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, and

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."

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.

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.

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."

For the past 42 years, José-Luis Orozco has been entertaining children with songs he sings in English and Spanish. He's passionate about teaching children to be bilingual through music, and he's also written books for kids.

"Let's say hello to each other," he says to a crowd of preschoolers at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. "Buenos días," he sings.

"Buenos días," they repeat in unison.

"Good morning," he sings back.

Ray Manzarek, the founding keyboardist of the Los Angeles rock band The Doors, died in a clinic in Germany on Monday after a lengthy battle with bile duct cancer, according to his publicist. He was 74.

The classic children's show Captain Kangaroo aired on TV for nearly 30 years, starting in 1955. After its creator and star, Bob Keeshan, died in 2004, his estate donated a few of his beloved hand puppets to the Smithsonian.

Now it's time to say goodbye to former Mouseketeer Annette Funicello. The singer, dancer and actress died April 8 at the age of 70, having battled multiple sclerosis for more than two decades.

Throughout her career, she was devoted to Walt Disney, who famously discovered her during a Swan Lake dance recital when she was just 12 years old.

People of all ages have been passing the time playing Angry Birds on their mobile devices. Now Rovio, the company that created the best-selling app, is offering fans a new cartoon series based on the game, which has so far been downloaded 1.7 billion times.

The concept behind Angry Birds is extremely simple: There are these colorful cartoon birds that are angry because some green pigs are after their eggs. Players of the digital game use slingshots to catapult the birds — who don't fly — to destroy structures hiding the pigs.



"The Wizard of Oz" means to a lot of people, a young Judy Garland in sparkly ruby slippers. But in the hundred years since L. Frank Baum wrote the Oz stories, they, or stories featuring Oz characters, have been produced dozens of times. The latest, a prequel that opens in theaters this weekend, called "Oz the Great and Powerful."

NPR's Mandalit Del Barco has more.



Okay. The movies "Argo" and "Life of Pi" and the actors Daniel Day Lewis and Jennifer Lawrence were among the winners at last night's Academy Awards. NPR's Mandalit Del Barco was backstage.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO: It wasn't a Hollywood star who announced this year's Best Picture. That honor went to First Lady Michelle Obama via satellite from the White House.

MICHELLE OBAMA: And the Oscar goes to "Argo."

NPR's Sam Sanders and Mandalit del Barco were backstage at the Oscars on Sunday, covering the awards show. They sat in the press room, where winners go for interviews during and after the show. Here's a roundup of what they saw that you didn't see, in senior superlative form.

Most Likely To Stand By Her Man Until The End Of All Natural Time: Jennifer Garner

The film No revisits the moment in Chile's history when 56 percent of the country voted to oust a dictator from power. It's the tale of the ad campaign that helped persuade Chileans to cast their ballots against Gen. Augusto Pinochet in a national referendum.

"This is an epic story, the story of a triumph," says Director Pablo Larrain. "It's how they defeat a dictator — probably one of the biggest bastards that we ever had in humankind."

Among the hundreds of musicians vying for Grammy Awards this year is Al Walser, a Los Angeles-based disc jockey and singer whose song "I Can't Live Without You" is nominated in the best dance single category. Walser is not a widely known name — many Grammy nominees aren't — but he's competing in a category against some of pop music's heaviest hitters.

On 53rd Street and Vermont Avenue in South Los Angeles, violent members of at least six gangs run the streets. A landmark church is boarded up and tagged. There are liquor stores and abandoned lots. On Tuesday night, there was a drive-by shooting two blocks away, and folks are expecting retaliation. This is an area where murders, robberies and rapes are common — and so are guns.

"There's too many guns out there," says Randolph Wright, 18. "I can tell you right now, every hood has an AK[-47]. Regardless of whatever other gun they got, they have an AK."