Have Voice - Will Travel by Patricia Shanks
For many people establishing a viable career path can be challenging. But for Omar Guzman (pictured above) the path is paved with opportunities, and just a matter of being the man on the street.
Omar Alirio Guzman-Corzo began his broadcasting career in his native Guatemala at the age of 8. Bullhorn firmly in his grasp, young Omar wandered the streets of his hometown of Dolores, Petén announcing films playing at the local movie theater. A movie theater representative from Guatemala City heard his announcements and offered Omar a job in the big city. So young Omar hopped on the bus and rode some 300 miles to his new adventure.
Part of his job in Guatemala City was to provide voices for announcements and cartoons playing before the films. The voices of both Tom the cat and Jerry the mouse bore a remarkable resemblance to Omar the adolescent. When his voice lowered at age 11, Omar resorted to helium in order to keep the high-pitched quality in his read. Literally and figuratively, he kept up the cartoon voice until the age of 14.
During those years, while commuting three hours one way from home to the theater, Omar listened to the one program available over the bus radio. The DJ was stuck in a pattern of playing one song, then announcing the time. He never altered the formula. Frustrated by the boring routine, Omar placed a call to the program director, who also happened to be the station owner.
"I told her, I can do better than that guy. She said, 'OK. Can you start Monday?'" He retold the tale.
Omar took over the show for 4 months. What he didn't realize was that the boring DJ was also the owner's son. With nepotism at work and a serious need on the part of listeners to hear the time announced every three minutes, Omar didn't stand a chance. He was let go. Not mincing words, the owner said, "You are good to sell tomatoes, not to play music."
During the weeks following Omar's dismissal, the station owner took full advantage of the airwaves to badmouth Omar. Another station owner who had heard the youthful DJ on the air and had liked his work responded to the constant barrage of insults by hiring Omar. Clearly, his future did not hold a career in produce sales.
By age 15 Omar found it necessary to quit his budding radio career and devote more time to his work in the army. He handled public relations, which he now characterizes as something more akin to propaganda work. Even before his stint in the army, he had voiced political ads for assorted candidates for various offices. His main criterion for accepting the job was whoever paid the most. It didn't matter which candidate he promoted, since the candidates all switched parties at will from one election to the next.
When he left the military and went to work in the private sector, he segued into three careers - public relations, voiceover and accounting. By age 23, Omar was working for a radio network in Guatemala. They needed to send someone to the United States to shop for news for distribution in Central America. Omar made the big move to New York.
While working as a US liaison for the Guatemala network, Omar moved back and forth to his Central American home, and in and out of jobs in New York and Los Angeles. He was a cable radio DJ and news producer for a program titled, "La Gran Colombia" and a news producer and sports show host for Radio Labio in Los Angeles.