“We’ve all had crazy jobs that tell a thousand stories. But my crazy job was much more than that. It’s not every day you see the rise and fall of a small empire.” Something has kept the journalist Gonzalo García awake in recent years, he thought he saw him one night, when he worked at La Gaceta: Mario Conde was leaving an office with a group of mariachis.

Happened? Was it a hallucination? We will not make spoilers, but from his reasonable doubt Cuando fuimos la Fox was born, the podcast that Sonora premieres this Tuesday and that covers the history of Intereconomía, the shortest media empire in Spain with more than 40 former workers and high doses of surrealism.

“The bull that crosses the fields of Spain is now watching the Fox”. The tone of the sound documentary that Gonzalo García has written and directed together with Jerónimo Andreu cannot be more to the point. The weekend before the birth of the mythical bull television network, which combined the symbol of Wall Street with Spanish tradition, its creators spent concentrating on a television marathon with the stamp of Rupert Murdoch. To get ideas.

It was a disruptive element within the media landscape, Al Rojo Vivo and the gatherings of laSexta are copies of El gato al agua

Standing presenters, news from a sofa, shamelessly editorialized information… “It was a disruptive element in the Spanish media landscape. Red hot and the gatherings of La Sexta are copies of El gato al agua: the left had to respond to that political model at all hours”, recalls the former commentator of the former Intereconomía audiovisual flagship, Román Cendoya, and a personal friend of Julio Ariza, the Murdoch behind that small Spanish media empire that peaked in the midst of a crisis and he collapsed in full recovery. It was just the last of his paradoxes.

The first dates back to the late 90s, and laid the foundation for a modus operandi that spanned more than a decade and gave rise to, take air: a radio station, two magazines, a news agency, a television channel with a set inside a restaurant and an animated film production company with a Goya Award -yes, Intereconomía produced Tadeo Jones, don’t say that we hadn’t warned about surrealism-. Julio Ariza founded his empire on the ruins of collapsing media that he bought for a peseta at first, a euro at the turn of the century. He assumed his debts and the entire drafting of him. Thus ended the young editor of Bolsa Gonzalo García writing that Transformers III was “the best film of all time”.

At the origin was the radio: Ariza, recently ousted from the Catalan PP after the pact with Pujol that led Aznar to Moncloa, took over a station specializing in investment in 1997 that had ended up in the hands of the CEOE after becoming a potato hot that no one wanted. Radio Intereconomía, it was called, and it had its headquarters at Castellana 36, ​​probably the most expensive square meter in Madrid. In three years, the Intereconomía Group had added the weekly Época, the Trámite Parlamentario magazine, and the Fax Press agency, always with a very clear editorial line: economically liberal, socially conservative.

Julio Ariza unapologetically defended an ideology that had been hidden in Spain since the Transition

“Julio is a person with very deep ideas and principles, and he believes that today’s society has to disseminate and defend them and that the media have to be the instrument,” Cendoya describes on the phone from the Dominican Republic, let’s not fall short of exoticism . “Despite his training as a lawyer, he is a born communicator.” Those principles permeated all the media that he founded: “What was surprising was his forceful way of defending without complexes an ideology that had been hidden in Spain since the Transition.” The conservative Catholic right was back on the drawing board, and this time it was here to stay.

The change of government after 11-M was the definitive food for Ariza’s ambition: abortion, gay marriage, Education for Citizenship, historical memory… “We were the lifeline, hope against a Zapatero that did not stop destroying,” says former manager Luis Losada in the podcast. To really be the speaker of the right, a television was necessary, “the chain of discontent.” He returned to the offer for demolition, and on November 13, 2005, El Gato al Agua premiered. Ariza already had her Fox News. Four years later, he would complete his empire with a newspaper, yes, a ruined one.

When he returned from vacation, he had gone from writing about the stock market to being a film critic in an Intereconomía newspaper.

“He bought The Business Gazette when I was on vacation,” says Gonzalo García, “when I came back they had lost my suitcase, I didn’t have a house because I was moving, and I had gone from writing for the stock market to film criticism.” He landed in a company culture, to say the least, shocking. Priests hugging stewardesses in miniskirts, bodyguards with a biography that would fit into a Netflix documentary, businessmen of all stripes, established politicians and politicians to be consolidated… Even an octopus that guessed the electoral results.

In the middle of the financial crisis, Intereconomía invited its 800 employees to dinner at Christmas with the prior blessing of a priest. He raffled trips, hams, cars. Gonzalo got a TV that is still in the living room at home. “He grew beyond his possibilities, and he paid for it,” the journalist advances. Indeed, the fall was even more brilliant than the rise.

Rajoy wanted a party TV and found one of ideology and principles, so it got in the way

In December 2010, Publiespaña stopped marketing the advertising that fed Intereconomía. First lunge. A year later, Rajoy arrived at La Moncloa and never picked up the phone from Ariza again. “He wanted a party TV and he found one of ideology and principles, so it got in the way,” says Cendoya. Goodbye to institutional advertising. In 2012, the big cathodic stars of the group took to their heels and replicated their successful programs on other channels: El chiringuito landed on La Sexta; The rattlesnake, on Thirteen TV. Even the Episcopal Conference turned its back on him. And on February 13, 2014, Intereconomía went black.

“I was very showbiz but there was a very good atmosphere,” concedes Gonzalo García, “I suffered from the manipulation of the topics, but I also learned to move in a large company that functioned like a startup: it reinvented itself all the time.” To confirm if he saw or dreamed that surreal scene starring Mario Conde, you have to listen to his podcast. “Such peculiar things happened that people hardly even remember them anymore. Of course, I always get angry when someone messes with me for having worked at Intereconomía. In the end, he had many good things.”

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