Latino Heroes Honored at Local Impact Awards Luncheon

11th Annual Impact Awards Luncheon11th Annual Impact Awards Luncheon11th Annual Impact Awards Luncheon11th Annual Impact Awards Luncheon11th Annual Impact Awards Luncheon11th Annual Impact Awards Luncheon11th Annual Impact Awards Luncheon

RACHEL YOUNG

5:08 am | September 13, 2013


In a year when the Dodgers have the possibility of winning the National League Western Division, the team’s two beloved sportscasters are in the spotlight in Pasadena. Last week Vin Scully was named the Grand Marshal of the 2014 Rose Parade, this week the Spanish voice of the Dodgers Jaime Jarrín was honored at a luncheon.

At the 11th Annual Impact Awards Luncheon hosted by Laura Diaz of Studio 11 LA and Rick Garcia of KCAL-TV, the National Hispanic Media Coalition honored five deserving individuals who have been champions for the Latino Community at the Westin Hotel on Thursday. The luncheon served as a reminder of the challenges the Latino community has overcome and continue to confront.

When Jarrín began in 1955 he broadcasted on KWKW, the only radio station for Spanish speakers at the time. This Ecuador native has seen vast changes for Latinos in his 55 years as a Spanish-language Dodger’s broadcaster.

“I am very pleased to have helped some of my colleagues come into the industry because they have seen my success and I know that they can do the same for themselves. I am glad I played a part in expanding the industry and giving more chances to Latinos on the radio and television industry,” Jarrín said.

At the event Jarrín was described as being a hall of famer, suave, debonair, and delighting generations of baseball fans with his passion for the game. Before he came to this country he had never seen a baseball game, but he fell in love with the game and was asked to be an announcer when KWKW first signed the deal in 1959. Former MLB pitcher Fernando Valenzuela also came to the luncheon to support his old friend.

“I am a radio man, I have always been a radio man and I will die as a radio man,” Jarrín said.

With Los Angeles county being forty-eight percent Latino, Honoree Kim Baldonado, NBC4 Southern California Reporter, was proud to be a part of a newsroom where one-third of the air staff is Latino. Baldonado was honored for ‘Excellence in Broadcast Journalism.’

“As a Latino on the news it’s a huge responsibility I believe to not only portray the Latino community accurately and fairly but also to conduct myself in a way that can be an example to other young Latinos,” Baldonado said.

She has been in this business for 27 years, seeing many new opportunities open up for Latino women since she began.

“I knew that it would be tough, competition is very intense in this industry and I actually had a few well-meaning adults try to steer me into a more practical career. They said ‘Frankly no one on TV looks like you, who’s going to hire you?’ For the most part they were right at the time. But there was one, Ana Chavez. She was a reporter here in LA and I thought if she could do it so could I,” Baldonado said. “I am thrilled that so much progress has been made and Latino reporters are no longer an anomaly in the business…. But much more needs to be done. Latinos lack in management positions in Television news.”

Geoff Harris has been a Writers Program Mentor at NHMC for ten years, training many Latino writers who are now employed by shows like “NCIS” and “GRIMM.”

“The barriers are slowly coming down. Now the networks are really looking for Latino writers because the Latino viewership has gone up. I think its now about 17 percent of the viewership in the country is Latino. So it’s much easier now than it was ten years ago,” Harris said.

While much progress has been made for Latinos in the news, partially due to these individual’s efforts, several gaps do still exist. Researcher Kirk Whisler has been dedicated to causes for the Latino community for more than thirty years including founding the National Association of Hispanic Pulications. He was honored for “Outstanding Service and Commitment to the Latino Community.”

“We’ve seen the changes come, but we’ve also seen the gaps. Biopic is so powerful in terms of capturing the history we need to share and presenting role models. I am very proud to live in a country where in the last three decades we’ve seen over 200 African American biopics created… I am ashamed to live in a country where we have fewer than two dozen Latino biopics focusing on Latinos born in the USA,” Whisler said. “It’s inexcusable that we have come so far in other ways and yet we have that gap. That’s the kind of thing that moves me, keeps me going.”

The final honoree, Sam Rubin of KTLA Morning News could not make the event. Rubiin was honored for having outstanding integrity in broadcast journalism, particularly for his courageous act with his on-air criticism of “The John & Ken Show,” who said inflammatory remarks against communities of color.

“We wanted to recognize Southern California media professionals and organizations, both public servants and community leaders whose achievement and generosity, spirit has benefited the region or community here in the southland. That’s why the event started and it’s been going strong for 11 years and we’re really excited this year,” Brenda Rivas said, who has been heading up this event the past three years.

The NHMC exists to ensure that Latinos are represented accurately and fairly both behind scenes and in front of the camera. This media advocacy and civil rights organization was established in 1986 to educate and influence the inclusion of Latinos at all levels of employment and challenge the use of negative Latino stereotypes.

Learn more about the organization at www.nhmc.org.