One of Los Angeles’ most recognizable voices and a CSUN alumnus is going national in what he is calling the highest point he has achieved in his career. In late May, NPR announced that it selected A Martinez ’95 (Journalism) to be the new co-host of its flagship “Morning Edition” program.
“This is the top of my particular corner of broadcast journalism,” Martinez said. Public radio, Public media, It doesn’t get any bigger, higher or better than NPR, and especially one of their signature shows. It’s ‘Morning Edition.’ It’s legacy. It’s heritage. It’s tradition.”
After a heralded sports talk radio career that included stints on ESPN LA and host of “Dodger Talk” and “Laker Line,” Martinez made a successful transition to broader news and public-service radio broadcasting, spending the last nine years building a loyal audience for KPCC’s “Take Two” — a Southern California-focused news magazine show.
Last October, Morning Edition co-host David Greene announced that he was leaving the program and NPR began a national search to find his successor. After guest-hosting in March and an extensive interview process, Martinez landed the highly coveted job. According to NPR, “Morning Edition” is the third most listened-to news radio show in the country.
“We are delighted to have A join the ‘Morning Edition’ team anchoring from the West Coast,” said Sarah Gilbert, NPR’s Vice President for News Programming. “He brings a remarkable record of journalism and empathy that allows him to truly connect with audiences and stories. He brings intelligence, a sense of humor and a deep curiosity that will fit right in with the show’s commitment to telling distinctive stories that make a difference to our understanding of the world.”
It has been an unlikely journey for Martinez to get to this point.
He attended four community colleges before transferring to and earning his print journalism degree at CSUN. His star rose in sports talk radio. Then, in 2012, KPCC recruited Martinez after the station received a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and looked to diversify its talent.
With a background in sports, Martinez had to shake off early prejudgments.
“When I first got hired there were all these emails, tweets and comments about, ‘What’s this sports guy doing on our public radio airwaves?’ I had to take a step back and realize, ‘OK, they don’t know anything about me other than what the facts in my bio say that I come from sports radio,” Martinez said. “I knew that, No. 1, I had to first learn the job because it’s a completely different job than what I had before. And then, understand that through my experiences, through being someone that was born and raised in Los Angeles, that eventually once they got to know me a little bit, and watched me and heard me grow in this job, that I could win people over.”
Martinez is the first Latino/a host in “Morning Edition’s” history — a program that began in 1979 and was hosted by media legend Bob Edwards. Martinez’s hire represents NPR’s stated efforts to diversify. In a February interview with “Current,” NPR CEO John Lansing said the organization “needed to double down our efforts in DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion).”
Martinez, an Ecuadorian-American, a CSUN graduate and a sports guy, said he hopes his hire will open the minds of others in positions to elevate talent.
“Hopefully, this sparks people who hire to say, ‘Hey, maybe we need to be looking for someone like him. And that means me in all forms — a community college kid, a Cal State Northridge kid, and a Latino. And maybe look for people like me and places that they wouldn’t be looking for,” Martinez said. “Be open to the possibility that maybe you can find the talent that will be part of your culture in places that are unconventional and flip over those rocks to see what you find.”