Eddie Martinez goes by the nickname “Tranzcendent” and makes an extra effort to bring a positive vibe into everything he does. This thumbs-up attitude was the result of an Army tour of duty in Baghdad.
“I saw what real struggle was,” he said. “I remember very vividly walking out of a chopper and taking a deep breath and smelling the air, which was like a dog did a number two right next to my feet. And I said to my sergeant, ‘Hey sarge, are we on a septic area?’ And he said, ‘Nah, just get used to it.’”
Although Martinez adjusted to the foul Iraqi air, he also readjusted his appreciation of what he left behind. “Being there made me realize not only how beautiful the United States is, but also Bridgeport,” he continued. “Sure, people will say it’s not as beautiful as Florida. But compared to what I saw, it totally changed my perspective on many things. When I came back from the Army, I felt that I wanted to give back to the community and do something positive. There are so many people out there doing negative things and I thought that maybe I can do some positive things.”
While Martinez became involved in regional nonprofits including the Bridgeport Puerto Rican Day Committee, the Greater Bridgeport Latino Network and the Latino Scholarship Fund, he also wanted to bring his “Tranzcendent” mission farther across the Internet. He launched the weekly podcast program “CT Latin Soundtrack” earlier in the year on a small online radio network, but he quickly realized that he wanted to grow this mission beyond a single show. In May, Martinez began broadcasts on his startup TOP Station — the acronym stands for Tranzcendent Outlook Podcast — from a studio in his Bridgeport home.
Martinez rebooted “CT Latin Soundtrack” with a mix of community and thought leaders from Bridgeport’s Latino community. Guests have included historian and activist Rosa J. Correa, poet and educator Odie Gomes, Latino Scholarship Fund President Abigail Kopp and comic Mark Viera. Martinez said that he wanted his shows to emphasize the need for young Latinos to focus on education and self-esteem.
“I want to be able to showcase persons or organizations within Connecticut that are doing great things for the Latino community,” he said. “I feel too many times these people get overlooked. In this day and age, we are focused on way too much negativity, so I wanted to help by sending some positive stuff out there.”
Martinez recently launched a second weekly TOP Station show titled “Entrepreneurs of Connecticut,” which offer one-on-one conversations with business professionals who took control of their careers. His Aug. 12 debut program starred Ramon Peralta, CEO of Peralta Design, and he followed that with Cris Castillo of Castillo & Sons Cuisine. And while this show is structured around how to start and run a business, Martinez stressed that it could provide an inspiration for community youth to think outside of the box and test their own entrepreneurial talents, albeit within realistic parameters.
“I wanted to try to inspire youth by showing that it doesn’t matter where you come from, what background, how many parents were in your life — all that matters is knowing what you want to do, knowing that you need to work hard and be super-duper patient in understanding that it’s going to take time to achieve your goals,” he said. “A lot of youth know that they want to get to a place where they are financially stable and happy, but they don’t realize it involves a lot of work and falling before they get to where they want to be.”
Martinez also started a third program, a daily pep talk called “10 Minutes 2 Tranzcendent” where he provides his views on facing and overcoming difficulties. And while his TOP Station duties keep him front and center, Martinez is eager to get more talent on the air. “We’ll help them out and, depending on content, we’ll play it on our station.”
The TOP Station programs are live on Facebook, with the audio uploaded to Apple Podcast, Google Play and the TOPStationCT.com website. The Facebook video is later edited for YouTube. “10 Minutes 2 Tranzcendent” is also seen on Instagram TV, which can host videos up to 10 minutes in running time.
Martinez estimated his total startup costs, including the podcasting equipment, a high-definition monitor and a website, at around $5,000, which he self-financed. While he has already snagged one paying sponsor, he is keeping his focus on content building before actively pursuing paid advertisers — Martinez supplements his income as a personal trainer and is also a communications student at the University of Bridgeport.
To date, Martinez’s programming has built up a loyal audience — the live weekly talk shows on Facebook can bring between 900 and 1,000 viewers. But he’s not letting the Facebook statistics get to his ego.
“I understand a view on Facebook doesn’t mean somebody viewed the whole show — it could have been just two seconds,” he said. “But two seconds is fine with me, and I hope that they can tell somebody and talk about it.”