Raoul Cortez

Raoul Cortez is a true pioneer of Spanish language radio and television in the United States. Born in Veracruz, Mexico, in 1905, he came to San Antonio at an early age to seek his fortune, working first as a reporter for La Prensa newspaper and also as a salesman for the Pearl Brewing Company.

In the 1930s and 40s Cortez owned and operated a Theatrical Agency that introduced top Mexican and Latin American entertainers to the U.S. In 1940 he began buying airtime on KMAC Radio and producing Spanish variety hours for the station. In 1944 Cortez applied for a license to open his own radio station. To get around wartime restrictions on foreign language media, he stated that part of the station’s purpose was to mobilize the Mexican-American community behind the war effort.

In 1946 KCOR-AM went on the air…. the first full-time Spanish language radio station in the country owned and operated by a Hispanic. It is still on the air today with the same call letters that bear a portion of his last name. Cortez also formed the "Sombrero" radio network…a chain of stations across the country that banded together in order to improve and promote radio broadcasts.

In 1955 Cortez expanded his broadcasting operations to include television when he launched KCOR-TV Channel 41. This was the first television station aimed solely at the Hispanic market, as well as the first UHF station.

Cortez passed away in 1971. In 1981 the City of San Antonio named the Raoul A. Cortez Branch Library in recognition of his accomplishments. In 2006 the National Association of Broadcasters gave its Spirit of Broadcasting Award jointly to Cortez and his son-in-law, Emilio Nicolas. In 2007 the professional publication, Radio Ink, created the Medallas de Cortez Hispanic Radio Award to recognize outstanding achievement and leadership in Hispanic radio.

Mr. Cortez is included in an exhibit recently opened at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History entitled “American Enterprise” … the story of innovation in American business history.