María Martin was a longtime journalist who created the Latino USA radio program and broadened coverage of Latin American news and events in the United States.
María Martin’s legacy
Born in Mexico City and raised in California, Martin earned a master’s in journalism from Ohio State University. She began her career in Santa Rosa, California, at KBBF, one of the country’s first bilingual radio stations, where she rose to the position of news director. After departing KBBF, she created “California En Revista,” a Spanish-language radio news magazine and later joined National Public Radio (NPR) on their “Latin Files” show. Martin was NPR’s first Latin American affairs editor on the national news desk.
In 1993, Martin took a leave of absence from NPR and, in conjunction with the University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Mexican American Studies, created the radio program “Latino USA.” Her goal was not just to cover Latino news, events, and people, but to also showcase Latino culture for other Americans. The show still airs today. Her focus on education through journalism continued when she founded the GraciasVida Center for Media in Guatemala, trained journalists throughout Central America, and published her memoir, “Crossing Borders, Building Bridges: A Journalist’s Heart in Latin America.”
Martin won the Best Voice On The Radio award from The Austin Chronicle, a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, and Unda-USA Gabriel Award for her reporting, and is an inductee into the National Association of Hispanic Journalists Hall of Fame.
“The idea of Latino USA was for the rest of America to understand Latinos in all of our beauty and all of our pain, news about Latinos to celebrate Latino culture.”—from a 2020 interview for Texas Public Radio
Tributes to María Martin