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September 1969 - Mexican American Community Series '¡Ahora!' Airs

Jesus Trevino
Jesus Trevino in studio. | Photo: Courtesy Jesus Treviño

On September 1, 1969, the groundbreaking Mexican American community talk/magazine program, "¡Ahora!" premiered on KCET.

Hosted by Ed Moreno, Jesus Treviño and Esther Hansen, the program (meaning "Now!" in Spanish) was created from a Ford Foundation minority issues programming grant; and direct viewer feedback from KCET's previous Mexican American-themed series, "Cancion de la Raza;" as well as the need to quell an environment of rising community tensions - lessons learned from the aftermath of the 1965 Watts Riots - this time, stemming from the quality of education that Mexican American students were receiving at local public schools.

The half-hour program was broadcast live every Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. from KCET's satellite studio at 5237 East Beverly Boulevard in East Los Angeles, a converted two-story storefront building that was formerly a bank. The two-camera studio was situated on the ground floor, where passers-by can watch the live broadcasts, and the former bank's vault served as a control room space. The second floor of the building served as the administrative offices for the show.

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The first program featured members of the Mexican American Education Commission, the League of Mexican American Women, an interview with barrio artist Daniel Ramirez Aguilar, and a musical performance by the children of the Park Vista Headstart Project.

Later airings proved to be not only significant, but became vital to the Mexican American community. Co-host Jesus Treviño, with close ties to the student movement, decided to cover a planned student walkout at Roosevelt High School. While the walkout was big news in the community, it was still unbeknownst to even the school's administrators, who asked Trevino what the camera crews were doing in front of the school. But at 9 a.m., the students walked out in droves. Later that evening, with KCET having scooped the story, other news outlets came to the satellite studios to interview student walkout organizers. In February 1970, "¡Ahora!"'s coverage of a Chicano Moratorium march protesting the Vietnam War became a valuable asset for organizing the next march.

"¡Ahora!" ran for 175 episodes, ending in May, 1970. The show's satellite studio format would later inspire another community series, 1972's "Doin' It At The Storefront," which covered the African American community from a storefront in South Central L.A.

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