Bilingual journalist Miguel Martinez-Valle from NBC10 joins the program to discuss how his earliest experiences led to a desire to pursue a career in journalism, and how he deals with having to deliver difficult news. He reveals his favorite story that he’s covered so far, and how he dealt with initial disappointments along the way.
Announcer: Welcome to Hidden Human, the podcast where we explore the stories behind the business leader. Get ready to hear insights from business leaders speaking candidly about how they became who they are today and the lessons they learned along the way. Now, here’s your host, Leadership Coach and speaker, Kelly Meerbott.
Kelly Meerbott: Welcome to the space where we reveal our personal humanity to reconnect with our shared humanity. Let’s begin our conversation with Miguel Martinez-Valle, bilingual reporter, NBC 10, Telemundo, and new acquaintance of mine, which I’m really excited to talk to. He’s just a wonderful person. His energy is so contagious. Miguel, thank you so much for taking time [crosstalk 00:00:55]-
Miguel Martinez: Thank you. Thank you for having me. I know we kept running into each other, so I was super excited when you approached me about this.
Kelly Meerbott: Tell me, everybody, we kind of know what reporters are seriously, but I would love to have your definition because, of course, it’s thrown around a lot in the media today, so clear it up for us. What do you really do?
Miguel Martinez: I think a reporter is a community storyteller, so our job is to go and no matter what your assignment is that day, is to make it matter to the community and to show… For me, it’s the greater Philadelphia and the Tri-State Area, people in Delaware, people in South Jersey, people in Pennsylvania, I want to make sure that the news I’m giving to them resonates with them and really is important to them because, if not, they’ll tune it out.
Kelly Meerbott: What was it in your soul and your heart that drew you to this work?
Miguel Martinez: It’s actually really funny. In fifth grade, I read the lunch menu over the loudspeaker [crosstalk 00:01:46]-
Kelly Meerbott: You did?
Miguel Martinez: In elementary school.
Kelly Meerbott: Do you remember what was on the menu?
Miguel Martinez: I don’t remember what was on the menu, but I remember how cool it felt being able to like inform people of what they were going to be able to order at lunch, and so middle school, I kept seeking out doing the announcements. I would like volunteer to do it, and then in high school, they started this TV program. I think it had started a few years before me, but they kind of were really amping it up when I was in ninth grade, and from there I kind of joined in. By my senior year, I was the main anchor at our high school and the program took off. It was just that fifth grade lunch menu that kind of sparked it.
Kelly Meerbott: I always say it’s between eight and 14 where something like pivotal happens. Once you did the lunch menu, did anybody give you feedback like, “Oh my God, this is what you should do”?
Miguel Martinez: It’s funny because I remember I thought I did great and I loved it, but my voice didn’t drop until like the summer going into eighth grade.
Kelly Meerbott: Did you have a Peter Brady moment where you were like squeaking and stuff?
Miguel Martinez: Yeah, I’m sure, and also it was probably just a very annoying voice to listen to. I had a very high voice as a kid, but then I do remember in eighth grade going in and doing the announcements and that’s when teachers started being like, “Wow, you have a good broadcasting voice.”
Kelly Meerbott: Wow. Where did you grow up, Miguel?
Miguel Martinez: I grew up in South Lyon, Michigan, which is right by Ann Arbor. It’s the Metro Detroit area. It’s a very small town. Very similar to some of like the… kind of a little bit off the mainline.
Kelly Meerbott: Sure, sure. What did Mom and Dad do?
Miguel Martinez: Typical Michiganders, my Dad works for Ford and my Mom also works in the auto industry, so it’s a big car family.
Kelly Meerbott: Oh, wow. You’re younger than me, so as a Millennial, I know a lot of you don’t have cars, you don’t drive [crosstalk 00:03:30]-
Miguel Martinez: I don’t. I sold my car when I moved here [crosstalk 00:03:31]-
Kelly Meerbott: You sold your car?
Miguel Martinez: And my Dad was a little sad about it, but I was like, “I don’t need a car. I live in Center City. Philly has a… we’re lucky with a pretty good public transport system. When our station was in Bala, you might know, we just moved into the new Comcast building, so when we were in Bala, I would just take the 44 and I would take it to work, but now I live right here, so I walk.
Kelly Meerbott: I know, and he walked into this beautiful coffee shop that we’re in, so if you hear some ambient noise, Miguel and I picked this for a reason. We wanted you to feel the warmth of Philadelphia. Going back to your childhood, do you have any siblings?
Miguel Martinez: I do. I’m the oldest of three, so I have two younger brothers. It’s all boys, so my Mom had her hands full.
Kelly Meerbott: Oh Lord. If your brothers were here and we had them in the room and I asked them what you were like as a child, what would they say?
