Javier Romero was just 14 when he plugged a microphone into a home stereo and started imitating Hispanic radio hosts.
His father owned a grocery store close to a radio station, and one day he brought Romero to meet a host on what was then known as 92 FM.
The visit launched his career that took him from small radio stations to co-hosting Sabado Gigante, the longest-running television show in history.
In October, he became the third Hispanic to be inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame.
According to Univision, Romero hosts the 5:30 a.m. show “El Desayuno” on AMOR 107.5, WAMR-FM, the most popular morning show in Miami for over a decade. He plays the latest Latin pop hits and takes calls from listeners who talk about their daily lives.
“When I started, I wanted to remain in the business for as long as possible,” said the 57-year-old Romero. “I never thought of awards or benchmarks. Thanks to my listeners and my team, I have been able to stay in the business and move ahead.”
His fans are grateful for his radio career.
“He is my favorite radio host,” said Elina Merchan, 60, an event organizer at Amazonia Party Rental. “He earned his respect from Hispanic audiences. And, it clearly shows he has a loyal fanbase backing him up on his morning show.”
Diehard fan Aurora Soto Leal, a real estate agent, has listened to the morning show since it first went on air.
“I wake up every morning at 5:30 a.m. and listen to ‘El Desayuno’ in the living room, in my car and when I get to my office,” she said. “I listen to him because he transmits good vibes.”
Romero’s voice has a long history in South Florida on both radio and television.
In 1980, representatives from many Hispanic radio stations gather names of Cubans arriving in South Florida during the Mariel boatlift. The idea was to put these names on the air in hopes of finding family members.
Romero not only volunteered, but he traveled around Miami-Dade County to collect names and broadcast them on 92 FM’s 5 p.m. show.
“I had a friend of mine take me because I did not drive,” he said. “They started paying me $5 an hour, which was a fortune back then.”
He worked at 92 FM for 10 years before moving to “Radio Ritmo” in 1990, which five years later became his current station, Amor 107.5, WAMR-FM.
Although he never left radio, he pursued other opportunities in television, as well.
In 1986, he worked on a Univision television show called “Antes de las Seis” and when Hallmark Cards purchased the network, Romero took a position presenting the local weather forecast.
“I would do weather in an entertaining way like taking live shots behind fountains and near Bayside,” he said.
Mario Luis Kreutzberger Blumenfeld, known as TV personality “Don Francisco,” visited Romero at the station five years later to talk with him about co-hosting “Sabado Gigante,” the longest-running variety show in history. He was hired that day.
“We knew each other, not that well, but we talked it out for a little while at the station, and he told me to start at 1 p.m.,” Romero said.
He has over 40 years of experience hosting radio shows and co-hosted “Sabado Gigante” for 25 years until the show ended in 2015.
He attributes his long career to one thing: authenticity.
“You cannot be someone you are not,” he said. “On the radio, you got to do what you feel is right.”