Maria Martin, the drive behind ‘Latino USA,’ dies at 72


Radio trailblazer Maria Martin died Saturday on the age of 72 following a latest medical process.

All through her 5 a long time as a journalist, Martin centered Latino voices each in the US and Latin America. She coated politics and Indigenous communities in Central America, and mentored reporters.

Martin was born in Mexico Metropolis and raised in California. She was a part of the group Mujeres por la Raza that fashioned at Sonoma State College in 1975. They have been invited for an interview at KBBF, the primary bilingual radio station within the U.S.

The Chicana group was later requested to host a weekly present on Friday nights known as “Somos Chicanas,” which formally launched Martin’s profession in radio.

“[We] did have an agenda, which was to permit the ladies listening to the radio to entry info they may not have entry to via different means,” Martin shared with “Latino USA” on their 30-year anniversary.

Alternatives elevated for minority voices in media on account of the civil rights motion, and Maria discovered herself on the forefront of public radio. She turned an editor for NPR’s short-lived “Latin File,” and later NPR’s first and solely Latin American affairs editor on the nationwide desk.

NPR correspondent Mandalit del Barco first labored with Martin on NPR’s “Latin File” and thought of Martin her “radio godmother.”

“I noticed her work her magic by inspiring different journalists and he or she at all times wished to get the reality out, do it proper and with respect,” del Barco mentioned. “She had this light approach about her that was actually lovely. She was an actual inspiration.”

In 1992, Martin left NPR and was approached by the Middle for Mexican American Research on the College of Texas to create a Latino-oriented information program.

“[We] might do a very good job. However we needed to be those in cost. We needed to be those with editorial management,” Martin shared with “Latino USA.”

Because of this, “Latino USA” was fashioned; it’s now the longest-running Latino public radio program within the U.S. Nonetheless, within the early 2000s Martin was reportedly compelled out of the present.

Martin then relocated to Antigua, Guatemala, to supply a 26-part bilingual radio documentary sequence the place she chronicled the lived experiences of Central Individuals a decade after the wars.

Whereas in Guatemala, she based the GraciasVida Middle for Media, a media advocacy program that trains unbiased journalists throughout the Americas.

Martin had spent the final decade coaching rural and Indigenous journalists in Guatemala, Bolivia and Nicaragua, and bettering the protection of Central America on U.S. public radio. She most lately coated the presidential election in Guatemala for NPR in July.

In 2015, Martin was inducted into the Nationwide Assn. of Hispanic Journalists Corridor of Fame. All through her lifetime, she was additionally awarded prestigious fellowships, together with a Fulbright, the John S. Knight Skilled Journalism Fellowship at Stanford College and the Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellowship granted by the Nationwide Endowment for Democracy.

In her 2020 e book “Crossing Bridges: A Journalist’s Coronary heart in Latin America,” Martin shared her obstacles in overcoming racism and sexism, and her imaginative and prescient for the subsequent technology of Latino journalists, significantly girls.

Her group, GraciasVida Middle for Media, writes that Martin died in a “peaceable” and “lovely approach.”


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