1999.”

Mission of the company: “The goal was to have a competitive rep in the industry. It all began in 1987, when Katz Hispanic opened. We focused on the tremendous growth of the Hispanic market and, of course, the importance of Spanish-language radio. We saw the importance, but the marketplace took it one step at a time. There was not the eagerness and the knowledge that there is today. All the data that we have today was not there in the beginning. We already knew the population was growing and that Hispanic radio would lead us to new horizons. We focused on expanding our presence, acquiring new stations and growing our market share.

“I’m very proud to have been part of KRG. Univision Sales is a division of KRG. We’ve always enjoyed the privileges of our sister companies, due to Stu Olds. Whatever the big companies had, we always had. I have strived to assure our sellers that they have the best tools. What makes us different from the other companies and the other Hispanic reps are the tools we have and our wonderful research division. Research is everything in our business.

“Our biggest asset, though, has always been our people. The commitment, passion and pride we have have made the difference in this company. Our people have been with us for our greatest successes and achievements. Through all the years of blood, sweat and tears, there have been trust, mutual support and laughter. We’ve had the friendship and respect of all our people, and this includes our wonderful friends at the radio stations and the agencies. It’s been my model to always have respect for everybody. For me, there are three things that are nonnegotiable: respect, taking care of our people and communication.”

Biggest challenge: “Getting our fair share of the pie. Hispanics comprise the biggest minority in the country, with almost 40 million people. That’s 13% of the U.S. population. Their buying power is also incredible: $650 billion. One of the greatest sorrows I have, and we’re trying to break through it, is that America’s leading advertisers allocate only 2% of their advertising budgets to target Hispanics. My biggest challenge is to pass the word and to meet with big advertisers to tell them about the power of the Hispanic market.”

Opportunity for growth: “Today everyone is eager to get involved with the Hispanic market. I tell people, ‘If you need revenue, to move your product, new customers and new venues for your product, you have to look at the power of Hispanic radio.’ It’s still very hard to penetrate. There’s still a bias. We have to work very hard to make sure we go to the client and tell them about the power of the market and what a difference it’s going to make for them. With all the great things we see, we still have to push it; we still have to go and see them and present very hard on every level.”

State of the industry: “According to all the trades and the gurus of the industry, radio is going to show between 6% and 6.5% growth. The Hispanic market expects double digits. A thing that concerns me is that Hispanics in broadcasting don’t have job opportunities. The press said there are only 1,000 jobs available this month. I would like to see those opportunities increase. It’s important for the market and it’s important for our economy that our people are working. I see the industry as being healthy. It’s a political year and it’s an Olympic year. Those revenues are going to help us. A challenge I have today is the political dollars. We have to look at every single venue. The agencies are where all the political parties and revenue are, Republican and Democrat.”

Biggest difference between representing the general market and the Hispanic market:
“The rep does the same thing. The difference is that, although it’s growing — we started with about 200 stations, and now we have over 700 Hispanic outlets — we have to get agencies and advertisers to understand the power of Hispanic TV and radio. We had to build budgets; we didn’t have them before. Now we do have budgets, and our challenge is to grow those budgets for the Hispanic market. That’s the difference.”

How’s business: “It’s good. I’m very happy because we made and overachieved our budget. It was an awful lot of work, but it was good. We have incredible attrition. We have to make sure that we make up for that. We’re focusing on our budgets for this year. Not only do we have to make the Katz budget, I also have to make the HBC and Univision budgets. We have to make the budgets for the non-Univision stations we have too.

“In 1987 we started with five radio stations. Today we represent almost 100 stations in 40 markets. We have expanded from three offices with teams of four or five sellers to eight offices. We’re in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, San Antonio, San Francisco and New York with 23 sellers in the street. We have experienced incredible growth and are looking forward to meeting all future expectations as well. I’m most proud of the partnership with Univision. We’ve worked together with mutual support and respect. What we are today, we could not have been without them.”

Most influential individual: “Stu Olds, for his devotion and the support he’s given us for the 17 years we’ve been here. The Hispanic division has never been any different to Stu than all his other companies. Also Mac Tichenor. I praise Mac not only for his support in the business, but also his friendship to me. And David Lykes. He was the COO of HBC; he retired about three years ago. And I have to thank Gary Stone, the present COO of Univision Radio.”

Career highlight: “My people and Miami. Opening the Miami office was such a sacrifice. I was there for three years, Monday through Friday, then went home every weekend to my husband and two children. From zero billing, today that office is one of our biggest. All that we are stems from teamwork. When I mention my success, it’s the success of my people. It’s been realized through the teams I’ve had with me. I’ve had people who have worked with me many years. Ed D’Abate has been with me from the very beginning. A lot of the managers have worked here many years; they don’t leave us. That’s a tribute to them and their devotion and loyalty to the company and to me.”

Career disappointment: “There are ups and downs all the time. I’ve talked about the rosy aspects of my career, but it’s been hard to break through sometimes. Being a Spanish woman has both helped me and not helped me. This company has been built with a lot of sacrifice and hard work, a lot of tenacity, and a drive not to be discouraged and to keep on striving in spite of hardships. I only focus on the good things. Otherwise, I don’t think I would have made it through all those years.”

Favorite radio format: “Spanish AC.”

Favorite song: “‘Somewhere in Time.’”

Favorite television show: “I love the Discovery Channel, I Love Lucy and The Golden Girls.”

Favorite book: “The last one I read was The Da Vinci Code. I love Hemingway because of his sense of adventure.”

Favorite movie: “The Bridges of Madison County. I love all of the James Bond movies.”

Favorite restaurant: “La Biola in Cedarhurst, NY. Every Friday I go there with my family. It’s friendship and wonderful food.”

Beverage of choice: “White wine.”

Hobbies: “I love gardening. I have a very small garden, but I spend a lot of time in it. I also live on the beach, and that’s my greatest joy, walking there very early or very late.”

E-mail address: “”

Advice for broadcasters: “Keep increasing our share. That’s our goal. Always remember the responsibility we have to our community. Radio is community. Radio is local. Thus, we have to defend the communities’ rights and cover the issues in our local markets. Managers should get involved with their people and know their communities to make sure they know what makes them tick. Know your political leaders, and know if they’re doing right by the people.”

Advice for Hispanic broadcasters: “Stick to your roots: music and artists. Continue to grow our piece of the pie and preach the word of Hispanic media and the incredible growth of our markets, big and small.”