Her Business Is the Latino Business World

Maria-Dubraska Pineda has formidable credentials and numerous careers, but she is focusing right now on getting the word out to the community.

Maria-Dubraska Pineda pinched her fingers together and stretched out her arm, as though dangling a photograph. She said this is the way the media looks at Latino business people.

"We only showcase them sometimes as an example," she said. "These people are hidden, the movers and shakers in the Hispanic community."

Pineda, who runs a Newport Beach-based company that plots marketing strategies for businesses, is the producer of a new daily talk show on Spanish-language KVEA, Channel 52. The half-hour show on Latino business and culture began last Monday. Its topics have included opportunities for Latino businesses in the European Community, the proposed free-trade agreement with Mexico, Latina business owners and Mexican art.

" Lo Que Pasa en El Mundo "--What's Happening in the World--is the first show of its kind, according to Pineda. It reaches viewers in seven counties, including Orange and Los Angeles.

Pineda, 37, said she will try to sell the program to a national television network in January, after it has made a 13-week run on the local channel. Glendale-based Channel 52 broadcasts news, movies and other programs in Spanish to an estimated 619,000 Southland households.

Trained in journalism as well as business, Pineda hosted a 1970s talk show in her native Venezuela that focused on international business issues. For " Lo Que Pasa ," she and up to four guests are seated at a breakfast table, and a visiting journalist is invited to ask questions. The show airs at 6 a.m. weekdays to appeal to those getting ready for work.

"The goal is to create a network of people, to provide information, to generate recognition in the market for Hispanic professionals and business people," she said.

Another Orange County entrepreneur sees economic potential in broadcasting to the Latino market. Orange County Broadcasting Corp. will begin airing the nation's first 24-hour, Spanish-language, all-news radio station in a few weeks on KPLS-AM. Based in Orange, the new station will feature news, talk shows, sports and other reports.

And a second television business program, "Entrepreneur Express," is scheduled to begin in November. The monthly panel discussions are intended to give concrete, how-to information for people who run small businesses. The English-language program will be sponsored by the Orange County chapter of the National Assn. of Women Business Owners.

"The recession has really hurt small-business owners," said association member Bonni McCrea. She is the co-owner of RTM Co. of Anaheim, the video-production company that is producing "Entrepreneur Express."

The series will be offered to public access channels on cable TV stations in Orange, Los Angeles and San Diego counties, McCrea said, which means negotiating with about 45 different stations and cities.

She said the goal of the series is very similar to Pineda's program: to offer information and bring together small-business people.

"As a small-business owner, how do you meet your peer group and talk about problems that are common to each of you?" McCrea asked.

The initial episode of "Entrepreneur Express" will cost $4,000; future shows will cost $2,000 each. About 10 are planned.

Pineda would not reveal the production costs of her show. She said her advertisers include La Opinion, members of the Latin Business Assn. and International Marketing Media, which is her own consulting company.

Pineda came to Southern California six years ago from Venezuela to work as director of international marketing for ICN Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Costa Mesa. She noticed that Latino business professionals were missing a lot of information.

"At every single meeting, people were asking each other, 'Do you know about this? How can I find that person?' " she said, adding that many people had conflicting information.

She left ICN a year ago, formed her own company and began working as a part-time assignment editor for Channel 52 news.

Pineda's credentials are extensive enough to fill several business cards: diplomat in charge of cultural affairs in the Venezuelan embassies in Mexico City and Moscow; painter who has exhibited in several countries; former Miss Venezuela and Miss Caribbean; newspaper columnist; television commentator and talk show host.

"It sounds like a lot when you tell it, but actually each thing nurtures the other," she said. "I couldn't do it differently."

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