The transcripts of the television programme Aló Presidente, the centrepiece of President Hugo Chávez's media strategy, provide insight into the different ways in which his movement promoted the image of its leader and sought to solidify his emotionally charged connection with the Venezuelan masses. The study outlines the dynamics behind the changing format and content of Aló Presidente and places it within the context of earlier research on populist media use in Latin America. Although similar to its predecessors, the programme was a unique creation of Chavismo, designed to balance Chávez's knack for improvisation with a structure designed to curb his excesses and keep him on message. This led to occasional tension between Chávez and the media professionals charged with the programme's production. The article provides a corrective to inaccurate treatments in the media and scholarly literature, and offers new information on Aló Presidente to facilitate future comparative studies.