Chicanos Por La Causa to honor media pioneers  
Arizona Daily Star

Tucson, Arizona | Published:

By Lourdes Medrano
Eleven Spanish-language media pioneers will be honored at the Chicanos Por La Causa annual dinner on Thursday.
The honorees are "individuals who struggled and gambled to keep our native language and culture alive in radio, television and print," said Adela Gonzales, event organizer for the nonprofit group.
"They were at the forefront of educating and helping our community," she added. "They did play an important role in our past and in what we have today."
The pioneers are Ernesto V. Portillo Sr., Raśl Gamez Bogarin, Leyla Cattan, Bertha Gamez and Josie Velarde. Honored posthumously will be Don Jacinto Orozco, Henry and Tony Villegas, Lorenzo and Arnulfo Palma and Claudio Jimenez y Fernandez.
Their collective work will be remembered with clippings, audio and film from the days when they kept Mexican music and important community issues on the front burner.
Portillo, like several of his fellow honorees, spent years in radio beginning in the 1950s. Unlike today, Spanish radio was almost a novelty then, he said.
"There were no paths to follow," Portillo said, recalling the difficulties in luring advertisers to Spanish radio. Now, as the industry has grown along with the Hispanic population, many corporations invest in Spanish-language media as a matter of course, he noted.
Velarde, who was still in high school when she first delved into Spanish radio in 1969, remembers her more than two decades in radio with fondness.
"There was a lot of respect between the radio announcers and our audience," she said, adding that radio continues to be a force in helping to educate Tucson's Spanish-speaking community.
With its dinner, Chicanos Por La Causa will mark its 26th anniversary. The event is one of the community services agency's primary fund-raising events.
The funds benefit about 6,000 people each year through housing assistance, youth leadership development and educational programs.
● Contact reporter Lourdes Medrano at 573-4347 or