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Spanish Language Broadcast History - Fact Sheet

October 4, 2016

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is working to document and tell the story of Spanish-language broadcasting in the U.S. with an emphasis on television, as part of a new initiative, “Escuchame: the History of Spanish Language Broadcasting in the U.S.” The museum has world-class collections related to television but until recently had few objects that represented the founding of the first Spanish-language broadcast stations in San Juan, Puerto Rico and San Antonio, Texas in the 1950s and the development of networks beginning with the Spanish International Network in the 1960s through to the networks today known as Telemundo and Univision.

As part of the initiative, the museum is seeking to document stories from early Telemundo and Univision stations in Texas, New York, New Jersey, Miami, California and Puerto Rico as well as other public and independent stations and plans to collect a number of objects that could include business records, traffic log books, photographs of station personnel, scripts, recorded television footage and promotional objects. Curators will select objects based on the stories they represent as well as insight into personal and community histories involving Spanish language broadcasting. The museum’s goal is to identify and collect materials that help document the history of Spanish-language television.

The museum collected from KCOR, a radio station opened by Raoul A. Cortez in 1946, in San Antonio, Texas, where he broadcast in Spanish and addressed the needs of the Mexican American and immigrant communities. He would later receive a broadcasting license for KCOR-TV which would become KWEX-TV in the early 1960s. The museum highlighted Cortez’ story in the biography wall of its business exhibition, “American Enterprise” and his story and influence on broadcast media were featured in the 2015 inaugural display in the exhibit’s “New Perspectives” case. The typewriter Cortez used when he began his career at Spanish-language newspaper, La Prensa was on display as was a KCOR radio microphone and an iconic Aztec mask from the KWEX-TV building.

Materials from the career of New York-based broadcaster, theater and screen actress and author Gilda Miros were recently added to the national collections. Born in Puerto Rico, Miros worked with numerous radio and television stations including WADO-AM, WJIT-AM and WBNX-AM radio stations in New York; WXTV-TV, Channel 41 (Univision) and WNJU-TV, Channel 47 (Telemundo), both in the New York metropolitan area; While working for the Spanish Broadcasting System at WQBA-AM in Miami, she hosted the first national live daily show to run simultaneously in New York and Los Angeles from Florida. Miros also worked at WWFE-AM in Miami as well as for the national Telemundo Television Network and Telemiami Cable Network. Her career began in the 1960s in cinema and on TV dramas. By the 1970s, Miros was a reporter, talk show host, producer and dubbed on EWTN, the global Catholic network. She is currently working on “Latin Icons Past and Present” on NYC Cable and is participating in The Performing Arts Legacy Project.

For more information, visit The National Museum of American History is located on Constitution Avenue, between 12th and 14th streets N.W., and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free. For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000.