Spotlight on Writer/Professor Dr. Al Carlos Hernandez
By Susie Albin-Najera
Writer, screenwriter, columnist, producer, host, managing editor, graduate, doctorate, entrepreneur, professor, PhD, husband, dad, granddad, great grandad….with so many titles, how does Al Carlos Hernandez do it? “With a hybrid, urban, super fly, vato loco mentality,” he states.
Dr. Al Carlos (Dr. AC) Hernandez is the west coast editor USA of Herald De Paris online newspaper with estimated 11 million hits a day, contributing editor with Latinola.com of Los Angeles, consulting editor for www. Soulradionline.com and a featured columnist for San Diego’s largest bilingual Newspaper, La Prensa. He is also an Adjunct Professor at Patten University in Oakland and long time resident of Pacifica, CA.
He grew up in the housing projects in San Francisco and never really fit in – he was never quite Latino enough or gringo enough for that matter. His parents never spoke Spanish at home and wanted him to learn English. “And they were right,” he claims. “I never made a dime speaking Spanish.”
Both his parents and grandparents were born in Hawaii. In the late 1800’s, there was a hurricane in Puerto Rico so they sent 60,000 of the poorest farm workers to work in Hawaii. “My maternal grandfather listed his occupation as “Cowboy” as he worked on King’s Ranch,” he states. “My paternal grandfather listed his occupation as ‘Teamster.’ My Dad was a warehouse man and musician. I am 100% Puerto Rican.”
AC took his street smarts and excelled after graduating JFK High School in Fremont, California, he matriculated to Ohlone College where he was voted most Inspirational leader as a student council member while earning two Varsity letters in NCAA soccer.
Upon his acceptance to Cal State Hayward, he used his media savvy and became the first Latino Editor in Chief of the Universities Daily newspaper, overseeing a staff of 35. The paper won third place overall excellence for a daily in the state that year.
Dr. AC Hernandez
Al Carlos was the first Latino to ever graduate as a Mass Communications major at Cal State Hayward University at the age of 22. He earned two more Varsity soccer letters, making him a rare 4-year NCAA Varsity letterman. Upon graduation, he went back to Ohlone community college and worked as a coordinator as well as a faculty ethnic studies media instructor. During that time he was voted Club Adviser of the Year.
Concurrent with his collegiate responsibility, he worked as the on air host and producer of a weekly radio talk show on KFRC in San Francisco. During the years AC was on the air KFRC was voted the number one rock station in the country five years in a row, he broadcasted to a weekly audience of several hundred thousand.
In 1979 AC was hired as the Program Director of KBRG fm a Spanish language radio station in San Francisco. He was successful in achieving record Arbitron numbers, and was voted International Latin Program Director of the year 1980, by Record World Magazine.
In an effort to return to his first love, writing, he accepted the position of West Coast Regional editor for the first National Latino Magazine “Nuestro.” Nuestro was called the Latino People Magazine, and was distributed to almost every Latino household in the country. AC severed as an editor and feature writer for many years, and has published nationally since 1977.
On the business side things, he was hired by the two-time Grammy award winning Tex Mex act, Little Joe y La Familia and as their Producer, was the first domestic Latino music act ever to score a major record deal with WEA International. AC negotiated the record contract and went on to produce their ground breaking album “No Quiero Mas Amar” in 1983.
Tired with the rigors of media, and wanting to spend more time with his young children and wife, AC decided to explore his entrepreneurial side and started a business with his wife Alba, Alba Hair Design a prominent SF hair care business.
He was successful in becoming the managing partner of a multimillion-dollar a year Honda/Yamaha franchise in Daly City California, while Alba Hair Design of San Francisco thrived.
When the dot.com revolution hit, AC was a featured international columnist for Latino.com, Picosito.com and Latinolink.com. As he continued to publish, in 1996 he was asked to create and write a narrative story for a children’s CD by the Grammy wining band, Los Lobos. “Papa’s Dream” the CD was a tremendous sales success, and in 1996, AC and Los Lobos were nominated for a Grammy award for the project.
