Emilio Nicolas Sr.,
one of the founding pioneers of Spanish-language television in the United States, died Saturday, October 12, 2019 in San Antonio, TX. Nicolas, one of five children, was born on October 27, 1930, to Mr. and Mrs. Constantino Nicolas in Frontera, Coahuila, Mexico. A trailblazer in the community and the media industry, Nicolas leaves behind a legacy of countless civic contributions and several Spanish-language broadcast television networks, including Univision, America’s first.
In1948, Nicolas moved to San Antonio, Texas from San Luis Potosi, Mexico, to learn English. He attended St. Mary’s University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and biology with a minor in math in 1951, followed by a master’s degree from Trinity University in 1952. He first worked for Southwest Foundation, where he researched arteriosclerosis and worked on the development of the polio vaccine.
In 1955, Nicolas was hired by his father-in-law, Raoul Cortez, Sr., to work at KCOR-TV channel 41 in San Antonio. It is there that he began his storied career in Spanish television and media. During his six years at KCOR, Nicolas was regularly and swiftly promoted, eventually becoming the station’s president and general manager.
In 1961 Nicolas and a group of investors bought KCOR-TV and renamed it KWEX-TV. By 1976, KWEX-TV and San Antonio had become the center of operations for SIN, the first satellite interconnected television network in the United States. SIN would later become Univision, currently the most-watched Spanish-language network, reaching more than 95 percent of Hispanic households in the U.S. in over 60 markets and bringing in revenues of over $1 billion per year.
In his role as president of SICC, Nicolas helped the network of television stations around the nation grow to more than 280 affiliates, and in 1987, he orchestrated and consummated the sale of SICC to Hallmark Greeting Cards for $301.5 million.
Following the sale, Nicolas and Emilio Azcárraga Milmo, the son of Emilio Azcárraga Vidaurreta and a pioneer of radio and television in Mexico, launched Galavision broadcasting group, the third Spanish-language television network in the United States. Nicolas Communications Corporation (NCC) was formed to affiliate with Galavision. In 2003, Nicolas sold his remaining TV stations to Univision, Entravision and Pappas Telecasting.
Active in civic causes as well as television, Nicolas was Chairman of the National Association of Spanish Broadcasters (NASB) and served on numerous boards, including the Board of Trinity University, where he served for 25 years. He was on the Board of San Antonio Savings Association, The University of the Incarnate Word, Southwest Research Foundation, The University of Texas College of Communications, The University of Texas Health Science Center, The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund or MALDEF, The San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, The National Board of the USO, and many others.
Additionally, Nicolas is credited for his passionate editorials on matters affecting the Spanish-speaking people of the United States.
Among Nicolas’ many contributions to multi-media was lobbying Congress to mandate that all television sets come equipped to receive both VHF and now UHF channels. Over the span of his decades-long career, Nicolas’ accomplishments and contributions have been recognized with numerous honors and awards, including El Premio OTHLI, Mexico’s highest honor awarded to a Mexican citizen living abroad, the Texas Medal of Arts Award (TMAA), and the “Spirit of Broadcasting” Award from the National Association of Broadcasters.
Nicolas is also recognized for his contribution to American media in “American Enterprise,” an exhibit at the Smithsonian’s American History Museum, which traces the country’s growth from a small, dependent nation to a major global economy.
What Nicolas felt was his greatest accomplishment and what he was most proud of, however, was his family.
Nicolas Sr. was preceded in death by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Constantino Nicolas; his siblings, Guillermo Constantino Nicolas, Julia Nicolas Marcos, and Nena Nicolas Chamoun.
He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Irma Alicia Cortez Nicolas, his three children, Emilio Nicolas Jr. (Tari); Guillermo Nicolas (James Foster); and daughter Miriam Nicolas Relyea (Timothy); his sister, Virginia Nicolas Herrera; grandchildren, Emilio B. Nicolas (Nancy), Daniel Nicolas, Jolie Campbell (Charles), Brooke Wommack (Wright), Morgan Colt (Walker); and seven great-grandchildren, William Nicolas, Dorothy Nicolas, Webber Wommack, Logan Wommack, Collins Colt, Charles Campbell, and Tyler Wommack.
Visitation will be on Sunday, October 20, 2019 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church, 223 E. Summit, San Antonio, TX 78212, with a Rosary to follow at 7:00 p.m. A Procession from Porter Loring Mortuary, Monday, October 21, 2019 at 1:30 p.m. with a Mass at 2:00 p.m., San Fernando Cathedral, 115 Main Plaza, San Antonio, TX 78208. Inurnment will be private.
Flowers are welcome as are gifts to St Mary’s University, Trinity University, The Southwest School of Art and the San Antonio Library Foundation.