The couple’s Voces Latinas TV show is nearing two decades on the air, currently showing on Buckeye Cablesystem Channel 69 every Thursday at 8p.m. and Saturdays at 7 p.m. Rios and his wife also resumed the El Lobo Radio Show last year, which now airs Sunday evenings on 107.7 FM The Wolf.
The couple just bought a building in the Broadway Corridor to house their radio and TV studios, which puts them right in the heart of much of Toledo’s Latino community. The building is located 1226 Broadway, right across the street from the Sofia Qunitero Art and Cultural Center FLOC, as well as next-door to Nueva Esperanza Community Credit Union.
“I really had no plans on expanding my TV and radio show. I was pretty much satisfied with the way things have been going, but once again my wife Maryori has been the one to push me to expand and move into a building,” explained Rios. “She hooked up with Maria Rodriguez - Winter and Maria saw our passion with what and who we are. We told Maria that we were in the market of possibly purchasing a building to house our studios. Maria made us an offer we couldn't refuse.”
The new home of Tony Rios Enterprises (TRE, INC) also affords the couple more room to keep expanding into new technologies. TRE recently launched a smartphone app known as Caliente and revamped its website.
“It means a lot to us to be now on the Broadway Corridor alongside other Latino-owned businesses,” said Rios. “This is all new to us and, of course, scary to do something like this:
but we are confident that we will be OK and grow our business to become more successful and most importantly, be able to help our Latino community at-large and be more available to them. It's going to take a lot of work. We have a lot of ideas on our expansion and look forward to this challenge.”
Rios stated Caliente takes advantage of a growing trend locally and nationally. First, a survey last year by www.themediaaudit.com ranked Toledo the number one market Sirius XM satellite subscribers. Next, Rios pointed out that 50 percent of people nationwide have smart phones, a figure the Pew Research Center projects will climb to 80 percent of Americans by 2015.
Rios further explained that 42 percent of Americans regularly listen to Internet radio— and such online listening increased 222 percent in 2011 alone. That’s also a large, relatively untapped advertising market which already has increased by nearly 150 percent.
“The App world is our newest and biggest change. We are jumping on a concept sweeping larger U.S. cities like Dallas and Los Angeles, but has yet to make its way to medium-size markets like Toledo,” Rios explained. “The concept is simple: local programming you would traditionally find on your radio dial is now on your smart phone. It is a new medium we refer to it as Mobile Device Medium. Toledoans are starving for compelling local content”.
Rios also explained the expanded technological opportunities allow him to share Latino music and culture to a wider audience—and keep it alive and well. He tries to appeal to Latinos of all origins, as well as all generations with his offerings.
“I am very proud to be Latino and love our culture, as well as other Latino cultures. I love speaking Spanish and Spanglish as much as possible everywhere I go. I think the music would continue, but not as how I present it,” he said. “My style is Latino in general, playing all styles that include Mariachi, Hip Hop, Reggaeton, Chacha, Salsa, Merengue, Bachata, Pop, and
International-- which is why I call all this LatinoMix, the same as my TV show Voces Latinas, or "Latin Voices." I love to include all Latino cultures. If I didn't do what I do, then there would be no diversity and all you would here is just plain old Tejano, which is not liked by everybody. I try to play music that is loved by all cultures besides just Mexican/Tejano music.”
While technological trends and rapid changes can prove to be a challenge to keep ahead of the audience, Rios admitted he thrives on that challenge because it keeps him excited and focused on the future.
“Technology plays a very big part in my company and the fact that I love technology fits right with me. It just never stops,” Rios said. “Websites are constantly changing. You have to find ways to be creative as well as attractive to keep people visiting.”
As if he’s not busy enough, Rios continues to DJ on the weekends. He frequently can be found at the Cinco de Mayo restaurant and bar on Central Ave., filling the dance floor with fans.
So which medium does he enjoy the most?
“I'd have to say I love being on the radio the best! (It’s) less pressure, (you) don't have to worry how you look or anyone watching you. It's just you, and as long as you relax, you’re able to be yourself,” Rios said. “Don't get me wrong, I love doing TV as well as DJ’ing and getting people on the dance floor. But doing radio and being able to reach a mass of people from all walks of life is just so fascinating.”
Rios only continues to get busier, but has maintained a 17-year career at Toledo Jeep along the way. He currently works in the finals processing department as an absenteeism replacement. He explained he is basically torqueing Jeeps in the chassis department right now.
Time management and a strong work ethic are important to be able to maintain the demanding schedule Rios and his wife have. But Rios takes none of the credit for that.
“It's really simple, I love to work and thanks to my parents for instilling this into me. Of course, coming from a large family of six children, things were a little tight,” he admitted. “I basically just enjoy staying busy and love everything that I do: producing TV and radio & DJ’ing on the
Rios gives the other half of the credit to his wife.
“Maryori is the driving force of TRE, INC. She is the one who maintains our website and image. She is so creative. She is constantly on me to keep up with the changes. Being that her English is limited, I help her to the best of my ability,” he said. “She serves as hostess when needed for Voces Latinas and DJ's with me on Caliente. She does translations and now serves as
President/CEO of TRE, INC, due to my very busy and& demanding schedule of being blue-collar by day and white-collar by afternoon. She is the backbone of TRE, INC.”
While calling his entertainment business “a second career,” Rios has a background as a professional musician. He started playing professionally in 1980, covering a lot of ground in Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana. He stated he learned a lot from Eddie Olivo in his first band, which performed a lot in Defiance and Fort Wayne.
“I have been so blessed in so many ways. Believe it or not, I was pretty shy growing up. I went to the University of Toledo in 1981 to study musicand began playing in the UT Symphony and Jazz Band,” he recalled. “I finally switched my major to business and applied everything I learned, as well as my professional musical career experiences.”
While he does enjoy occasional quiet time at home and traveling with his wife whenever he “gets the chance,” Rios admitted his endeavors don’t leave a lot of room for a personal life.
“I really love what I do and just can't help it. I'm dedicated to this and now am starting to see all the fruits come to reality. It's been a long path,” Rios said. “There have been times when I was ready to give it all up and just live a normal life. More doors keep opening and makes it very hard to turn the opportunities down. It has been very profitable and our goal is to keep it going so we can continue to help our Latino community at-large with services they can take advantage of by showcasing them on our broadcasting mediums.”
But the success Tony Rios Enterprises is enjoying now did take its toll over the years. Rios admitted it was “sad” that he missed out on his children growing up as a result.
“But (I) need them to understand I did what I did for them, so they could always have whatever they wanted. As parents we always want the best for our children,” Rios said. “I now have two grandchildren who I absolutely adore and my wife and I now are trying to spend as much quality time as we possibly can. It is difficult and we have to find a way to make this happen. This is so
very important. So having a personal life definitely has to be taken seriously.”
Rios admitted he “needs help with this” area of his life, but doesn’t intend to slow down anytime soon, because professional success continues to bless his life.
“It's the people that keep me motivated. As long as I am in demand, I will keep doing what I do: bring joy to peoples lives. I love it!” he said with enthusiasm. “The music has a way of also keeping me motivated, as well as the money now coming in.”