Alex Avila's Journalistic Work


Alex Avila is Senior Producer of NPR's Latino USA, a nationally syndicated journalistic radio program distributed by National Public Radio. Based at KUT Radio at the University of Texas at Austin, Latino USA is heard by nearly 400,000 weekly listeners on nearly 200 public radio and community stations.


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No Rules: The Life & Music of Esteban 'Steve' Jordan

For decades serious musicians have known that Esteban "Steve" Jordan is the world's best at taming the diatonic button accordion. But he has traditionally been a musical artist as elusive and reclusive as he is talented. Jordan spent a lifetime shunning the media. But after a near fatal bout of liver cancer, he is finally lifting the veil somewhat on his life and telling his story.

Latino USA's Alex Avila traveled to San Antonio to visit with this mysterious musical genius and produced this hour-long radio documentary titled, "No Rules: The Life & Music of Esteban 'Steve' Jordan." (Total Running Time: 59 mins.)

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(Originally produced September 15, 2008.)

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Walmart Creates 'Más Club' in Houston

Over the past few years, Walmart, which also operates hundreds of Sam's Club stores, has seen it's share of domestic revenues losing ground to foreign revenues. One growing market throughout the Southwest, however, has been Latino consumers. In an effort to cater to this growing market, Walmart created an experimental new store in Houston, Texas called "Más Club." It opened August 6th, 2009 and Alex Avila, of NPR's Latino USA, traveled to Houston to visit this new club.

Photos by Cecilia Martínez-Ávila.
(Produced August 22, 2009 for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered.)

Surviving the Depression & Segregation

Ben Sifuentes grew up in Austin, TX.

Retired pharmacist Ben Sifuentes was only 10 years old in 1938 when his father died, the year after his grandfather died. The oldest of five kids, Sifuentes did whatever he could to help feed his family in an era before food stamps, before free school lunch, and when Mexican-Americans faced severe discrimination. This is a first-person oral history.

(Recorded in October, 2008)

Latinos and Obesity: A Special Report

Obesity has its costs… not only in terms of economics, and health issues, but also in terms of psychological well-being, and quality of life. Obesity is a national problem, to be sure. But increasingly, obesity is a Latino problem in particular. Diet and exercise are, of course, what most experts say is needed. But why are Latinos not heeding the call for healthy change, especially when it comes to children?
Latino USA’s Alex Avila, Cecilia Martinez-Avila and Angela Maldonado examine Obesity in the Latino Community in this special program. (Total Running time: 59 minutes.)

Obesity Part 1
Obesity Part 2
Obesity Part 3
(Originally produced February 28, 2008.)

PBS, Latinos and World War II

The 1990 PBS documentary called The Civil War by Ric and Ken Burns was a monumental undertaking and a bonafide hit -- the first documentary in history to gross $100 million. It reinvented documentary story-telling and catapulted Ken Burns to public television stardom. Acclaimed historian Stephen Ambrose said that more Americans get their history from Ken Burns than from any other source. Just this past January (2007), PBS rewarded his efforts with an exclusive contract through the year 2022.
Latino USA's Alex Avila has been following a growing controversy at PBS, as Latino war veterans and activists say they don't understand why public televisions greatest chronicler of the American experience has a blind-spot.

(Originally produced April 6, 2007.)

Immigrant Family Crossing Experience

There are many ways that undocumented immigrants come to the U.S. Latino USA's Alex Avila met with one nuclear family that made the trip, but not at the same time and not in the same manner. (Total Running time: 6 minutes.)

(Originally produced October 4, 2007.)

Hillary's Latinos

During the presidential primaries, Latino voters turned out in record numbers, and the majority voted for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Her Latino outreach, say some observers, was as historic as her presidential run. But now that Sen. Barack Obama is the presumptive democratic nominee, and Clinton has pledged her support, will "Hillary's Latinos" as they are called follow her lead?
Latino USA's Alex Avila has more.

(Originally produced June 13, 2008.)