Back to US Life Histories

Yesenia Martinez
COMM 330

Radio

Starting in chronological order, the earliest recollection that I have of media entering my life is when I was about 3 years old. I am the youngest of four children and I was the last to detach from my parent's bed and join my other two sisters in their room. I remember that I would always sleep on the side of the bed that was nearest to the wall and my father always kept his radio on (low) all night on some Spanish station that played mellow music.

I remember having/developing a few favorite songs that would come on almost every night. I know that one of the artist's names is Marisela and I still love that same song! My mother is a witness to this because whenever the song comes on, I hear that story about how when I was 6 months to 1 year old (I have no recollection of this) she says that I would open my eyes wide to any type of music. She found this kind of peculiar, so she did a little experiment. She would sneak and turn off the radio and I would begin to sob. When she turned it back on, I would open my eyes again, listen, and start to giggle.

This might have been my first encounter with a type of media and the beginning of my loving music. When I was about 4 years old, my grandfather (from my father's side) was here in Chicago. My older sister Sandra and I loved to hear him sing. He developed two unique tunes from a Spanish TV commercial that he would hum to us. I had my own and she had her own. We would go stand by him and he immediately began to hum my tune and I would "dance" (so I thought I was dancing). It was simply bending our knees rapidly and constantly until my tune was over, then it was her turn. Now I understand why the adults absolutely loved it and were amused by it. At family gatherings, they would tell us to go to my grandfather so we can dance. I remember that we would get an applause at the end. I don't remember exactly when and how we finally snapped out of this little phase and stopped doing our little shows.

Another one of my earliest recollections of media entering and influencing my life was when I was about 6 - 7 years old. I was having my breakfast at the kitchen table. I was eating oatmeal or cereal, something in a small round bowl. My father was sitting across from me and he had the radio on, like every morning. He was listening to 560 AM "La Tremenda" because he could not start his day without hearing the morning news or knowing what was occurring around the world.

After my breakfast, my mother would brush my waist-long brown hair and braid it. During one of these mornings, I was in my usual chair and my father was in his but something peculiar happened on this day. Something that would affect me until this day. My father told me that I had the voice of a radio personality (broadcaster). He said that I spoke very well, loud, and clear. He even said that I sounded like Luisa Torres, a rather popular female radio broadcaster at the time. At the time, it must have just gone in one ear and out the other. I was little and I wanted to be a schoolteacher, like every kid does, to have the joy of writing on the chalkboard and correcting papers in red ink.

At 13 years of age, I went through the New Kids on the Block phase. I was in eighth grade and began spending money that my parents did not have. My sisters and me did not resist the temptation to have pins, T-shirts, posters, magazines, etc. They were everywhere around us: television, radio, magazines, T-shirts, caps, bags, etc. and we had to have it all, just like many other girls our age had at the time. I even went to one of their concerts, which took place at Alpine Valley. My parents drove us out there and waited in the car until it was over.
Another thing that we did as a family (besides N.K.O.T.B. concerts) was watch movies. I remember one in particular called "Mi Familia". This was a great movie in my opinion. It portrays the reality of many Mexicans and what they went through when they got to the United States as immigrants. One arrives here with a sense of feeling foreign but eventually many people become independent and successful. We were able to relate to the characters in this movie in some way or the other. I know that the daughter "Tony" motivated me to study and be successful in life and not live a stereotypical Mexican life. I chose never to be one to stay at home and just have kids and depend entirely on my husband to support me. I have seen this in some of my aunts and I don't like that lifestyle, therefore I have been motivated to be independent and hopefully successful someday.

In June of 1997, at the age of 19, I joined a local community radio station. It was then called WCYC 90.5 FM "Stereo Joven". They played English and Spanish music and they would broadcast 24 hours a day. It was composed almost entirely of young Latino students. This was my opportunity to give it a shot at what my father wanted me to do and had faith that I would be good at it. He passed away in April of 1995 but I am sure that if he were here today, he would be very happy to see me getting started on what he once had foreseen.

Currently, at 21 years of age, I am still a member of that same radio station but there have been a lot of changes. It is now owned and licensed by the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum in Pilsen. This brought about great changes for the station. It is now located at 18th St./Blue Island/Loomis. It is now called "Radio Arte" 90.5 FM and it is in a much bigger, better building. We have all new equipment and material to work with. I now broadcast three days out of the week. Two of the days I broadcast in Spanish and one in English.

To this day, I love what I do and I have plans to move to yet a bigger and better place to continue working. I do not know if I am doing this because of what my father once told me or simply because I have always wanted to do radio broadcasting. For now, I plan to continue working at this radio station. I want to improve my skills and hopefully someday have something of my own that I can run. There are not currently too many Latino radio stations in Chicago. There has been a recent opening of a station called "La Ley" on 107.9 FM and this also motivates me to achieve my goal.

Back to US Life Histories