This year, Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB) marks its “Sweet 16,” celebrating sixteen years of developing, producing, and distributing media that portrays the richness of the Hispanic experience. LPB’s recent impact report highlights its achievements and awards over the years, and in September LPB will team with the “American Masters” series for a new documentary about the eminent photographer, the late Pedro E. Guerrero.
Since its founding, LPB has awarded over $10 million to independent producers, provided more than 200 hours of content for public television, and increased Latino viewership of PBS. LPB’s signature arts and culture program, “Voces,” has looked at everything from Latinas in Hollywood to the death of journalist Ruben Salazar to a Cuban woman who fought as a man during the Civil War. Other LPB programs include “America By The Numbers with Maria Hinojosa” and thelandmark multi-part documentary “Latino Americans.”
Sandie Viquez Pedlow, Executive Director of LPB, knew coming into her position four years ago that it would be a challenge. “With my background in public television, I saw this incredible opportunity,” she said. “I wanted to be a part of it, I wanted to help move the needle and engage audiences with Latino content.”
Part of Pedlow’s overall strategy has been to stimulate interest in Latino stories beyond the boundaries of Hispanic Heritage Month. “I wanted to take “Voces” out of Hispanic Heritage Month, because I want Latino programs (to be) on throughout the year. Let’s not just celebrate for a month, and then go back to (having) nothing else that is culturally relevant to our community on the schedule.”
Created in 1988 by Edward James Olmos and Marlene Dermer, Latino Public Broadcasting is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. According to their impact report, LPB programs have reached an estimated 84 million viewers on television, and won more than 80 awards, including the Peabody Award, NCLR’s Alma Award, and Imagen’s Norman Lear Award.
LPB’s reach and impact are significant. For example, the “Latino Americans” documentary series reached nearly three times as many Latinos than the typical PBS primetime program.
But for Pedlow, TV viewership is only a starting point. “We look to involve our audience with community engagement. We do partnerships at the local level for screenings, we do presentations to school groups and Latino civic organizations. We are expanding the footprint of the show into the community, so the conversations can go on.” LPB also repurposes its programming, creating digital learning kits that are distributed to schools across the country.