The host of Latino USA for all of its 17 years, Maria Hinojosa, is now its proprietor, too, along with producer Sean Collins, her partner in a new media company in the digital cloud.
Futuro Media Group, announced this month, starts off highly virtual and will get moreso. Hinojosa records her reports in a soundproofed closet in Harlem. Collins, her e.p. for five years and a former producer of All Things Considered, works in his hometown of St. Louis. They share audio and ProTools edits over an ISDN line.
The show grew out of the University of Texas’s Center for Mexican American Studies and KUT, which hired Hinojosa and founding producer Maria Martin to start it up in 1993. But the Austin connection will fade as UT licenses rights for the show to Futuro. NPR will continue to distribute the show.
Expect more announcements from Futuro. It’s raising funds, Collins says. “One of the first people we have to hire is a development director.” Hinojosa hopes Washington writer/producer Katie Davis will join the team. Davis has been a friend and colleague since college days at Columbia University’s WKCR.
Hinojosa and Collins are considering expanding Latino USA from 30 to 60 minutes, which would fit station schedules better, he says. They may begin a separate weekly news roundup in Spanish (Latino USA is produced largely in English), possibly for podcasting.
“We’re grateful for the fact that 135 stations are clearing the program,” Collins says. “I’m also aware that every 18-year-old has a smartphone to his ear.”
Long before Futuro, Hinojosa was expanding into new projects and media. For many years she reported for NPR or CNN while continuing to work on Latino USA.
Lately she’s been reporting regularly for Now on PBS and hosting a wide-ranging TV interview program for WGBH, One on One with Maria Hinojosa, which she calls “the most multicultural television show,” she says — thinking of Tavis Smiley and adding quickly, “that’s anchored by a woman.” The WGBH program also airs in Spanish on public TV’s V-me channel. She’s also writing her third book and plotting to become “a Facebook queen.”