Unless you watch Spanish-language TV, Univision's Jorge Ramos is the probably the most famous TV news anchorman you've never heard of. "It's like being invisible," says Ramos, whose newscast, Noticiero Univision, draws 2 million viewers nightly. "Other than appealing to the 55 million Latinos, sometimes we are in a parallel world in which people are not even aware we exist."
That may not be the case for long. The charismatic Mexican-born broadcast journalist is making his English-language debut as anchor of America With Jorge Ramos (weeknights 8/7c) — the signature primetime program on Fusion, the new cable news joint venture of Univision and ABC launching Oct. 28. Ramos appreciates Fusion's goal of targeting Millennials as well as Hispanics. He has two children, aged 15 and 26, neither of whom watch Spanish language TV even though they grew up in immigrant homes and have a connection to Latin America. They're indicative of the growing number of Hispanics who are born in the U.S. and choose to speak English. "If Univision doesn't try to get that audience, somebody else will," says Ramos. We caught up with him recently.
TV Guide Magazine: You talk about feeling invisible, but you're a huge star in the Hispanic community and your influence was really apparent in the 2012 election. Hispanic voter turnout was high.
It's interesting that you say that because the White House, Congress, the mainstream media, the rest of America — they see us only before the elections and then they forget about us for three years. I call it the Christopher Columbus syndrome. They rediscover us every four years. Fusion is a fantastic opportunity because for the first time we can do what we do every single day and people will realize what it's all about.
TV Guide Magazine: President Obama and Governor Romney seemed almost taken aback at how aggressive you were when you interviewed them during the campaign.
That's the kind of interview we do all of the time. The reality is we had to take advantage of the opportunity to let them know what the Hispanic community really wanted. I had to confront President Obama on his promise. He had told me he was going to introduce immigration reform during his first term and clearly he didn't keep his word. And with Romney, he wanted the Hispanic vote and at the same time he was promoting deportation. It was like he was saying "Vote for me but I don't want you in this country." So we had to confront them on those issues. Immigration is not the most important issue for Latinos — it's education, the economy, health care and then immigration. But immigration, it's very emotional. A majority of Latinos are immigrants. It's personal for us.
TV Guide Magazine: Why is it personal for you?
It is personal for me on many fronts. Despite the fact that I've been in this country for more than 30 years, I'm still an immigrant, I still have an accent. When I go to Mexico they think I'm from the States and here they think I'm from another country. As an immigrant you're always looking for home.
TV Guide Magazine: Can you give us an example of what we'll see on your Fusion broadcast?
I just spoke with Sen. Harry Reid 15 minutes ago. On any other day, no one would have known what he told me because he'd be translated into Spanish, he'd be part of Univision's newscast and our Sunday political show. Nobody would know what he was saying. [On Fusion] he would make news all over the place because we'd have his first interview after the government shutdown. Nothing will get lost in translation. On Univision, we've been doing the exact same thing as any other network, but now we'll do it in English the same day. Also the immigrant perspective and Hispanic perspective gets lost on the major networks — you'll get that from us more. Our world is a little wider.
TV Guide Magazine: You've started to tweet bilingually.
It started since we knew were going to launch Fusion. It's interesting because the number of followers has increased rapidly. I'm going to get to 1 million very soon. People would complain when I tweeted something in English. Not anymore. People get that it's a different society — more diverse, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-racial.
TV Guide Magazine: Topical satire will be included in of the Fusion program line-up. Are you going to be involved in any of that?
I've never been accused of being funny. I'll stick with the news.