Editor’s note: During Hispanic Heritage Month, the Tyler Morning Telegraph is highlighting Hispanics making a difference in our community.
A man in a room inside his home, with one camera, a laptop, a green screen and the mission to inform East Texas residents in Spanish, Orlando Rodriguez does it all on his own time for his viewers. Even through losing his parents in the pandemic, Rodriguez continues to inform the East Texas Hispanic community.
Informativo TX Oficial, which means Informative Texas Official, a Facebook page with a following of more than 7,700 people, is an online platform Rodriguez runs as a Spanish media outlet for news. The page was established in 2006 and since then has aimed to inform the Hispanic population in the region.
Throughout the page are a history of Facebook Lives, where Rodriguez tunes in weeknights at an exact time. During the week at 9 p.m., Rodriguez reports from his humble setup. From crime and traffic news to vaccine clinics, Rodriguez has been able to obtain sponsored content from local East Texas businesses, such as restaurants, grocery stores and more locally owned businesses.
Sitting at a desk, Rodriguez narrates and summarizes local headlines and communicates them on Facebook Live behind a green screen. Behind him, a photo of downtown Tyler. On average, 200 people tune in every night and he sees an audience reach of about 1,500 to 2,000 people per video. Most of them only speak Spanish and look forward to hearing the livestream to hear what’s the latest news.
Currently, Rodriguez’s outreach is about 20,000 people in one single video when shared to the 20 local Facebook groups for consignment in Spanish. Over the time, he’s gained loyal viewers who always watch his livestreams at 9 p.m.
Getting started was no easy feat. He had to learn how to use different programs for his broadcasts. However, Rodriguez’s motivation in finding news to inform in Spanish comes from his background. He was born and raised in Mexico, but often visited Texas as a child. When he graduated from high school in Mexico, he pursued communications in college at the Autonomous University of San Luis Potosi. After he graduated, he worked as a journalist for a few years before relocating his family to East Texas.
When he arrived, there were many opportunities in Spanish news. Though he was first an elementary teacher in East Texas, he went on to work in radio at La Invasora 96.7, a Spanish station, and soon, became executive director of his own segment. He also worked in television simultaneously with radio from 2009 to 2011, and recently began working with a station in Shreveport, Louisiana. He has managed to keep his website, Informativo TX Oficial running consistently while pursuing his own sponsors and producing video packages to advertise in his livestreams.
A growing Hispanic population in the area contributes to Rodriguez’s growing audience. His channel has been mostly successful in the audiences that cannot read Spanish or may not have the time to read Spanish news.
“First it was a website, then a magazine, then a radio station, Informativos TX is like a banner name, but it could be anything,” Rodriguez said about the future of the outlet. He added he would like to return to work in television.
Rodriguez said he often gets messages of gratitude for what he does from viewers. He said he’s more grateful for them.
Recently, Rodriguez lost his parents due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through his loss, he has continued to be a consistent media outlet for Spanish listeners.
Online, comments thank Rodriguez for his dedication to informing.
“Thank you for having us up to date about East Texas news,” reads one comment. Another, “Thank you Mr. Orlando, this channel is great.”