Back In the mid-'90s, Bill Teck got fed up with all the talk about Generation X. Between Douglas Coupland's book Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture and Richard Linklater's film Slacker, pop culture was failing to represent Teck's experience as a Latino living in Miami, surrounded by people from all over Latin America and the Caribbean. "It didn't resonate with my peer group," Teck says. "They were the first generation in the country and knew they must push things forward."
And he came to a realization about his peers: "I don't think we're Gen X. We're Generation Ñ."
So Teck and his friends started printing T-shirts branded "Generation Ñ," and within a year, they'd launched a glossy music-and-culture magazine with the same name. "We were the first publication to write in Spanglish -- half in English, half in Spanish," Teck remembers.
"We started the magazine with my life savings. We had three grand and some twenty-something friends at a little apartment building. We didn't go out and get investors and do it the proper way. I went out, sold advertising. I wrote articles. My friends wrote articles. We didn't know the first thing about what we were doing. We knew we didn't want to make a zine. We wanted to make a glossy, polished magazine that had advertising," he recalls. "We wanted to establish a brand, not just a little movement. We wanted to create a brand that would stand for being bilingual, bicultural, and thinking and being in two languages."
During the late '90s, Generation Ñ launched television shows, radio programs and the Official Spanglish Dictionary. "There was not a business plan," Teck says. "It was just organic."
The project spread from Miami to New York City and Los Angeles, where nightclubs sponsored Ñ events. In July 1999, Newsweek featured a story on Generation Ñ that celebrated twenty powerful young Latinos, including Shakira, Junot Díaz, Oscar De La Hoya and Teck himself.
"Once that word went into national consciousness, it became pretty bananas," Teck says. "It got to be well known. It will be twenty years old in 2016. People still identify with it. That little letter with that little tilde has really come to mean something special to people."
In 2008, Teck turned his media company into a broadband television website funded from his own pocket. "We went out and shot a bunch of shows. We had like twenty shows, and we were updating them weekly. It was a crazy thing to do. We were the first Latino broadband network," he says. After struggling to keep up with the pace of producing twenty shows a week, he shifted the network's focus to content aggregation.
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Today, Generation Ñ finds the best Latino-produced programs and helps promote them. The company recently revamped the site and will be launching a new version in February at generation-ntv.com.
While Denise Soler Cox, the focus of this week's cover story on Project Enye, was inspired when she heard a Generation Ñ ad, she didn't know much about its creator. She says she has Teck's name written somewhere in her notes and is aware of Generation Ñ, his media company, but doesn't see it as competition.
When Teck learned of Project Enye and the impact that the Generation Ñ brand has had on Soler Cox, he was thrilled. "I'm not familiar with it, but good for them," he says. "It certainly merits that kind of attention. That's just cool."
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