Miguel Martinez: They would probably say annoying. I’m at least five years younger than them, so I was bossy and I was always kind of like… It’s interesting because growing up, my Dad would work and my Mom learned English but it took her a while, so I was always the one that would have to sit down and do homework with them. I kind of had to teach myself how to read and stuff, and so that gave me the sense of entitlement over them that by the time they were growing up, I would boss them around a lot more than like a normal brother. They felt like they had to listen to me because I had already… I was like that third parental figure. It’s totally different now. Now, it’s very much like they take care of me sometimes, but I still feel that entitlement.
Kelly Meerbott: Now, where is your family originally from?
Miguel Martinez: I was born in… We’re all from Guaymas Sonora, Mexico, which is Northern Mexico. It’s beautiful. You know Cabo?
Kelly Meerbott: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Miguel Martinez: It’s like if you take a boat across from Cabo, you kind of get in that region mainland side, but like beach and ocean.
Kelly Meerbott: Wow. That’s where that sparkling tan comes from. When I met Miguel, he was dressed as Aladdin, and we were at a Halloween party for a friend of ours, Bill Gehrman, and it was so great because their costume would stand out because not only did they have Aladdin, but they had Abu and the carpet. I turned around and I was like, “Who is this sparkling person?” Then, we just kind of hit it off.
Miguel Martinez: We went in the kitchen, right?
Kelly Meerbott: Yeah.
Miguel Martinez: That’s so funny, I remember that [crosstalk 00:05:35]-
Kelly Meerbott: We went in the kitchen. I was like, “I know this person is going to have an impact on my life somehow”, and here we are [crosstalk 00:05:41]-
Miguel Martinez: Oh my gosh, that’s so awesome. I love that.
Kelly Meerbott: Take me… I know for me as an Italian-American family, like there’s multi-generations that influence you. I know that’s kind of similar in the Hispanic culture, so [crosstalk 00:05:55]-
Miguel Martinez: Yes, a hundred percent.
Kelly Meerbott: Tell me about that, the multi-generations that had an impact on you as a child and what that was like.
Miguel Martinez: It is, like you said, it’s a lot of community kind of teaching and community raising, right?
Kelly Meerbott: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Miguel Martinez: My family is huge. Italians, I know their families are pretty big, too. My Dad is one of 10.
Kelly Meerbott: Oh my gosh.
Miguel Martinez: My Mom is one of six [crosstalk 00:06:15]-
Kelly Meerbott: Holy cow.
Miguel Martinez: And we’re really close to like our extended family, too [crosstalk 00:06:18]-
Kelly Meerbott: Right, cousins-
Miguel Martinez: Cousins, second cousins, so family reunions on my Dad’s side, we will have like an average show of 60 to 90 people [crosstalk 00:06:25]-
Kelly Meerbott: Holy cow.
Miguel Martinez: In the same place at the same time, and I know everyone’s names, I know everyone’s stories, everyone knows my name. I was raised by roughly 60 to 90 people on my Dad’s side and another 30 on my Mom’s side, and so they all played a role in my upbringing and it’s so interesting because you don’t realize how maybe strange that is until you… Growing up, my friends would always ask because I’d sometimes ditch plans with them to go hang out with my cousins and they’d be like, “Why do you want to hang out with your family so much?” I’m like, “I don’t know. I grew up and they were my friends.”
Kelly Meerbott: They’re like your brothers and sisters. For me, my family wasn’t nearly as big as yours, but my two aunts were participating, my grandmother, so like if you got in trouble with one person, it was like you’re in trouble with everybody.
Miguel Martinez: Or if you didn’t get caught by one person and you did something someone else caught you, it got around.
Kelly Meerbott: Oh yeah.
Miguel Martinez: You can’t really get away with much in a big family.
Kelly Meerbott: No, and it’s like a grapevine. You talk about the internet being fast, I don’t know about your family, but mine is just chitchatty. Okay, so you’re growing up in Michigan. Where did you decide to go to college?
Miguel Martinez: I went to Michigan State, which was…. I went to like a conference there for broadcasting when I was in high school. Just kind of fell in love with the campus. It’s 45 minutes away from home, so it was far enough to where I didn’t feel like I had to go home every weekend, but close enough to where like if I needed to go home or if I needed my parents to come up they could. I loved Michigan State.
Kelly Meerbott: Yeah, I mean [crosstalk 00:07:49]-
Miguel Martinez: Go Greens.
Kelly Meerbott: Michigan is beautiful. Wait, say that one more time?
Miguel Martinez: Go Green.
