Hipolito Cuevas , one of Connecticut’s best know Spanish-language radio personalities, died last Wednesday night, July 7, from complications due to diabetes. He was 44.
A multi-talented communications professional, Hipolito was also the founder and first editor of El Reportero, a Spanish-language newspaper which ran in the Hartford News for several years.
Hipolito divided his childhood between Hartford and Caguas, Puerto Rico. He graduated from the University of New Haven with a degree in communications. While in college, he combined his two great passions, baseball and radio. as the play-by-play announcer for the University of New Haven baseball team.
While Hipolito was a fan of most sports, baseball was far and away his favorite and he often watched three games in one night. He was very proud that his hometown of Caguas was also home to one of the best in Puerto Rican baseball history, the Criollos de Caguas.
After college, Hipolito began working as an announcer at several Spanish-language radio stations in the Greater Hartford area. To some he was “El Baby” to others he was the “Puerto Rican Howard Stern.” Like the famous “shock-jock” Stern, Hipolito was highly creative, highly popular and highly controversial. Over the years, his shows drew hundreds of protests – and thousands of listeners.
Not content with being limited to the airwaves, he also started his own news paper, El Imparcial, along with his friend, photographer Willie Valentin.
Having worked his way through virtually every Spanish-language radio station in Greater Hartford, Hipolito decided to start his own radio station in the late 1990’s. Because the station was unlicensed (commonly referred to as “pirate radio”), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) tried to close it down. A long legal battle ensued and Hipolito became a hero figure to many seeking less restrictions on radio in the United States. When the FCC finally allowed low-power radio stations to go on-air, Hipolito started broadcasting to the Frog Hollow neighborhood from a small studio on Arbor Street. He also operated an online television station and an online newspaper from the same location.
Hipolito’s battle with diabetes was long and painful. The disease left him partially blind and at one point he was confined to a wheelchair. He continued to work, however, and was serving as an announcer at WLAT-910 AM in East Hartford until shortly before his death.
A fellow broadcaster said of Hipolito, “Of all the people I’ve known in this business, he loved being on the radio most. His home was in front of a microphone.”