Rafael Hernandez Brito loves calling play-by-play at the Super Bowl as the voice of the NFL en Español on Univision Radio, but his path to the booth is an American dream that began amid the nightmare of war in his native El Salvador.
As sports director of Univision Radio, this busy self-made broadcaster seems to hold more titles than Manny Pacquiao. His NFL duties include Monday night games, playoffs and Super Bowls (his impassioned call of Steeler James Harrison’s 100-yard interception return in Super Bowl XLIII made an ESPN highlight reel) and he moonlights doing Spanish-language broadcasts of Miami Dolphins games.
He is also the host/ringleader of “Locura Deportiva,” Univision Radio’s most successful sports program, presiding over candid, colorful, often comical discussions on the topics of the day as “El Alcalde” (“The Mayor”).
And he is the longtime host of “El Garaje de AutoZone,” a Saturday morning automotive show perhaps best described as a Spanish-language version of the immensely popular NPR program “Car Talk.”
Whatever the occasion, with a booming voice and a big smile, Rafa infuses his broadcasts with both passion and humor.
But he is also intensely serious about his work, feeling fortunate to be able to make a living doing something he would do for free.
In 1984, concerned for his safety amid El Salvador’s civil war, Rafa’s parents sent him to the U.S. to finish high school in Locust Valley, N.Y. He went on to earn a degree in mechanical engineering at Boston University, followed by a successful run working for Coors Brewing Co., where his buoyant personality made him a natural in sales and marketing.
But Rafa found his true calling while watching sports on TV each weekend. His high-decibel critiques of the announcers and his impassioned demonstrations of superior technique prompted his wife Sonia to suggest turning annoyance into opportunity.
Her challenge, Rafa recalls, was: “If you think you’re so good, why don't you do it for a living.”
Next stop: Connecticut School of Broadcasting. Before long he was at the mike doing play-by-play for St. John’s University basketball. Then he signed on to do a Spanish-language broadcast for the New York Jets.Soon he was covering boxing and soccer, doing Spanish broadcasts of the NFL on CBS and calling play-by-play for big-league baseball and the Little League World Series.
A hard worker with a competitive nature, Rafa says he admires the professionalism and versatility of such broadcast legends as Jim Nantz and Bob Costas. Today he is prepared and eager to meet any challenge – be it branching out into coverage of UFC mixed martial arts, or generally broadening the reach of Spanish-language sports broadcasting.
He also remains profoundly grateful about the opportunities he has found and capitalized upon in his adopted homeland.
So if you tune in to Univision Radio’s broadcast of the Super Bowl, and you happen to hear announcer Rafael Hernandez Brito passionately singing along with the national anthem, you will understand why.
Midway through his distinguished career as an international hotel executive, Thomas A. Klein followed his heart to San Francisco.
Serving as regional vice president for Fairmont Hotels & Resorts in California meant Mr. Klein would oversee a group of high-end hotels in Sonoma, San Jose, Santa Monica and Newport Beach. But most important, he would assume command of the brand’s spectacular century-old flagship, The Fairmont San Francisco.
He now captains The Fairmont with a leadership vision as distinctive as the landmark hotel's panoramic view of San Francisco, with its cable cars and signature suspension bridges.
Mr. Klein's self-styled “total engagement” philosophy – honed at the helm of properties from Australia and South Africa to North and South America – emphasizes daily interaction with staffers at all levels, immersing himself “in the heart of the house” and empowering employees by establishing personal connections that he believes are vital to the bottom line.
As a result, he is equally comfortable connecting with The Fairmont's housekeepers and bellpersons as he is personally welcoming high-profile guests ranging from movie stars to heads of state. And as an accessible community ambassador, he is equally comfortable manning a podium in black tie as he is donning work clothes to help volunteers clean up local treasure Muir Woods.
Characteristic of his hands-on approach, when Mr. Klein added beehives to the The Fairmont's rooftop culinary garden to produce fresh honey for hotel cuisine, he was there to inspect the installation, even donning a beekeeper's helmet to get a closer look. In addition to his uniquely progressive approach to operations management,
Mr. Klein’s extensive international experience has enabled him to play a pivotal role in the acquisition of new properties and management contracts. Prior to his current position at The Fairmont San Francisco, Mr. Klein functioned as regional vice president, The Americas for Swissôtel Hotels & Resorts, overseeing properties in Peru and Ecuador, and serving as general manager of Swissôtel Chicago.
During this time, he was named Chicago “Hotelier of the Year” by the Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association and a property under his supervision, Swissôtel Quito, was honored as the second best hotel in South America by Travel & Leisure.
Mr. Klein brings the same intense level of engagement to his charitable endeavors as he does to his vocation. Inspired by a heartfelt bond with a young patient in need, his efforts on behalf of the Leukemia Lymphoma Society helped shatter fund-raising records and culminated in his recognition as the charity’s 2010 Man of the Year.
Born in Bonn, Germany, Mr. Klein moved to Australia with his family at age 3. After earning a bachelor's degree in Sociology from Boston University in 1981, he embarked upon a hospitality career beginning in Columbus, Ohio, as a waiter with Hyatt Hotel Corporation.
When not working, he enjoys golfing, playing tennis, riding his Harley Davidson along the California coast and spending time with his wife and two children.
But when he’s on duty, colleagues say Thomas Klein devotes heart and soul to his role at The Fairmont San Francisco, distinguishing himself as a passionate, dynamic hotel executive and a tireless steward of this timeless property.