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The Miami Herald | 02/16/2004 | Callava's comeback: She adds ads to portfolio
Leticia Callava has found there's life after television -- on television.Leticia Callava has just finished two weeks of taping -- intense, sometimes 10-hour days -- but she's exuding vigor.She gestures.She paces.She laughs aloud.Dressed in a black lounge set, two dogs in tow, the icon of Miami TV has never been happier.And, as she says herself, who would've thought?Just a little more than two years ago, WSCV-Telemundo 51 didn't renew Callava's contract.For the first time in almost 25 years, she found herself unemployed.Others were shocked.She wasn't."I'm such a survivor," she says.In addition to the CarePlus print and electronic ads, Callava has taped 20 half-hour shows of Healthy Living with Leticia -- 10 in Spanish, 10 in English -- and those are being shown on all local network stations as well as several Spanish-language stations and cable outlets through March.CarePlus bought the time slots, but topics and guests were chosen by Callava and producer Maria Bures of Pigeon Productions."I felt so completely comfortable interviewing these people, and some in English, too," says Callava, who spent her entire career in Spanish-language media though she is fluent in both languages."The topics were fascinating and important, and I had time to enjoy myself.It's great to be able to perform a service for people and be rewarded financially for it."Fernandez, who heads the licensed health maintenance organization, said his company turned down pitches from agents of sports figures, singers and celebrities to go with Callava because of her "credibility and grass roots support and because she had never endorsed anything else before."It took Callava five months to agree to a deal with CarePlus.In that time, she practiced what Fernandez called "due diligence."She sat in on customer service calls, interviewed CarePlus subscribers, talked to the medical director of the plan and spoke to members of the community to see if the HMO was a company in good standing.The job with CarePlus couldn't have come at a better time for Callava.After she was let go by Channel 51, she turned off the TV and tuned out.More importantly, she decided to take advantage of the unexpected detour in her career "to connect with the people I love."Her twin granddaughters.Her mother, who lives in an apartment in the back of Callava's Coral Gables home.Callava, who grew up in Allapattah and graduated from Jackson High, knew little about TV journalism when she was hired as a reporter for Channel 23 by her cousin's husband.It was the late 1970s, and she was in her 30s, raising a teenage daughter after a divorce and studying for a history degree at FIU.She worked as a bank teller.A year later, she was behind the anchor's desk.By the 1980s, as the Latin community exploded, she became the most-watched Spanish language anchor in Miami.In 1988, she moved to WSCV.Now she speaks of those hectic years, of covering a city and its always-interesting politics, with a mix of wistfulness and relief.Nonetheless, she feels she is exactly where she needs to be.And of course, Callava went.