“El Show Del El Mandril”, hosted by Ricardo Sanchez, is back in LA in morning drive—and 40 other markets via a partnership with Mexican Broadcaster Grupo Radio Centro and its Regional Mexican “Radio Centro 93.9 FM” KXOS-FM Los Angeles. Sanchez, who has humble beginnings and quite a story to tell, also discusses his last days at SBS’s KLAX-FM LA, which ended on a bad note over failed contract negotiations. Now, he’s busy adding US stations under a brand new syndication deal with Premier/Clear Channel Radio Networks and very soon jumping the south border to expand into the Mexican Market.
You spent a couple of months on the sidelines at SBS after contract renewal negotiations with the company weren’t going so well. Yet, you showed up for work every day. How did you get through that difficult time, when you were #1 in the market?
At the beginning, it was very hard. It impacted me very hard after they told me just about the decision. They said. “You are going to go to the station, but you are not going to go to the studio. The only thing that you are going to be able to do is just go to your office and stay put there, while we decide what we are going to do with you.” That’s what I did. I went to the office and I stayed there and remained there with all my team.
Then, after a few days it was so incredible for me to believe that they could take that position. They remained paying me, but at the end of November I started feeling sick. I have diabetes. I started feeling depressed. It really affected me a great deal. It was bad for me. I tried to be strong. At the end, after it all, I got ill. When I went to the doctors, they noticed it immediately when they checked me out. My blood pressure was very high. I had to start taking medications. Even up to today, I am still under medical treatment.
I understand that there are a lot of options for syndication coming to the table. But, it looks like for right now, you are self-syndicating. Why did you decide to go that route?
I always been interested in expanding my show to different markets and reach across the country. We had to negotiate with SBS for a long time in order to get the rights to syndicate my show. Finally we did it. I spent my own money to build it. Lots of money. We got all the way to 40 markets. And then, Grupo Radio Centro came into the picture. You don’t know how happy I was to meet them and to get all their support. It’s amazing. They are huge in Mexico. And then, Premier/Clear Channel Radio Networks called us because they were also interested in syndicating my show in the USA. Are you kidding? Rush Limbaugh, Ryan Seacrest, and me, Mandril? What an honor.
How does it feel to “return home” by adding affiliates in Mexico?
I feel very good to be back on the air. Listening to the audience, they tell me that they were missing me. Many people tell me to go after the American Dream, and I have. This is fabulous in two ways. Now I can live the American Dream and I also have a chance to achieve the Mexican dream, because many people can only come to America to achieve the American Dream, but many Mexicans also want to become somewhat important and be known in Mexico too after they come here. This is happening to me.
Have you changed your show at all, knowing you are now airing in two countries?
At this very same moment, my show is still broadcast only in the States. But we are starting the process to open up some markets in Mexico. But I don’t foresee to make too many changes to my show in order to get into Mexico. Actually my show is a true reflection of our Mexican roots. I think people in Mexico are going to like it.
Tell us your story and a bit about striving for success. How do you identify with your audience?
One thing that I feel gives me the strength that I have is that I come from the borderline of the lowest socioeconomic demographics. I have been performing all sorts of awkward jobs. When I talk to my audience, I talk like them—because I have been performing jobs like a painter, a driver, a janitor. And those are the jobs that the people have to perform–must do–in order to survive. When they are hungry, they have to work in anything. Just like I had to do.
I’ve been living like this since I was 12 years old. That’s something that I have experienced because life had put me in a situation where I had to go around trying to survive. I learned a lot about different cultures in Mexico. So when I talk on the radio, they identify with my show because I am talking about things that they know.
Some people tell me, “Oh, you’ve had a really exciting life.” Well it is, but it’s essentially because I had to survive. I had to move around for jobs.
Right now I have a production company called Mandril Productions. I have seven people on the payroll for my show. So I need to invest in order to make a good show. If I invest and have good results, then I can re-invest. I have four kids, two of them work with me. The older one works in production, the other one is in charge of promotions and marketing. This is a popular show, but it is also a family-oriented show.
Tell us why your show is such a success.
You need to be in tune with the audience, to have the audience recommend you, and then you become like a “booster energy drink” for them. I have been an energy drink for my audience for the last eight years. For example, I went to an event and a man comes to me and tells me he’s losing his sight. He works in a factory and tells me 60 people there listen to my show. He says, “Now that I’m turning blind, they don’t allow me to work. Now they don’t miss me, but they miss the radio that I had there that enabled them to listen to my show. When I had the radio on, it was because I was the supervisor. But don’t worry, they have since requested from the owner to be able to use headphones.”
That’s one example of 60 people listening to me. I want to multiply that thousands of times more. The satisfaction that I get also comes from people on the street that approach me and say, “Finally I’ve found you again.” These are the stories that make me proud.
What are some of the funniest pranks or skits you’ve done in the history of your show?
There are the funny ones and the “real live” dramatic ones. In the funny side, I like the ones when a very famous singer forgets about his public image and becomes human, talking trash and saying things nobody ever had the opportunity to hear. Like the real person. They got very upset, lost control and went off telling me all sort of things with knowing they were talking to one of my characters that I do, changing my voice. In the dramatic ones, there was one where we helped to bring back from Spain the daughter of one of my listeners that was being kidnapped and living under slavery conditions.
Tell us about your audience—who are they?
My demographics, are the 18-49 men and women. What I have noticed is that much of my audience wishes to go back to their country to visit their parents, their brothers, their families. They have a lot of problems like everybody does, but somehow while they are listening to us they are able to forget about their problems.
What’s next for you and the show?
We are going to keep working hard. I hope that hard work it will allow us to go back to the #1 position. But of the utmost importance for me is to turn that success into a positive effort to help out our community. I have a non-profit organization in Los Angeles for three years now. I fund 90% of it with my own funds. Our focus is to help single mothers providing them with food and any kind of help they need and we can provide. I am a religious person, I am a believer. My point is I want to give back some of what God has given to us. That non-profit foundation is managed by my wife and two more people. One of them is my younger daughter. This is something that actually complements my duty as a radio announcer.