PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – WPLG President and CEO Bert Medina has been recognized by the Suncoast Emmy Chapter with the Silver Circle Award, which represents excellence in the television industry for 25 years or more.
Like many South Floridians, Medina’s story started 90 miles off the coast of South Florida.
“I grew up, for the first seven years of my life at least, on the island of Cuba,” he said.
Medina was just seven years old when his family arrived in the United States in 1969.
“For all intents and purposes, I consider South Florida to be my hometown,” he said.
Even as a young boy, Medina knew he wanted to do something in media.
“I knew about the age of 11 or 12, this is what I wanted to do. I had a passion for this business. I would wait for the TV Guide to arrive at my local 7-11 or You-Totem store and I would literally paste together the program guides for the three networks at the time,” he said.
Years later, while paying his way through college doing door-to-door research, Medina got a call to be part of a local television focus group.
“I had no idea who the station was at the time,” he said.
On the other side of the one-way mirror was the late Bob Leider, general manager of WSVN, who later offered Medina his first job in television as a research analyst for the station.
“He asked me what I wanted to do and I said, ‘Eventually I want your job’,” Medina said smiling.
From there, his career took off.
In 1998, Medina headed to Chicago for his first general manager position with Univision and returned to South Florida in 2005 to lead the Telefutura Network.
In 2013, he was coaxed out of retirement to take the top spot at the station he’d loved since childhood, becoming general manager and CEO of WPLG-TV.
While his career has focused on management, Medina’s past also included a love of news.
Medina served as editor in chief of his high school newspaper and years later was an adjunct professor at Florida International University.
“And to this day I still get feedback from some of my students from some of those classes,” he said.
Beyond his story of professional accomplishments, Medina has faced personal struggles.
At the age of 22, he was diagnosed with Marfan Syndrome, a potentially deadly congenital heart condition.
“Marfan Syndrome is something that’s affected me personally but it’s also affected many members of my family. I lost my uncle at the age of 49 and my mom at the age of 52,” Medina said.
He’s had his own brush with death during several surgeries to repair his heart back in 2012.
“I died multiple times and they brought me back. I spent two months in a hospital not being able to get out of a bed. Suffice to say I’m here because the good Lord wants me to be here and my mission has not been completed,” Medina said.
A big part of that mission is to help others.
Among his many charitable efforts, Medina serves on the board of the Marfan Foundation and takes an active part in raising awareness about the disease.
“And now it’s not unheard of for somebody who has Marfan’s to live into their 70s and 80s and beyond,” he said. “So the life expectancy is pretty normal whereas 20 years ago life expectancy was in the 40s and 50s. It has affected my life but I’ve been very blessed that I’ve been able to live a very full and complete life,” he said.
Living life to the fullest has included embracing his love of travel.
He’s been to all 50 states and seven continents for a total of over 100 countries.
“It’s like having an open encyclopedia of knowledge but living it and the wealth of information and knowledge that I’ve been able to gather from that has been priceless,” Medina said.
After more than 37 years in the television business, he said the biggest reward isn’t in the numbers like revenues or ratings, it’s in the people he’s met along the way.
“I would say that I consider myself the luckiest man alive. I’m living the best life surrounded by family and friends. I couldn’t have dreamed of a better career path for me than the path that I’ve been on and I’m still on. If I’m fortunate enough to have a legacy, I certainly hope that it’s all about the lives that I’ve touched along this journey.”
Medina is one of 6 Suncoast Emmy Chapter Silver Circle Recipients in 2022.