Cesar Rodriguez - Creative Services Director
Oct. 1, 2013 by Nicole V. Rohr
Perhaps viewers have recognized a different look and feel to WYCC PBS Chicago on air and online during the past year? There is someone to thank for the new logos, new photos of the city, and superb graphics on shows like In the Loop and Musicology: Live from the Old Town School of Folk Music. Cesar Rodriguez joined WYCC as Creative Services Director in November 2012, and has since reinvented the station’s branding, incorporating what the station has meant to viewers and to the community throughout its 30-year history.
Rodriguez was born in Havana, Cuba, and he always dreamed of being a photographer like his father. When Rodriguez finished high school, he completed the whole process of becoming a certified photographer in Cuba, but after one year of working in Havana, he was drafted into the Cuban Navy. But it was not the end of his career; Rodriguez became the official photographer for the Cuban Navy.
“Photography was… my passion,” Rodriguez explained. “All my life, that’s what I wanted to do.”
After the Navy, he attended Instituto Superior de Artes (ISA), a No. 1 arts school in Cuba, where he originally studied photography. After two years, however, Rodriguez decided to become a film director and graduated, working on television commercials for many years. In 1995, he moved to Chicago to work for Telemundo as a cameraman, and after a stint at an advertising agency, he returned to Telemundo years later as an executive producer.
Univision Communications Inc. hired Rodriguez to work as a production manager, and later transferred him to Miami. After four years, he began working as a creative director for various agencies, such as the San Jose Group (2009 to 2011), eventually joining WYCC PBS Chicago as Creative Services Director in November 2012.
“I think [being] a creative director is my strong suit. I am a creative person; I’ve done creative stuff all my life,” Rodriguez said. He added that once he discovered his talents as a creative director, he found a sense of fulfillment because the role combined graphics, television commercials, writing and more. “Being a creative director to me is the ultimate. It’s really fun,” he said.
Reflecting on his portfolio of brand work, Rodriguez named Patron, Tylenol, and Budweiser as past accounts.
A WYCC viewer can see examples of Rodriguez’s photography not only on his photography website, but also incorporated in sets in the WYCC studio. “Photography to me is not just a hobby. I take whatever opportunity I get to shoot, like with In the Loop, we brought in gigantic photographs as part of the new set. I did those,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez has four children: Nicholas (16); Lucia (14); Mia (9); and Claire (7). The family has also recently welcomed a new lab/boxer puppy named Luna. And while the puppy may not show much of an interest in photography, Rodriguez thinks that his children could one day pursue careers in the arts. “I could tell you all these things and you wouldn’t believe it. My children are incredible. Claire likes painting, but never in a way that I have seen a child do. Lucia, she’s a ballerina, and has been doing ballet for many years,” Rodriguez said proudly. “They have seen me go crazy with these creative projects, so I think all four of them have some very strong skills.”
WYCC has changed dramatically during the past year, and under Rodriguez’s guidance, can look forward to many more colorful, visual enhancements, no doubt inspired by Rodriguez’s experiences in the world and with his family. He constantly reinforces the “Be More™” attitude that PBS encourages, and that WYCC viewers know well.