Veteran South Florida broadcaster and former CNN news anchor Rick Sanchez is making a broadcast comeback.
The showy and sometimes controversial newsman has joined new Spanish-language network MundoFox as a national contributor based in Miami.
In addition to hosting news specials, the Pembroke Pines resident will produce daily news segments with students from Florida International University.
"This is exciting for me," said Sanchez, 54, over the phone. "It will be a mini-talk show within the news every day. I sit around with students and talk about the topics of the day, kind of like holding up a mirror to people.
"While I am talking, they get to react so they are a part of it too."
MundoFox launched in August as a joint venture between Fox International Channels and RCN Television in Colombia. It debuted in 50 U.S. cities, including Miami, New York and Chicago.
The Cuban-American made a name for himself in South Florida as the high-profile anchor at WSVN-Ch. 7, where he delivered a nightly segment called "Crime Check" from the late-1980s to the early-2000s.
In 2001, Sanchez left the Fox affiliate to be an anchor and reporter for news cable network MSNBC in New Jersey.
He returned to South Florida in 2003 to host a weekday lifestyle talk show on WTVJ-Ch. 6. But a year later, he departed for CNN, where his national profile grew. He became best-known for hosting the show "Rick's List," where he used Twitter to interact with viewers during afternoon broadcasts.
But Sanchez made headlines in October 2010 when CNN fired him for comments he made during a radio program, where he called Jon Stewart, of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," "a bigot." Shortly after, Sanchez apologized for the comments on ABC's "Good Morning America."
"Everything we go through in life can be perceived as a win or mistake," he told the Sun Sentinel. "We learn from all of it. We get better."
Sanchez, who provided commentary for FIU's football team last year, had been without a steady TV job until now.
More recently, the bilingual broadcaster had been contributing reports to Fox News. He also provided election night covered for English-language website Fox News Latino.
MundoFox is looking to challenge powerhouse Spanish-language network Univision Communications and rival Telemundo Media, which have their national news operations based in South Florida.
Univision and Telemundo's telenovelas and newscasts rank among the most-watched television programs each week in South Florida. During the week of the presidential elections, Univision's 10 p.m. news coverage was the third most-watched program, with 214,000 total viewers in the Fort Lauderdale-Miami market, according to ratings company Nielsen.
Sanchez has been vocal in interviews and on panels about the need for diversity, particularly Hispanics, on national anchor desks.
"There is a real strong part of me that is very interested in increasing and empowering representation for Latinos in the U.S.," said the married father of four. "If you put Latinos in the boardroom, if you put Latinos on the air, if you put them on panels, that is the first step in people understanding not only who we are, but making the media better."
Teresa Ponte, chairwoman of FIU's journalism and broadcasting department, thinks there is room for another national Spanish-language network, as it looks to reach the growing Latino population in the U.S.
"Competition is good, and competition at the same level in Spanish language TV has been limited to one, maybe two players," said Ponte, who noted that Sanchez's appeal among audiences can help draw attention to MundoFox.
"This is a very interesting opportunity for him, and I am sure he is looking at this opportunity to expand his range of creativity."
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