Augusto Saenz, clutching a camera, weaved expertly through the crowded room snapping photographs for the Distinguished Hispanic Awards Gala. He kindly introduced himself to me during a moment of respite. His business, Augusto Saenz Photography, provides portraits for Who’s Who Latino Columbus and professional photographs for quinceañeras, weddings, and other social events throughout the Latino community. He also founded Canal Hispano TV, an online station dedicated to the Spanish-Speaking population of Columbus. This is the only locally-based Spanish-Speaking station in the city; and is both a testament to Saenz’s perseverance and representative of an actual need for a media outlet in the Latino community.
Canal Hispano TV is a window into the lives of the Spanish-Speaking community [or as their tagline reads “Una Ventana A Tu Comunidad”]. For the past two years, the station’s covered myriad topics ranging from health care to music, and sports to politics. The programming builds awareness of the surrounding resources and notifies viewers of upcoming cultural events that take place throughout Columbus. In addition to their website, the Canal Hispano launched a mobile app which boasts at least 1,000 downloads – proof that the growing Latino community appreciates this small station.
Saenz graduated from The National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico City, Mexico with a degree in graphic design. After moving to Columbus in 2002, these artistic and technical skills came in handy as Saenz sought to assist Latino entrepreneurs who needed help designing logos, menus, websites, and advertisements. While helping these businesses, Saenz noticed a need for a network to connect businesses, cultural centers, and social events. He created an answer to this need by founding Canal Hispano TV. Saenz and I met in the station’s studio off of Bethel Road, where he showed me the set for the program Arriba Columbus and his editing space. His tenacity and ingenuity struck me during our conversation on Columbus, community, and media:
Realizing a dream in Columbus:
🎧 Listen (2:25)
“It’s been a great experience to be here, trying to reach that dream most of us come with… I started with a regular job, but I decided I wanted to do my own thing… and then just a couple of years ago, I started this online TV channel.”
The comforts of relating linguistically and culturally:
🎧 Listen (1:52)
“Probably 20 years ago it was really rare to see a Latino. If they saw each other at a store, they would identify themselves, say ‘ Hey! Hello! Where are you from?!’ If they were from the same country, even better! People were really happy to see anybody who speaks Spanish.”
Providing a window into a very diverse Latino community:
🎧 Listen (3:08)
“It’s hard to put it [the Latino community] into one word or one stereotype… not only do they work doing landscaping or as dishwasher or cook, but I’ve met Latinos in all aspects and areas, even the government.”
“‘Una Ventana A Tu Comunidad.’ It’s like a window to the community where you can peek in and see… We are trying to connect the community with what is around here in Columbus.”