Mornings with A part one and a few short takes
It’s always fun to do a story on local talent that’s heading for a national engagement. A Martinez is about to leave Pasadena’s public radio outlet KPCC and head to NPR’s signature program “Morning Edition.” We were interested in exploring Martinez’s Southern California roots as he prepares for his new gig.
Martinez is a born-and-raised Angeleno, claiming downtown as his birthplace and being raised in Koreatown, near the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue. “My family moved from Ecuador in 1969 and I was born in 70.” He attended local schools, including Daniel Murphy High School. “The thing I remember most about my school years back then is being so glad that I was growing up in a big city and getting to know so many different kinds of people.”
The future sportscaster played high school baseball while at Murphy High School. “I was really terrible at concentrating in any class aside from English or history so I seemed to be drawn to storytelling.” His reading selections helped him prepare for sports journalism. “I spent way too much time reading baseball books from David Halberstam and Roger Angell and not enough on school text books.” Even before starting college, Martinez was practicing his craft. “I would watch a Dodger game, keep score and write a running story while giving myself a deadline of midnight to finish it. I'd make up quotes from players pretending that I had been in the clubhouse interviewing them after the game. Then the next morning I would compare my story with the work of all the Dodger beat writers to see how it stacked up. I did that all throughout my teens.”
As for his early years of listening to the radio, Martinez said “I first listened to Jaime Jarrin for the Dodgers. When my mom married my stepdad, I listened to 790 KABC and listened to all of the other shows including Michael Jackson, Ira Fistell, Ken and Bob. I also liked the friendly, easy going style of Charlie Tuna on KHTZ.” Martinez once sent a joke to Tuna which was read on the air. “(Tuna) awarded me the ‘Morning Wake Up Story Award’ which was an Alta Dena Dairy creamer which I still have. Years later I showed to Charlie when I had a chance to meet him.”
Martinez got his start in local radio with Steve Mason and John Ireland at XTRA Sports. He quickly impressed those around him. “From his earliest days as a board op on Mason & Ireland, he wanted to learn. And now he has done the work. He has become an exceptional broadcaster, and I am proud to call him a friend,” said Mason.
Former Mason & Ireland executive producer David Singer, now with NFL Networks, recalled the days when they broadcast from a small facility in the San Fernando Valley. “A and I, along with Mason, did our shenanigans during commercial breaks when we were doing the show out of Woodland Hills high atop a Hot Dog On a stick! He also provided the parody songs which he wrote for the show.” Singer said A “was always a great resource for the show when we were spitballing ideas.”
NEXT EDITION: How did George Martinez become A Martinez? Getting on the air. Making the move to Public Radio.
(Very) Short takes
Tim Conway Jr. and his producer Sheron Bellio were supposed to return to KFI evenings the day after Memorial Day. Instead, they were off the rest of the week, with guest host Mark Thompson promising their return the following Monday, June 7. Indeed, Conway and Bellio did return. They launched into an update about Covid-19 with their regular medical expert Dr. Ray Casciari. And that was it. No mention as to why Conway was gone (read about it here) or why he was missing a week longer than expected.
And on Wednesday morning, June 8, KFI's Bill Handel will return to his morning show, currently hosted by Gary Hoffman and Shannon Farren. Handel recently had back surgery and is expected to provide an update about his recovery.
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