HUGO BALTA: One Nación, Under Sports

By Lilian Pena | March 2016

ESPN’s One Nación greets you with the tag line, “¡Welcome, Amigos! For everyone who loves to watch, listen and read sports in English and en Español.” One Nación is a bilingual online hub that features athletes of every aspect of Latin culture – a real reflection of its fan following.

The stories and stats come to your big and small screens, by the leadership of game-changer, Hugo Balta, Senior Director of Multicultural Content at ESPN. He leads his team to deliver a bilingual message highlighting Latino culture through the lives of athletes.

His calm demeanor and confident presence resemble a respected coach giving a locker room pep talk. “Whether it’s tackling being bicultural, striving for the same resources as others, pioneering or overcoming social pressures, One Nación seeks to share the depth of all Latinos by telling their stories candidly, authentically,” states Balta.

From the get go, One Nación proved to be different from other sport shows. One Nación started as a bilingual collaborative production between ESPN and ESPN Deportes created specifically for Hispanic Heritage Month three years ago. It focused on celebrating Latino history and culture in sports and allowed guests to express themselves in the language they felt most comfortable speaking. The biggest gamble at the time was to broadcast this bilingual show in both networks instead of producing English and Spanish versions. The gamble paid off. One Nación became a huge success from day one.

hugo2-2Under his leadership, One Nación has featured greats like Nancy Lopez (golf), German Quiroga (auto racing), Victor Cruz (football), Sergio Romo (baseball), Rafael Nadal (tennis), Cristiano Ronaldo (soccer), Julio Cesar Chavez (boxing), and thousands of others. Recently, One Nación’s Sunday evening program aired a story on MLB teams and how players’ unions were working to have Spanish-language interpreters in the dugout to help the players communicate with media in their native language. Realizing the challenges of being in a new country, Hugo wanted to convey content to show that higher education, becoming a home owner, and making informed decisions was all within reach.

Balta’s influence expands well beyond the studios of ESPN. He advocates for community and Latinos in many aspects. From August 2012 to August 2014, he served as President of the NAHJ. He works with Alex Nogales, President/CEO of National Hispanic Media Coalition, in programming their conferences and speak to large corporations to promote diversity. He is participating in Hispanicize Florida on a digital platform project. He is involved in ENLACE, the Electronic Network for Latin American Careers and Employment. In addition, he co-founded Latino Multimedia Communicators (LMC), a public social media group, inclusive of common fields, not just journalists.

hugo3There is no difference in the connections he creates, he says, “I am doing for others what others did for me, through organizations, through students, through veterans in their career, middle-management, from Los Angeles to Washington D.C. to Florida. I work with Blacks, Asians, LGBT, any community, regardless of ethnicity, sexual orientation, and anyone who seeks me out.”

His vision is to continue advancing diversity and inclusion in media by “inspiring other generations to have a passion, history and cultural ties, to instill in them the responsibility to [be] a voice that often doesn’t have these champions to tell those stories, of people that had the courage to bust through those doors to be pioneers. If we don’t stand up, these stories will become lost. We need to stand up, not just for yourself, but for others and the community.”

If you’d like to continue the conversation, follow him @HugoBalta and on Facebook, you can also ‘Like’ Latino Multimedia Communicators. His own site is www.hugobalta.com and he is a member of our LAM Network.