“I don’t listen to offers from other networks because I am clear that I want to continue at Atresmedia”

The thing about Alfonso Arús On La Sexta it could be described as a miracle, because closing the season with 17.8% on a channel with an average of 6.5% is like multiplying the loaves (share) and the fishes (viewers). But everything is much more earthly. Its success is based on the audacity of someone who knew how to innovate with an unprecedented format in Spainthe ability to adapt to the fresh language of an audience that wants to wake up with A little information and a pinch of entertainment and, above all, the experience of a Solvent and grease equipment that every day sets the machine in motion Aruser@s.

With this recipe he beats all his rivals between 7:00 and 11:00. He is the leader. The king. But he denies that title. “I call myself the morning buffalo”he jokes. And that nickname doesn’t suit him badly if we take into account the sense of smell, vigor and strength of this format creator – he has come up with all the ones he has presented, except First class videos– which kicks off the daily programming of a channel that broadcasts live for more than 15 consecutive hours.

What time does a presenter get up if he is already in front of the camera at 7:00?

I get up at 2:55, read all the media, start handing out topics to my team… The truth is that I don’t sleep much, because I’ve spent half my life making programmes at this time. I go to sleep at 10:00 p.m.

What do you eat for breakfast at that time?

Not much, toast with ham and turkey and a juice. Not much. I can handle it less at night. There are great night-time presenters who thrive in the early hours of the morning. Not me, I fade away at that time. But at 7:00 I don’t need anything, I don’t even drink coffee, I’m on fire. And it’s gratifying to know that at 11:00 you’ve already finished. It’s a tiring programme, but I wouldn’t change it for anything.

Does working with your family help you cope better?

It helps not to have to talk about work at home because everything has already been said. I have been accused, and rightly so, of doing a programme with the whole family, but if they were not prepared they would not be there. And not only are they not out of place, but they are all prepared. It is a family business, yes, just like there are haberdasheries that are also.

On a small channel you have a very large audience. When you have so much share, do you allow yourself to stop looking at the audiences?

Even if no one believes me, I am more concerned about how the programme turns out than the figures I get that day. I care a lot about quality, that I see that things are going well. And if there is a good audience, all the better. But I have never felt pressure at La Sexta, not with 9% or 20%.

But with almost 20% you live better…

Yes, that’s for sure (laughs). But we can never relax, because our programme is live and all the others, at that time, are too. We have to be very attentive to everything that can happen nowadays.

Can we call you the king of mornings?

No, no. It’s a horrible title. For me, the queen of mornings was María Teresa Campos. Not because she had more or less audiences, but because she invented a concept that included all genres: political debate, humor, gossip… She mixed it wonderfully and has served as a reference for those who came after her.

That honorary title doesn’t interest me in the least. I’d rather people believed that I innovated something, because I created a new format, but not because I had more or less audience. Pepe Navarro created a new format when he did the mornings – that thing about ‘Do you have hair on your tongue?’ – and he has received little recognition. Hermida also came up with many things. The queen of the mornings came about because women competed and now it has been moved to the afternoons… I call myself the buffalo of the mornings, as I might call myself the bison. Titles are temporary.

Aruser@s mixes entertainment and current affairs. Is the trick of your programme being flexible enough to adapt to each situation?

Yes, we are clear that we cannot compete in media with the three major networks, but we can provide a lot of very concise information and combine it with entertainment. That is our trump card. The others cannot do it, because they deal with current affairs in a more in-depth way. With that infotainment We have found a good way to make people feel a little less stressed than if they watch other programs.

Start the day a little more relaxed, without the tension of political debates…

I started in radio doing Arús with milkwhich is very similar to what we do now. In 1985 I created the first format of humorning I’ve been doing it on the radio, and now we’ve done it on television. I do the programme I like, where you find out things and have a good time. I don’t know how to do humour like José Mota or Martes y 13 can. I need current events, to bring them to my field and mix them with entertainment. I feel comfortable like that and it shows.

Some people have tried to do a morning show in Spain, like the Americans, but no one has succeeded. Why did you?

I have to thank him for it. [Javier] Bardají, the CEO of Atresmedia, because I was very insistent. I had a good offer from another channel [Mediaset] and Atresmedia bid for me. When they asked me what I wanted to do, I said Aruser@s and they were surprised, because nobody had done it before. They saw that I was so excited that they let me do it. In Spain we have a great radio culture in the mornings, but on television it was unthinkable.

Have you taken away listeners from the radio?

