A humble trailblazer
She was the first Latina anchor in Phoenix local news. This week we’re catching up with Linda Alvarez as part of our homecoming week.
"I wouldn't walk down the street thinking, 'hey, I'm a Latina journalist.' I walked down the street thinking how lucky I was to be in Phoenix," Linda said.
Joe Dana on Linda:
Phoenix attorney Daniel Ortega was a political activist in the early 1980’s when he remembers first seeing a fresh new face on the NBC affiliate, 12 News. The anchor was Linda Alvarez.
“She wasn’t just Linda Alvarez,” Ortega said, pronouncing the name with an English accent. “She was Linda Alvarez,” said Ortega with zest, stressing the Spanish accent.
That style would become Alvarez’s signature introduction throughout her career. Her presence signified a pivotal era in the Phoenix news media when Latino voices began contributing to the airwaves in a major way.
“For the Latino community, we had finally broken that barrier to be a lead anchor on a major channel,” Ortega said.
Alvarez co-anchored 12 News in the late 1970’s through 1985, becoming the first Latina to fill the position in the Valley. Over the course of the next 22 years, Alvarez anchored the weekday news in her hometown of Los Angeles for CBS-owned KCBS-TV and KCAL-TV.
MORE: Linda Alvarez laughs during a news segment
Speaking to 12 News for “Homecoming Week” from her house in Santa Monica, CA, Alvarez talked about what it was like to be a trailblazer in the field of broadcast journalism and why she always pronounced her name on-air with a Spanish accent.
“I did it for my grandmother,” Alvarez said. “She was very proud of our heritage and she instilled that pride in us.”
During her time in Phoenix, Alvarez helped launch the Hispanic Women’s Conference, a national event that continues today. Alvarez was credited with using her clout to recruit sponsors for the organization.
“She connected our community,” said Olga Aros, founder of the Hispanic Women’s Conference. “She also inspired hundreds of young Latinas to consider communications as a field of study.”
Alvarez says she didn’t consider herself breaking new ground when she started her job in Arizona as a co-anchor and reporter.
“I felt very accepted when I first started working in Phoenix,” Alvarez said. “More than a trailblazer, I was just grateful for the opportunity to work in a place like that.”
Today Linda is retired with her husband Leo Perez, an entrepreneur and former broadcast TV executive. Alvarez has stayed active by traveling and volunteering.
“I love the ocean,” Alvarez said. “I can go on walks on the beach, so living is good. I’m very, very blessed.”
Our story with Linda Alvarez:
She enjoys spending time with her nieces and nephews and she follows the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“I’ll always consider myself a Dodger girl,” Alvarez said with a smile.
Looking back on her career, the adopted daughter of Arizona considers herself a story teller first.
“I think the most important thing is to be a good journalist,” Alvarez said. “Do a good job. Do your research. And be who you are.”
PHOTOS: Linda Alvarez joins 12 News Homecoming Week