Fernando Arreaza, 58, is a sports announcer who has covered six World Cups, horse racing, and baseball championships from the World Series to the Serie del Caribe. But at the start, it wasn’t obvious that his career would span decades, thousands of miles, and probably tens of thousands of games.
What is the key to his success?
“Being prepared is my ritual, “said Arreaza, who lives in Doral and moved to the United States six years ago. These days he works just as he did in Caracas, Venezuela, for 25 years before emigrating.
Arreaza was born in La Guaira, a Caracas suburb, on June 13, 1965. He lived most of his life there in a middle-class family and played left field on his little league team. He was pretty good, he said, but not good enough to play professionally.
In March 1990, he was hired by Omni-Vision, a pioneering media organization in Venezuela. He started working as a play-by-play announcer, broadcasting games live from stadiums and also from a small studio. Sometimes he would announce two games a day, which could require seven to eight hours per day on the air.
“I remember I was very nervous before each of my radio presentations,” he recalls. “I had a speech prepared and as soon the speech was over, there was silence in the room. I learned that there was a huge responsibility with the audience as soon as that red tiny button ‘on air’ turned on.”
Around the same time, he invited his “then-girlfriend and now wife Marysabel Vargas to have dinner,” he said. They got married in September 1991.
His first son, Fernando, was born on September 19, 1992. His nickname has been “Nando” since a very young age to differentiate him from his dad. A few months later, in March 1993, he started working for Venevision, then the biggest media company in Venezuela. He also did some work for Union Radio station, covering the 1993-94 Venezuelan Baseball League later that year and his own show from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Saturday mornings on Avila FM, a local radio station.
“I built my fundamentals in that local station,” he said. “I developed an announcing style. I was very nervous, but when I got to Venevision, I felt ready to start.”
Arreaza covered his first soccer World Cup in 1994 while working for Venevision. It was held in the United States. The headquarters was in Dallas, where he was stunned by technology far more complex than he was used to seeing every day on his job in Venezuela.
Four years later, Venevision took the same crew of around ten people to cover the France 98′ World Cup.
“My best professional experience was the coverage of the soccer World Cup France ’98,” he recalls, “because we had the chance to visit several cities and also do what we enjoy the most.”
His second son, Jesus, was born on June 13, 2000, just like his dad but 35 years after. Jesus mentions that his dad left for about a month or even more time every year around March for the MLB Spring Trainings and he says that it took him a while to get used to seeing his dad not being at home until he understood his dad’s job.
Around the year 2000, he started visiting Major League Baseball, where he and his crew were able to record interviews with coaches, players, and staff. The 56-year-old announcer has visited Arizona and Tampa each year since then.
“It is very easy to get access to players and coaches during that time and they are more open with the media,” he says,” They are more relaxed….It is amazing to see the multiple faces from each organization: the veteran getting ready for a new season, the star who wants to show his best, the rookie fighting for a spot in the team, the one who was injured last season trying to come back.”
Around 2010, Arreaza helped develop one of the most influential programs in sports radio in Venezuela: “Los Cronistas” on Union Radio. Octavio Sasso, one of the members of this program, said that “Fernando guided that process to get [commentators] together and face this topic in a completely different way.”
In 2015, he moved to the United States, “Coming to this country was like starting over,” he recalls. “I had to make myself known again.”
At that time, a new Venezuelan channel called IVC was founded in Miami. He became the voice of the channel for Major League Baseball broadcasts with a particular focus on the Miami Marlins.
Ever since then, he has been broadcasting games from Miami and Tampa, as well as doing remote broadcasts for other teams –mostly for a Venezuelan audience. “Baseball is the most deeply rooted sport in Venezuela, part of the country’s culture,” he said. “There is no equal to the tradition.”