I don’t think so. And I haven’t taken away many viewers from other television programs either. I think we’ve created a new audience with a scattered audience – a bunch of clueless, funny people – who didn’t have a clear reference point, and we’ve been gradually bringing them together. And they are very loyal viewers.

After six years and with these results, has Mediaset or another channel tried to sign you again?

The truth is that a direct offer is not the case. Contacts always come about in a timid manner and I have always tried to avoid them because I am clear that I want to continue at Atresmedia. Playing at getting offers to increase my salary is not my style. The most honest thing to do is to say that you are fine and that you do not want to change your surroundings.

Coexistence with Ferreras has been good during these six years and he has respected your schedule. Did you expect it to be so easy?

That was the first thing everyone told me. But I must admit that he has been absolutely respectful with us. He has not had any kind of interference in the programme, on the contrary, he lets us work naturally. And unless there is something spectacular, we have kept our schedule. And if it has not happened that way, it has also been my decision. When something has happened, I am the first one to understand that La Sexta has to make a special and broadcast it. It was harder for me to deal with José María García on the radio, because my programme was after his. I had to finish at 01.00 and sometimes I finished at 02.15 (laughs).

Have you had any disagreements with Susanna Griso over the ratings battle?

No, no. Susanna and I have a very good relationship. From what I have spoken to the bosses – I don’t talk to them much so as not to bother them – what matters to them is the sum of the two programmes, as a group. I swear they are delighted, because we add up generously compared to the competition.

You have a very solid team. What are you like as a boss?

I’m too good a boss because I let people do a lot. I’m not one for meetings or arguments, but I am demanding and they know it. Aruser@s It has soul because the collaborators have soul, they have an optimistic tone, they inspire morale, they don’t step on each other’s toes and they don’t show bad vibes. The program is like a football match and you can’t let your guard down at any time. And, as a boss, I think I achieve that feeling that the pace never drops and that the intensity is high.

Rhythm is one of the hallmarks of Aruser@s.

It’s a generational thing. When we started, they told us we were going too fast, but people have changed and now the public goes at a pace that is not what I did when I was young. Aruser@s It is quite suited to the new consumption that there is, the generations that are moving at a very high pace. This is the only way that general television has of capturing this public because, if not, they consume other audiovisual content.

Do programmes like yours prove that free-to-air television is more alive than ever?

It was also said that radio was finished. And it holds up like a champion. Television, too. There are many platforms with series and films, but when something happens, people go to general television. And when the programme is good, the public looks to television for entertainment. People are entertained and informed by general television.

How do you get involved in keeping up with new trends and audience tastes?

It’s my duty. I pay attention to the way my children consume. You can’t overwhelm 50-year-old viewers, but we’ve already accustomed them and now we have a good audience of that age. They are no longer surprised by such fast-paced content.

The classic magazines of the big chains have introduced viral video sections, as has been done Aruser@s. Be aware?

Not only have they introduced it, but they have taken the same videos. I hope that one day they will send me a ham. When the video goes viral, I don’t like it. I put them on first thing in the morning and then I take them off, but when you broadcast a very strange video and then you see it on another programme… it’s suspicious. But the differential value is that many programmes put videos on without integrating them and we integrate them into the programme’s discourse. They are justified. Putting videos on for the sake of putting them on doesn’t appeal to me.

What limits does Atresmedia put on you when it comes to talking about topics or characters from other channels?

I’ve been in this for many years. I started when I was 21 and I’m 63. I’m very old and I know what can bother them or what can put them in a difficult position. They don’t need to call me, because I already know what can harm them. I’ve been here for six years and I haven’t caused a fire at Atresmedia. It’s obvious. I’ve worked at SER, at Cope and everywhere I’ve known how things work and I’ve never had any problems. If you’re at Cope, for example, the logical thing is not to attack the Church. That’s not censorship, but pure logic. Now I’m at Atresmedia and I understand that anything related to Mediaset can be analysed in a way that may or may not be optimal. I prefer not to have to be called.

TVE is more of a surprise to you. How do you see Broncano’s signing?

In addition to being a public service, I understand that TVE wants to be competitive. Broncano is an option for access, like Carlos Latre for Telecinco, but The Anthill and Pablo Motos have many years of advantage as a talk show. It is the same thing that happened with Chinese TalesI think that for an access channel there are more differentiated formats that could also work. As a bet, I think that TVE has to try not to get out of line, at that time and others. People do watch TVE – they do with football – another thing is that they are not interested in it later. But it is a channel that can easily be revived because everyone knows La 1.