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."

Remembrances
4:53 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Who Gave Voice To Latin America, Dies

Admirers ask Gabriel Garcia Marquez --€” seated alongside his wife, Mercedes Barcha €-- to sign books in Santa Marta, Colombia, in 2007.
Alejandra Vega AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu April 17, 2014 8:06 pm

Latin American author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1982, died Thursday. He was 87. Garcia Marquez, the master of a style known as magic realism, was and remains Latin America's best-known writer.

His novels were filled with miraculous and enchanting events and characters; love and madness; wars, politics, dreams and death. And everything he had written, Garcia Marquez once said, he knew or heard before he was 8 years old.

A Writer Shaped By His Beginnings

Read more
Around the Nation
7:06 am
Tue January 7, 2014

Sunday Assembly: A Church For The Godless Picks Up Steam

Ian Dodd (center), co-founder of the Los Angeles chapter of Sunday Assembly, sings with other attendees. Chapters of the godless church, founded by British comedians Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans, have been spreading since launching in London in January 2013.
Jae C. Hong AP

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 3:41 pm

It sometimes feels like church in the auditorium of the Professional Musicians union in Hollywood. It's a Sunday morning, and hundreds of people are gathered to meditate, sing and listen to inspirational poetry and stories.

But then the live band starts up — performing songs by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Jerry Lee Lewis. And instead of a sermon, there's a lecture by experimental psychologist and neuroscientist Jessica Cail about the biology of gender identification and sexual orientation.

Read more
Arts and Humanities
7:22 am
Sun August 18, 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.'"

Read more
Code Switch
9:46 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.

Read more
Monkey See
9:28 am
Mon February 25, 2013

What You Didn't See At The Academy Awards

Actress Jennifer Lawrence stumbles as she walks on stage.
Chris Pizzelo AP

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 8:06 pm

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

Read more