Kelly Meerbott: There you go. Go Green. We can’t gloss over that. You’re in Michigan, where is… Now, I will tell you a little-known fact about me. My first job out of college was for the NBC affiliate as an Associate Producer for WPTV in West Palm.
Miguel Martinez: Very cool, so fellow NBC alum [crosstalk 00:08:11]-
Kelly Meerbott: I’m not anywhere near you, honey, so don’t even… I don’t even claim to be in your class, but for a hot minute I thought I was going to be the next Diane Sawyer, and then [crosstalk 00:08:20]-
Miguel Martinez: I love that [crosstalk 00:08:21]-
Kelly Meerbott: Yeah, no, but they told me they were going to send me to like the middle of nowhere in Alabama and I would have to shoot everything and edit everything [crosstalk 00:08:29]. Did you have to do that?
Miguel Martinez: I got very, very lucky in that I… My senior year of college, instead of going on spring break, I went to this conference in Vegas and I had interned at Univision in New York the summer before. I went there and I knew there was like a job fair. I ran into the news director for Univision and I said, “Listen, I interned with you guys last summer. I want a job. I’m looking for a job.” She was like, “You know what? I know you don’t have”… All of my tapes were in English, and she was like, “I’ll do a test for you. I’ll let you do a script or whatever on air.” I did it and apparently I didn’t fail too badly. A few days later after I got back from Michigan, she called me and she offered me the job in Las Vegas, and I was applying to finish college. I was like, “Give me a few months. I haven’t finished college.”
Miguel Martinez: I took the job, obviously. Luckily, I had an uncle, yeah, right, with 90 family members you have family everywhere [crosstalk 00:09:23]-
Kelly Meerbott: They’re everywhere.
Miguel Martinez: I had an uncle, I stayed with him for a little bit, lived in Vegas. My first market was Vegas and it was in Spanish [crosstalk 00:09:28]-
Kelly Meerbott: What number is it?
Miguel Martinez: That’s market 40, which is… it’s a pretty good size market [crosstalk 00:09:35]-
Kelly Meerbott: That’s huge.
Miguel Martinez: I was definitely the youngest person there when I started, but Vegas was great. When I was with Univision, I was shooting, editing, doing all of my own things, plus learning how to write in Spanish [crosstalk 00:09:44]-
Kelly Meerbott: I mean [crosstalk 00:09:44]-
Miguel Martinez: Because I didn’t know how to write in Spanish, but I was [crosstalk 00:09:46]-
Kelly Meerbott: But you were fluent, though.
Miguel Martinez: I was fluent [crosstalk 00:09:48]-
Kelly Meerbott: Okay, got it [crosstalk 00:09:48]-
Miguel Martinez: I could speak [crosstalk 00:09:48]-
Kelly Meerbott: But you couldn’t write [crosstalk 00:09:49]-
Miguel Martinez: But I couldn’t write, so that was very stressful for me. A few months in, Fox5, the Fox affiliate in Vegas reached out to me because they wanted an English reporter that could speak Spanish, and I was there for two years and actually the link to get here happened there because Christine Maddela, who used to do the news here, was my mentor. Still is in Vegas and she was like, “I think Philly would be a great station for you. I think they’re really going to beat some newsness into you.” They have and this has been an amazing opportunity.
Kelly Meerbott: How long have you been here?
Miguel Martinez: I have been here now a year and a month, a little over that, a little over a year and a month. I got here December 2017.
Kelly Meerbott: Gotcha, gotcha. Oh, well, welcome. We love having you here. I got here in 2013, so [crosstalk 00:10:31]-
Miguel Martinez: Oh, cool.
Kelly Meerbott: I’m a transplant as well from South Florida and I was better at Spanish than I am now. In fact, that’s always a goal of mine is to learn to speak, but I don’t have a pretty accent like you.
Miguel Martinez: Any time you have to practice Spanish, you let me know.
Kelly Meerbott: I would love that. There are two things that I heard that my ears perked up on. One, tell me why diversity in the news and in life and in business is so important. I know, you know, but let’s [crosstalk 00:11:01]-
Miguel Martinez: Well, I just think representation is the important thing. Growing up, unless I was watching Spanish news, I didn’t really see myself on TV, which we’re in Michigan, so maybe… There’s a big Hispanic population but maybe not enough at the time when I was growing up-
Kelly Meerbott: Sure.
Miguel Martinez: To where I would see like a guy that looked like me on TV. I think now if I can be that person, and the big reason that I wanted to do both NBC and Telemundo and not just do either English or Spanish was I feel like on the English side, for a little brown kid in even South Philly to see me and be like, “Oh, he has two last names and his name is Hispanic and he clearly speaks Spanish. I could do that.” I think that’s awesome. That’s great, and then also on the Spanish side, same kind of thing to keep connecting with those roots. I love that opportunity of being able to do that.
