Pictured above, from left to right: WFTV Channel 9 anchors Nancy Alvarez, Jorge Estevez, and Gonzalo Ravelo.
Like most writers, Gonzalo Ravelo feels most comfortable behind a keyboard. But just as he was graduating from Full Sail’s Creative Writing for Entertainment bachelor’s degree program, he was presented with a career opportunity that put him on the other side of the camera – anchoring a weekly news segment on Orlando’s Mega TV, a station partnered with Orlando’s ABC affiliate, WFTV Channel 9.
“Career Development sent me a job lead for the station,” Gonzalo says. “They needed someone to translate stories from English to Spanish. I liked the environment and started off just writing and translating.”
As an international student from Venezuela, Gonzalo’s bilingual skills were a valuable asset that helped him get his foot in the door – but he had no clue that would lead him to his current position. Mega TV only had two news anchors for their Spanish newscast (Nancy Alvarez and Jorge Estevez), and their busy schedule over on Channel 9 created a need for a third on-air personality to act as a backup. That role eventually led to its own regular position every Friday night.
“I never, never thought I was going to be in front of a camera,” he says. “When I was asked to do it, I felt like it was kind of weird but I said yes immediately. The next morning I shaved my beard, and started a month-long coaching process.”
After learning the basics from his coanchors about voice projection, wardrobe, posture, and overall fundamentals of broadcast, Gonzalo was given the green light – and for someone who had never had any aspirations to speak on television, it certainly took some getting used to.
“When I did my first practice shoot, I wasn’t nervous at all, and everyone said that I nailed it,” he says. “That all changed during my first broadcast. You get extremely nervous when you hear the countdown in your earpiece. I just took a deep breath, read from the teleprompter, and kept going till I could say ‘buenas noches.’ I may get used to it at some point, but it’s still pretty nerve-racking for me.”
Nerve-racking is one way to describe the world of broadcast news. Gonzalo’s day typically begins with him reviewing an English rundown of news reports and selecting three stories for the Mega TV broadcast. He then translates them to Spanish for a radio broadcast that occurs earlier in the day. Afterwards, he creates a rundown for the Spanish newscast, often rewriting them for television before sending them to his fellow newscasters for rehearsal – or rehearsing them himself on the nights he appears on camera.
“Sometimes we’re about to do a show, and five minutes before we go on-air there’s breaking news,” he says. “In those cases, I have to run to make changes to the script at the very last minute. It can get pretty crazy.”
Gonzalo enrolled in the Creative Writing program with the goal of becoming a published novelist. And while his role at Mega TV has pointed him in a different direction, he’s found that a lot of what he learned at Full Sail can still be implemented into his news writing.
“The writing that I do is not creative, but I use a lot of what I learned in the program at Full Sail in what I do every day for the news station. I remember I had an instructor who was constantly removing the word ‘that’ from my writing. He would always tell me I didn’t need it, and I felt like he was murdering my work,” he says. “But now that I’m in this environment, I’ve realized how important it is to be concise. Keeping things as short as possible is important, especially for broadcast.”
While Gonzalo is currently working on translating a book that is going to be published next year, he doesn’t necessarily see himself leaving the world of broadcast anytime soon.
“I really like it all. I’ve been doing writing, producing, and anchoring. I’m definitely getting more comfortable with being on camera,” he says. “It’s funny – I’ll often pick the craziest kinds of stories for our broadcast. Stories about gruesome crimes and bizarre characters, and my co-anchors always get on my case. ‘Why do you pick those? These stories are insane!’ I don’t know. I guess it’s because I’m a writer and I like craziness.”