Maria Emilia Martinwho founded “Latin United States,” which is now the longest-running public radio program in the country covering Latino communities and which trained and mentored hundreds of journalists in Central and South America, died Dec. 2 at a hospice facility in Austin, Texas. She was 72 years old.

The cause was complications from the surgery, NPR’s arts correspondent said. Ship Mandalaita protégé of Mrs. Martin.

Mrs. Martin did not plan to pursue a career as a journalist. Like many of her peers, the civil rights movement had inspired her to think about organizing in the name of her cultural heritage as a Mexican American.

In the early 1970s, when she first heard KBBF, a Latino-owned and operated public radio station broadcasting from Santa Rosa, California, where she was a social worker, she signed up to volunteer to help produce a weekly talk. show dedicated to women’s issues, including sexuality, birth control and abortion. She was moved by the program’s powerful reach and by the particular impact it had on low-income farmworkers, who often called from pay phones with their questions so their husbands wouldn’t hear them.

One night he received a call from a woman who had overdosed on pills. As she remembers in her memoir, “Crossing Borders, Building Bridges: The Heart of a Journalist in Latin America” (2020), the woman asked for help because no one at the hospital where she was being treated could understand her. The idea that public radio could be not only a community resource but also a lifeline was, Martin wrote, an “aha moment” for her and she was hooked.

She left her social work job to join KBBF as director of news and public affairs. She later moved to a station in Seattle. She and she often worked as a freelancer.

In his memoirs, he wrote about his challenges getting ideas approved and about humorous exchanges with complaining editors, as one did when Martin was producing a series about efforts to boost tourism in war-torn Nicaragua. that he had interviewed too many people. locals and not enough Americans.

She joined NPR in the 1980s and became the organization’s Latino affairs editor. But she still fought to get her stories aired and she blamed a lack of diversity in management.

Frustrated, Ms. Martin left to work on a project, funded by the Ford Foundation and organized by the Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of Texas, Austin, to create a national radio program focused on Latinos. That became “Latino USA,” with the mission of covering Latino communities throughout the Americas, not just the United States. It can now be heard on 386 public radio stations in the United States and Canada. When it first aired in May 1993, President Bill Clinton attended its launch party.

During its decade-long tenure on “Latino USA,” the show covered elections in El Salvador and indigenous activism in Bolivia, as well as stories closer to home, such as the ravages of AIDS in the Latino community, the growing political power of Hispanic voters. and the human face of immigration.

“Maria taught me how to look into the future based on data,” María Hinojosa, the longtime “Latino USA” host, said by phone. “Latinos were at a turning point in the population, and María believed that if you did not cover the Latino reality on public radio, which has a declared commitment to diversity and reports unheard voices, you were not practicing ethical journalism or a excellent journalism. Period.

“Maria took this argument to members of Congress,” she continued, “who pressured the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to fund public radio to do so,” leading to Mrs. Martin taking the position of first and only editor of NPR Latino Affairs. “At NPR, this didn’t go well at first; “It was considered an affirmative and temporary action, which is why he left and created ‘Latino USA.’”

Ms. Hinojosa continued: “Maria taught me to practice journalism with heart and humanity, and wherever I go, when I travel around the country to small towns in the middle of nowhere, or at the airport in Oaxaca, Mexico, or in Alaska, people will stop me, cry and say, ‘My God, you changed my life with your show.’ I am the beneficiary, but Mary created that.”

María Emilia Martín was born on January 28, 1951 in Mexico City. Her mother, Adela García Ríos, was a secretary and her father, Charles McGlynn Martin, was a journalist originally from Chicago and the son of Irish immigrants. Ms. Martin wrote that her bilingual and bicultural family gave her the sensitivity and perspective of “the observer, the ‘outsider’.” She grew up in Arizona, Texas and San Francisco, and she remembers being punished for speaking Spanish in elementary school.

He attended the University of Portland in Oregon and Sonoma State University in California before dropping out to work at KBBF. In 1999, she said goodbye to “Latino USA” to pursue a master’s degree in journalism from Ohio State University.

Martin said she was forced to leave the program she created in 2003 because of conflicts over its mission. She moved to Antigua, Guatemala, and began producing a bilingual radio series focused on the people of Central America after its many civil wars: stories about young indigenous people who wanted to wear modern clothing instead of their traditional dress, or about deeply traumatized women. . individuals trying to recover from the massacres of their communities.

He also began training rural journalists in Guatemala, Bolivia and Nicaragua, and founded an organization, Thanks life, to do it. In the months before his death, he was reporting on the elections in his adopted country.

Mrs. Martin is survived by her three siblings, Christina Schmalz and Frank and John Martin.

“Maria created aural journeys to the battlefields of Central America, the farms of California and across the vast galaxy of ‘Latino culture,’” journalist Michelle García, who was once a producer and reporter for “Latino USA”. . “She took you ‘there’ and built a multiracial and multiethnic audience along the way.”

Ms. Garcia added: “She gave meaning and purpose to the now overused term ‘Representation Matters.’ And in doing so, she taught us what we could be, who we could be in the media world and that we could be heard.”