Born in Cuba and educated in Canada, Ismael Cala considers Larry King to be a model of broadcasting excellence. So it was extra special for the host of Cala, a one-hour talk show airing weekdays at 9 p.m. on CNN en Español and Channel 63’s new nightly SoCal block CNN Latino, to have King as his first guest during last week’s LA visit. That conversation is set to air Monday March 25.
“I have a very special connection with Larry,” Cala tells FishbowlLA. “When I first talked to management at CNN about starting Cala [launched in November of 2010], we always referred back to him. For me, doing the interview was kind of like a master class because we talked about how to listen, how to be a great communicator. Things that not only apply for a journalist but can also be applied in real life, for everybody.”
The King interview was conducted in English and is being dubbed into Spanish by CNN en Español staff. Although Cala is sometimes dubbed by others for these types of translated broadcasts, in the case King and the other LA shows, Cala – as he also often does- is dubbing himself.
Cala’s recent trip to LA was not the first time he has interviewed King. That happened for his upcoming book El Poder de Escuchar (The Power of Listening), due to be published in September by Penguin in Spanish. There is an exclusive interview with King as well as another with Guinness talk show record-holder Don Francisco, host of Sábado Gigante on Univision. “The book is all about the importance of listening to one’s heart, one’s interior voice, one’s parents…” the author teases.
Cala, who made his first five-episode trip to LA in January, says he hopes to continue coming out to the west coast in this fashion every few months. Other guests last Thursday and Friday included Mexican actress and singer Graciela Bertran, the now cancer-free Puerto Rican singer-composer Robi Draco Rosa (co-writer of “Living La Vida Loca”), Cuban-American actor Oscar Torre (The Hangover Part III) and labor organizer (and Democratic National Committee member) Maria Elena Durazo.
“Durazo has a very interesting story, because her parents came from Mexico and had to work in the fields,” Cala says. “They were very poor, and one of her brothers died because they didn’t have access to medical services. So it was a really emotional interview.”
Cala also mingled on Friday night at Plaza La Alameda with some of his newer CNN Latino viewers. “That was so much fun,” he says. “It brought back memories for me of when I did local TV in Miami, where you are really more in touch with your audience. Because when you work for CNN en Español, your audience is millions, spread out over the whole continent.”
“But when you are on a local station like Channel 63 in LA it’s so great, because you go to Plaza La Alameda and you see the faces. And it was interesting, because even though CNN Latino has only been on the air for six weeks, people came up to me and said, ‘Hey, I watched this interview and really liked it.’ So they are discovering the program and it’s a great opportunity.”
Some of the women in attendance at the Plaza got an extra bonus – Cala as a dancing partner. “There were some ladies there dancing by themselves,” he recalls. “I’m not a good dancer, but I thought I would try to have a good time with them. They had a really great cumbia band playing for them.”
The very busy Cala has a second book in the pipeline provocatively titled Hijo de la Gran P (Son of a P), all about his globetrotting efforts to boost his spirituality. For this project, he just returned from Rio de Janeir’s 2013 Carnival celebrations.
“The P in the title refers to Spanish for prostitute,” Cala explains. “It’s a bad phrase. But the book is all about changing paradigms, which is also the subtitle. That’s why I’m using this phrase. The “P” here is for passion, patience, perseverance. Because I want this book to mainly address a young audience, I wanted a really provocative title.”
“I shot a lot of video, because although the book will be printed, there will be at the end of each chapter a link where the reader can go and see online a mini-documentary of the trip, pictures, and everything else that they cannot see in the book,” he adds. “My publishing house has promised me that both of the books will be published in English, but we’re still talking about those specifics. I have another meeting in fact this Friday with them in New York.”
Previously on FishbowlLA:
CNN Latino Anchor Coming to LA for Pair of Tapings
KTLA’s Elizabeth Espinosa Adds CNN Latino Duties