Dora G. Martinez - Pioneer Radio Broadcaster by Nick Gonzales

Some time ago, Mesteño editor Homero Vera told me that as a kid he regularly heard a Dora Martinez broadcast in Spanish over KBLP (now KPSO) in Falfurrias. He said he'd heard Dora was my sister. When I confirmed it, he added he'd like to print something on her in El Mesteño.

Homero recalls that when Dora read the obituaries, a very special background music was played - - and this custom has been retained to this day. He thinks Mesteño readers would like to know more about this pioneer Hispanic woman broadcaster.

I was in the USAF - - serving mostly in foreign countries - - when my sister Dora was doing her broadcasts. But thanks to her daughter Magda, to present KPSO owner and manager Raymond Creely, and to old news clippings I have enough information to do a short item on her work.

Dora was 78 when she died in a Premont nursing home in 1992 after a long illness. She was survived by her husband Domingo and her daughter Magda. In the early 1930s she moved from her native San Diego to live with us in Falfurrias. She had been staying there with an aunt. She met Domingo shortly thereafter and were soon married. A younger daughter, Rosario, died in 1968.

In the mid-1950s Dora had a job with KBLP translating news items from English to Spanish on paper. The late Humberto Gómez was an electrical engineer for the station - - but he had an additional task. There being no one around to read the articles Dora translated, Humberto did it.

Humberto got sick one day and could not come to work. My sister was asked if she wanted to try reading the stories that day, and she agreed to try. She found the task easy and got many calls congratulating her on the way she came across. And Gómez was relieved he didn't have to do the readings any more. For the next 23 years the afternoon programs in Spanish were done by Dora.

Magda says her mother became particularly good in translating the news items into Spanish. She amazed everyone by taking the just-arrived teletype messages in English and broadcasting them in Spanish! (While on duty in Panamá, I once was in charge of a 21-person section which translated technical USAF books from English to Spanish - - so I know about translation. What Dora was doing on a daily basis was miraculous!)

A 1992 paper quotes Falfurrias City Clerk Aurora Rodriguez as saying that Dora's broadcasts "were very well liked by everybody."

In her later years Dora was very active with the Brooks County Hospital Auxiliary, the American Cancer Society, and the Sacred Heart Catholic Church. She devoted many hours to those worthy organizations.


My Reflections on Dora G. Martinez - by Homer Vera

As a young boy growing up on a ranch in Duval county in the 1950s and then in Premont in the 1960s, radio was one of the primary sources for news. Mostly everyone would be tuned in to the local radio station in Falfurrias, KBLP now known as KPSO.

One of the announcers that I recall was a lady named Dora Martinez and even today even though I didn't personally know the lady, I can still remember her distinct voice. Maybe it was because when she read the obituaries, with the "Ave María" playing in the background, my mom would have my cousins and I all be quiet so that she could listen and find out who had passed away.

When I found out that Dora was our contributing writer Nick Gonzales's sister I told Nick that we needed to do a story on her because so many of the Mexican American families who spoke Spanish in Falfurrias-Premont and the surrounding ranchos of the area depended on her for their news and obituaries. She did a great service to the community through her interpretation skills. Nick has since written this short story on his sister Dora.

• return to Sample Stories