Members of the media, business and political communities mourned the death this week of Spanish-language media pioneer Walter Ulloa, CEO and founder of Entravision Communication Corp.
Ulloa died of a heart attack on New Year’s Eve at age 74, according to an Entravision statement issued Tuesday.
“It’s a great loss,” according to Tom Castro, founder and CEO of El Dorado Capital, who said he had a 35-year friendship with Ulloa. “He was really a role model and didn’t seek attention for everything he accomplished.”
Entravision said in a statement that Ulloa (pronounced oo-YO-ah), transformed the company from “a traditional multi-line Spanish-language company that currently owns and operates 100 national television and radio stations to a global digital media powerhouse with a that reaches 40 countries”.
“He built his company from scratch. He did not inherit anything,” Castro said.
The company said Ulloa co-founded Entravision in 1996, becoming its first president and chief executive officer.
Ulloa, who was Mexican-American, grew up in Brawley, in California’s Imperial Valley. when it was a segregated community. A graduate of the University of Southern California and Loyola Law School, he chose to begin his career at KMEX in Los Angeles, a Spanish-language station run by Danny Villanueva Jr., the founder of Univision. Ulloa worked as an operations manager, production manager, news director, sales manager, and executive director at the station before striking out on his own. As the station grew, “he grew with it, with Danny mentoring him,” Castro said.
Castro said that although Ulloa achieved a high level of commercial success, his “burning desire to better the community and serve the community never died.”
Ulloa had been discussing ways to work with Latino Media Network owners Stephanie Valencia and Jess Morales Rocketto, Castro said. The Federal Communications Commission had approved LMN’s purchase of 18 Univision-owned radio stations on December 15, Castro said.
Valencia and Morales Rocketto called Ulloa “a true pioneer in Latino media.”
“He saw the value and promise of the Latino media industry before many others. His lodestar was serving our community and he did… Walter’s commitment to this cause has been and will continue to be an inspiration to us” . they said in a statement.
Castro told the story of one time she received a call from a friend who ran a Latino nonprofit asking if she knew Ulloa, who had just donated $100,000 online, and she thought it was a mistake.
“I said, ‘Well, he’s very modest. He does things behind the scenes. He’s not looking for greatness. He has that kind of money and he’s very committed to the community,'” Castro said.
One of the people Ulloa endorsed was Rep. Raúl Ruiz, D-Calif. Castro said Ulloa had called him about Ruiz, who was in a 2012 race against the then-representative. Mary Bono Mack, Republican.
“I am heartbroken by the sudden passing of my friend, Walter Ulloa, a pioneer who has helped transform Spanish-language media,” Ruiz, the outgoing chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said in a tweet Tuesday.
According to Castro, Ulloa’s upbringing in the Imperial Valley, an agricultural and Latino area where he witnessed the conditions endured by farm workers, left a strong impression on him.
“The most successful Latino entrepreneurs, their commitment to social justice becomes less and less a part of their lives over time and in Walter’s case that never happened. That burning desire to better the community and serve the community, that never happened. died,” Castro said. .
Ulloa was a patron of the arts and had amassed one of the best collections of Chicano art in the world, Castro said. He bought unknown Chicano artists to support them so they could continue his work, Castro said.
He was appointed by then-President Barack Obama to serve on the board of trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC Ulloa also served on the board of trustees of the Los Angeles Music Center.