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Raoul A. Cortez, the Father of Spanish-language Radio in the U.S., Is Celebrated with a Google Doodle

Today, we celebrate a Latino icon – and Google is joining in! 

Google has made it a point to honor what would have been Raoul A. Cortez‘s 118th birthday with a captivating Google Doodle. This homage pays tribute to a Latino who paved the way for so many of us. The Doodle was illustrated by Mexican American artist, Rafael Lopez. 

Credit: Google Doodle/ Rafael Lopez
Credit: Google Doodle/ Rafael Lopez

Cortez, born in Veracruz, Mexico, in 1905, was key to reshaping the landscape of media in the United States. It was his family’s migration to San Antonio, Texas that marked the beginning of a story that would solidify the impact Latinos can have on both the Latino community and the broader society within the U.S. The rest is history from there.  

Cortez’s introduction to the media world was through print media. Eager to get his feet wet, he started out as a reporter for “La Prensa,” a Spanish-language daily newspaper based in San Antonio. Yet, his ambitions soared far beyond the confines of traditional journalism. Cortez also had a knack for radio, which led him to purchase airtime on KMAC radio. There, he crafted Spanish songs, comedic acts, and sketches, captivating audiences with his creative prowess. 

In 1946, Cortez’s vision materialized into something historic. He launched the first Spanish-language radio station in the U.S., breaking new ground in a field that hadn’t been explored before. With the tagline “La Voz Mexicana,” Cortez’s radio show became a cultural cornerstone, connecting Latino communities across the nation. 

This Latino’s ambitions didn’t end with radio. His vision expanded, propelling him into television. He founded the first Latino-run American TV station in Spanish, yet again furthering his status as a trailblazer in the industry. 

Raoul A. Cortez Made an Impact Beyond Media

Still, Cortez’s impact extended far beyond the airwaves. He emerged as an advocate for civil rights, particularly for Latinos in the United States. His pivotal role in the historic court case, Delgado v. Bastrop Independent School District, dismantled the segregation of Mexican Americans in Texas public schools, shaping a more inclusive educational landscape. 

Raoul A. Cortez’s influence transcended his lifetime. His contributions to media excellence were acknowledged by the National Association of Broadcasters, who bestowed upon him the prestigious media excellence award. Additionally, the Medallas de Cortez Hispanic Radio Award was established by the trade publication Radio Ink, honoring Latino radio leaders and celebrating Cortez’s enduring influence. 

According to Google, in 2015, Cortez’s legacy found a permanent home in the American Enterprise exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. His historic media programs were recognized as integral components of the cultural history within the U.S., cementing his place among the nation’s most influential figures. 

Cortez’s legacy serves as an inspiration for generations to come, reminding us of the power the Latino community has – and why we should never give up.  

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