Around that time AC began writing screenplays with acclaimed USC Annenberg Research fellow documentary filmmaker, Phillip Rodriguez. Their first effort, “Broken English” was optioned by Kronengburg Greenlight productions of Canada. He continues to write sitcoms and feature film projects and works as a free-lance media consultant.
A recent conversation with Dr. AC Hernandez:
What is a typical day like for you?
I have a home office and during the day I take care of my disabled stepson, who is head injured as result of senseless Latino on Latino crime. Read the Bible, get online, and begin doing research. Take our dog, Miss Sally outside. Help get my wife off to work. Never ever turn on the TV. Start making calls and contacts, always setting up the next big interview.
In your bio it states you are a Doctoral candidate, but did you already receive this honor?
I received my Doctorate of Humane Letters, from Patten University in Oakland, where I work as an Adjunct Professor last summer. That was one of the best days of my life. I like to think of myself going from The Projects to a PhD.
How would you describe your writing style?
I am somewhere between Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, PJ O’Rourke, Richard Rodriguez, and Woody Allen. I try to write from the inside out – it’s a great catharsis.
What classes are you teaching right now?
I usually teach, Public Relations, Advertising, Media Management and a host of writing classes. In one class, I teach everything from song lyrics to stand up comedy and spoken word. I bring my Herald De Paris and LatinoLA articles in to teach students how to interview. I have a wealth of real life experience having managed radio stations, done record deals, ran a nightclub, co-owned a motorcycle dealership, done a little bit of everything and as a writer have been publishing nationally since 1977 with Nuestro.
Is there ever a day when you don’t write?
Some days I don’t write. I’m off riding one of my motorcycles, online a lot having no life at all or spending quality time with family.
What’s your perception of Latino writers in Hollywood and in general?
I made the mistake early on as a writer to specialize in Latino affairs. This limited me, and severely limited my opportunity. If I used the same talent and energy, I would have been writing A-list mainstream from the beginning like I do now with Herald De Paris. I had to go off shore, (Paris) like Jimi Hendrix and The Stray Cats to make a name for myself.
Producers don’t care if you are Latino or not. George Lopez doesn’t use Latino writers except for Luisa Leschin. If you do comedy be funny – if you do drama, make them cry. If you do horror, quit that and go to church. What they buy is perspective and ability. The average TV writer is a 32-year old white male, with no life. Studio executives are those same dudes with an ex-wife and a S-Class Mercedes.
How do you get your inspiration for the articles you write?
As you know, I do the National Latino TOP Ten list. I had an opportunity to work with Letterman, and at one point, talked to his producer. They made a file for the stuff I sent in but then again I was too Latino and hip for the room. I make lists about what I think is funny regarding the national second and third generational Latino condition.
I have written a weekly column for www.LatinoLA.com and several other sites for the last ten years. I write about everyday life, based on an urban, nuevo, macho point of view. I was working on a compilation of the columns into a book. The title of the book was, ‘Understanding Your Former Thug Husband.’
Bucket list includes:
My wife and I plan to drive cross-country next year. We would like to be a presenter in an award show that is not the Imagen Awards, get a screenplay actually to screen, start doing speaking engagements, and put some ape hanger handlebars on my chopper.
Loves: Jesus Christ, wife, kids, grandkids, great grand-baby Marianna, (And yes it is mathematically possible), Miss Sally and Mugz our dogs and motorcycles, ride it like you stole it.
Peeves: People who have no situational awareness, including drivers, people who eat with their mouths open and limousine liberals who wear sandals with socks.
Favorite quote(s): “Christianity, the moment you are dead, you will know we were right” – Dr. AC
And although he has held many titles, his greatest achievements are his wonderful 30-year marriage, seven grandkids and one great grandchild.
Al Carlos Hernandez is considered an innovator and pioneer in local media. He holds a B.A. in Mass communications from Cal State Hayward and a Lifetime California Community college teaching credential.