Mandalit del Barco

As a general assignment correspondent based at NPR West, Mandalit del Barco has reported and produced radio stories and photographed everything from street gangs to Hollywood, police and prisons, marijuana, immigration, race relations, natural disasters, Latino arts and urban street culture (including hip hop dance, music, and art). Every year, she covers the Oscars and the Grammy awards for NPR. Her news reports, feature stories and photos filed from Los Angeles and abroad can be heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, alt.latino and npr.org.

Her reporting has taken her throughout the United States, including Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York and Miami. Reporting further afield as well, del Barco traveled to Haiti to report on the aftermath of the devastating 2010 earthquake. She chronicled street gangs exported from the U.S. to El Salvador and Honduras and went to Mexico to report about immigrant smugglers, musicians, filmmakers and artists. In Argentina, del Barco profiled on tango legend Carlos Gardel and in the Philippines she reported a feature on balikbayan boxes and has Reporting from China, del Barco contributed to NPR's coverage of the United Nations' Women's Conference. She spent a year in Peru working on a documentary and teaching radio journalism as a Fulbright Fellow and on a fellowship with the Knight International Center For Journalists.

In addition to reporting daily stories, del Barco has created half-hour radio documentaries about gangs in Central America, Latino hip hop, L.A. Homegirls, artist Frida Kahlo, New York's Palladium ballroom and Puerto Rican "Casitas." She has served as a guest host on Latino USA and Tell Me More.

Before moving to Los Angeles, del Barco was a reporter for NPR Member station WNYC in New York City. She started her radio career on the production staff of NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday with Scott Simon. However her first taste for radio came as a teenager, when she and her brother won an award for an NPR children's radio contest.

del Barco's reporting experience extends into newspaper and magazines. She served on the staffs of The Miami Herald and The Village Voice and has done freelance reporting. She has written articles for Latina magazine and reported for the weekly radio show Latino USA.

Stories written by del Barco have appeared in several books including "Las Christmas: Favorite Latino Authors Share their Holiday Memories" (Vintage Books) and "Las Mamis: Favorite Latino Authors Remember their Mothers" (Vintage Books). del Barco contributed to an anthology on rap music and hip hop culture in the book, "Droppin' Science" (Temple University Press).

Peruvian writer Julio Villanueva Chang profiled del Barco's life and career for the book "Se Habla Espanol: Voces Latinas en USA." (Alfaguara press)

She mentors young journalists through NPR's "Next Generation", Global Girl, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and on her own throughout the U.S. and Latin America.

A fourth generation journalist, del Barco was born in Lima, Peru, to a Peruvian father and Mexican-American mother. She grew up in Baldwin, Kansas, and in Oakland, California, and has lived in Manhattan, Madrid, Miami, Lima and Los Angeles. She began her journalism career as a reporter, columnist and editor for the Daily Californian while studying anthropology and rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley. She earned a Master's degree in journalism from Columbia University with her thesis, "Breakdancers: Who are they, and why are they spinning on their heads?"

For those who are curious where her name comes from, "Mandalit" is the name of a woman in a song from Carmina Burana, a musical work from the 13th century put to music in the 20th century by composer Carl Orff. The guys from Car Talk also pay homage to her in their phony end credits as "inventory manager Mandalit del Barcode."

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Crime In The City
2:58 am
Thu August 15, 2013

In 'Alphabet' Mysteries, 'S' Is Really For Santa Barbara

The Santa Barbara County Courthouse, a Spanish-Moorish landmark, was built in 1929.
Anna Fox (harshlight) Flickr

Originally published on Thu August 15, 2013 9:27 am

Novelist Sue Grafton is a real hoot. She's just as likely to talk, in that native Kentucky drawl of hers, about her prized silver-coin mint julep cups as about a juicy murder mystery. But she does have a crime writer's imagination.

"I always say to people, 'Don't cross me, OK? Because you will be so sorry,'" she says. "'I have ways to kill you you ain't even thought of yet.'"

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Race
3:01 am
Tue July 23, 2013

In The Summer, Univision Is Numero Uno

Pitbull and Jennifer Lopez recently performed on Univision's Premios Juventud.
Rodrigo Varela Univision

Originally published on Wed July 24, 2013 9:32 am

For three consecutive weeks this summer, Spanish-language TV network Univision won the prime-time ratings among young adult viewers. The network is bragging about its prime-time ratings domination with full-page ads in the LA Times, New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Its English-language video exclaims: "For the first time ever, Univision is now the number one network in any language."

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Code Switch
4:05 am
Tue July 2, 2013

Does Disney's Tonto Reinforce Stereotypes Or Overcome Them?

Johnny Depp says that with his portrayal of Tonto in The Lone Ranger, he tried to "right the wrongs of what had been done with regards to the representation of Native Americans in cinema."
Disney

Originally published on Tue July 9, 2013 1:00 pm

The Lone Ranger has long been a fictional hero, taming the Wild West with his trusty Indian guide, Tonto. The faithful companion helps the white man fight bad guys, and does so speaking in pidgin English.

Tonto made his first appearance on the radio in the 1930s, voiced by a non-Native American actor, John Todd. In the series, Western settlers face down what they call "redskins" and "savages." And trusty Tonto is always on hand to interpret the smoke signals.

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Monkey See
8:00 pm
Wed June 26, 2013

Telemundo's 'La Voz' Hands Latino Kids The Mic

Paola Guanche debuted with Adele's "Turning Tables."
Courtesy Telemundo

Originally published on Thu June 27, 2013 5:34 am

NBC's singing competition The Voice dominated the ratings game this spring and last fall. Now, the Spanish kids' version has become the top-rated show for NBC's sister network, Telemundo. The show, taped before an audience in Miami, features Latino children from the U.S. competing for a scholarship and a recording contract.

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Music News
3:16 am
Tue June 11, 2013

Spotlighting Background Singers In 'Twenty Feet From Stardom'

Darlene Love, one of the background singers featured in Twenty Feet From Stardom, didn't receive credit for singing hits in the 1950s and '60s and says her career was derailed by legendary producer Phil Spector.
Radius/TWC

Originally published on Tue June 11, 2013 10:22 am

Twenty Feet from Stardom, filmmaker Morgan Neville's new documentary, is a reminder that most of pop music's catchiest hooks, riffs and refrains were sung by voices harmonizing in the background. Neville says he wanted to put backup singers — black, female and honed in church — front and center.

"I was really more interested in people who were voices for hire," he says, "who were able to walk into sessions never knowing what they had to do and could bring it."

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