Ralph Mercado III, better known as Ralphie Mercado, has had music in his blood since the day he was born. The son of Latin music impresario Ralph Mercado was literally baptized into the music scene. It was a symbolic first step in his long and evolving journey through the many facets of the music and entertainment worlds.
Mercado first started exercising his musical talents at family gatherings, where he would always be asked to play the music and entertain guests. "I knew how to dance before I could walk," said Mercado. Mercado was also a recognizable face on television at the time. Between the ages of 3 and 8, Mercado was a child actor who appeared on several hit TV shows, including Sesame Street.
In his sophomore year at Paramus Catholic High School in New Jersey, Mercado officially joined the family business as an intern. He gained experience in producing concerts and worked in almost every department of his father's record label RMM Records. During summers and after school, Mercado would continue to work for his father, sometimes as much as nine hours a day, five days a week. In 1997 he worked on his first production, The 22nd New York Salsa Festival starring Jose Alberto, Marc Anthony, Celia Cruz, Oscar D'Leon and many others at Madison Square Garden.
He continued to help his father with day-of production, but at the same time Mercado was getting more into DJing. "I started DJing because it was fun and it came easy to me. I was able to earn more to repay some payday loans debts!" said Mercado, who took on the pseudonym DJ Wreck while playing teen parties at The Sound Garden in New Jersey and later changed his name to Ralphie Mercado. His DJ career has taken him to Los Angeles, Miami, Montreal, Japan, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and New York's Madison Square Garden, which Mercado called the highlight of his career, and maybe even his life. "There's nothing like seeing your name in lights at MSG," he said.
Around the same time, Mercado began working as a radio DJ at New York's WSKQ 97.9 FM La Mega and, quickly becoming a fan favorite, Mercado began doing mixes every Saturday for the king of radio, Mr. Polito Vega. He currently has his own mix show Saturday nights on SBS's flagship station, WSKQ 97.9 FM La Mega. Mercado also gained success in the recording studio, producing the popular song "Chan Chan" on the Grammy nominated album “Original” for Jose Alberto. In 2004, he helped produce and remix an album for El Gran Combo called Revisited, and today is helping produce music for up-and-coming artist.
A New Role
In 2007, everything changed. Mercado's father was forced to step down from running his business' after being diagnosed with a life threatening illness. Mercado took over all of his father's business entities on January 1, including Mercado's production company RMP, popular Midtown nightclub Latin Quarter and two Manhattan restaurants—Alma Grill and Zona Rosa. "I knew the businesses because I was around them so much," said Mercado, who gained a new appreciation for his father in the wake of his illness. "He built an empire and I'm just trying to maintain it. I'm a young guy and I can barely keep up. I wonder sometimes how he did it."
Though he would rather give the credit to his father than take it for himself, Mercado has built a very successful career for himself since taking over the family business. As president and CEO of RMP, he produced three sell-out shows in a row at Madison Square Garden, including the first show he ever ran from soup to nuts, Victor Manuel and Friends. He's since produced shows with Univision, sold out Marc Anthony and Romeo Santos shows at Madison Square Garden and more.
Mercado had also started a Madison Avenue marketing firm, theRMMgroup, and was a partner in the successful Babalu Restaurant in the Bronx.
Ralphie Mercado has become a force in the worlds of concerts, music, production and overall business, and he shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.