Sabina Widmann-Hernandez: Making Waves On Air
March 3, 2017
By Mario A. Cortez
Like many of us, Sabina Widmann-Hernandez could not have anticipated in her youth that she would be working in her current field.
“When I was young I wanted to be in conservation and save the world,” Widmann-Hernandez said to La Prensa San Diego. “I was an idealist.”
Sabina Widmann-Hernandez is the vice president, general manager and director of Sales of Univision stations in the San Diego market, a far cry from her dreams as a girl, but not uncharted territory.
Growing up, Widmann-Hernandez’s mother worked for a CBS radio affiliate in New York City while her father worked in advertising.
“I grew up as a radio brat. I got to meet the djs and go to concerts, but also saw the hard work that behind radio as well as fun and excitement of it. But I always thought that I would do something very different like saving the world, ” Widmann Hernandez shared.
“My mom had a great experience in radio and she met amazing people who were like family to me growing up,” Widmann-Hernandez continued. “Advertising and radio bring together people who are a bit different and kind of abstract working to entertain and engage people.”
Widmann-Hernandez got her start in entering her dream job in conservation as an undergrad at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. During her college years, she was able to study abroad, which she used to her advantage to sharpen her Spanish-language skills.
“Living and studying abroad definitely changed my life,” Widmann-Hernandez said. “I was living in Malaga, Spain while enrolled in an immersion program. And then in my junior year of college I went to Latin America in the fall of 1992. I was with the School for International Training in Ecuador and was in full spanish immersion. I also had the chance to work with small scale fisheries in Costa Rica at la Universidad de Costa Rica in San Jose through the University of Kansas.”
During her tenure at Dickinson College, Widmann-Hernandez earned her bachelor’s in anthropology with minors in biology and Spanish. Shortly after graduating in the spring of 1994, Widmann-Hernandez entered a master’s program in marine affairs and fisheries management at the University of Washington. Her studies took her to Baja California, where she completed her thesis on small-scale fisheries and also worked for school credit.
While in Baja, Sabina would meet a person who would change her life forever.
“I met Adan Hernandez , who would be my future husband, 20 years ago. He was a whale watching guide,” she remembered.
Sabina and Adan eventually moved up to San Diego, where she worked along with the United Way and other organizations making a positive impact. However, she began to think about entering another career path as she spent more time thinking about what awaited her in conservation.
“The ocean is a huge passion of mine, but I found myself wanting something different because I knew I was going to end up as an executive in a backroom and I knew what that looked like. I knew I was going to look at a lot of human resources issues and would have to placate the board of directors. I felt like I was better suited to sales and interfacing w people and helping business grow,” Widmann-Hernandez commented.
Widmann-Hernandez entered Clear Channel, now iHeartMedia Inc., as a rookie level sales accountant 13 years ago. About one year after entering radio sales, Widmann-Hernandez was headhunted into Univision Radio.
“I met with the Univision people and found that Univision brought my passion for radio and Latin America together, as well as sales, education, entertainment, helping local businesses grow, and empowering our listeners”, Widmann-Hernandez said.
Despite having been in sales for a bit over a year, Sabina felt right at home at Univision.
“I had been selling a for a little bit, but I was selling something that I believed in. I listen to the music on our stations and I have seen radio be a passion point for many of my extended family members in Mexico,” she explained.
In 2012, Widmann-Hernandez was promoted to Director of Sales, and in August of 2015, she assumed he current role of Vice President, General Manager and Director of Sales of Univision’s local radio stations.
Widmann-Hernandez closed the interview by sharing her positive outlook on the state of radio and it’s effect on listeners.
“I think radio is bigger now than what it was when I was growing up in New York,” she highlighted. “For me, it was fun listening to music on the radio. But many of our listeners, our Spanish-language radio programming and personalities can serve as a touchpoint to go back to a familiar place; they may not get this at other stations.”