Kelly Meerbott: For me, I love, and I know this a little bit about you, but I know that I like to see things from other people’s perspective to see where my gaps and blind spots are.
Miguel Martinez: A hundred percent.
Kelly Meerbott: What you just said about the little brown kid in South Philly listening to this, that’s part of the reason why I do this because I want somebody who is either a 16-year-old female or a 55-year-old man to listen to this and hear your story and say, “Oh, he is inspiring me by what he has gone through. I can do that, too.” One of the things that I always find is that people resonate with failures more than they do with success, so tell me about a failure that occurred in your life and career that you recovered from and what you learned from it.
Miguel Martinez: The big one that comes to mind is when I was at my first job in Vegas, I did not know how to write in Spanish and I remember there was a producer and people that worked there that would tell me like, “Hey, maybe this isn’t the job for you. You’re not good.”
Kelly Meerbott: Wow.
Miguel Martinez: I was green. It was my first job, I wasn’t good. I would get scared to go live. I was nervous because I knew I didn’t feel a hundred percent comfortable speaking in broadcast. I had felt comfortable speaking to my parents, but when you’re speaking on TV informing people it’s different. Maybe I wasn’t good, but the fact that they told me, “Maybe this isn’t for you, you should find a different job”, I remember very specifically she said, “If I wanted a pretty face to read what I was writing, I would just hire someone for half your pay on the street.”
Kelly Meerbott: Wow.
Miguel Martinez: I wasn’t even making that much, so I was like [crosstalk 00:13:19]-
Kelly Meerbott: My gosh.
Miguel Martinez: I was like… I literally remember I cried in the car, I had a car then, to my Mom and I was like, “I don’t think I’m cut out to be a journalist”, and then luckily the Fox affiliate called me, but it’s come full circle because even when I started here with Telemundo, it was still growing. I was still learning in how to write in Spanish, still getting comfortable speaking in Spanish, and English I feel like I can go on and on, obviously, but in Spanish I still felt nervous. This year, seeing the growth and seeing the support that my managers and my bosses and some of my best friends because we launched the morning show together are from the morning show, Syrmarie and Alondra and Jaime Manuel. They’ve helped me and they correct me and they do it in such a non-judgmental way and they do it in this way that encourages you to just keep going and-
Kelly Meerbott: Give me an example of that, like how they do it in a non-judgmental way.
Miguel Martinez: They’ll tease me. They’re my friends, so if I say a word, they’ll say… they’ll repeat it to me like how I said it, and sometimes I’ll roll the wrong R-
Kelly Meerbott: I wish I knew how to do that.
Miguel Martinez: And so they’ll be like… it’s the difference between carro and carro. Instead of like car, maybe I would say expensive, right?
Kelly Meerbott: Gotcha [crosstalk 00:14:33]-
Miguel Martinez: That’s what the R rolling would do, so they would like call me out on it, but they wouldn’t be like, “Hey, you messed up.” They would say like, “Hey, careful with that word.”
Kelly Meerbott: “Here’s the difference.”
Miguel Martinez: “Here’s the difference.”
Kelly Meerbott: I love that.
Miguel Martinez: It was so helpful and it still is, and like I said, I’m learning every day but I feel so much more comfortable going live now in Spanish, whereas if you had told me crying in that Vegas car that I was going to do it it in market 4, I would be like, “No.”
Kelly Meerbott: This is Kelly. Thanks so much for listening to Hidden Human. We love having you as part of our audience. As a thank you gift from us to you, click to kellymeerbott.com/downloadables to download our free white paper 7 Insights on Leadership From 20 Years Coaching Executives. That’s K-E-L-L-Y-M-E-E-R-B-O-T-T.com/downloadables. Thank you so much for being part of the Human Human family and make it a great day.
Kelly Meerbott: Explain market sizes. I know [crosstalk 00:15:38] but I don’t know if everybody would know what that is.
Miguel Martinez: Sure, so there’s like 200-plus TV markets in the United States and they range from… it’s based on viewership, how many people are watching that channel [crosstalk 00:15:49]-
Kelly Meerbott: Gotcha.
Miguel Martinez: Or that station.
Kelly Meerbott: Population [crosstalk 00:15:51]. Gotcha.
Miguel Martinez: Number one is New York, number two is L.A., number three is Chicago, and number four is Philadelphia. We’re well populated, obviously. We have Delaware and Jersey and everything, so it’s awesome. Number five I think is Dallas.
Kelly Meerbott: Do you want to go to Dallas?
Miguel Martinez: No, I was between here, Dallas and Chicago, and they flew me out here and I fell in love with the city instantly.
Kelly Meerbott: It’s so funny because it was between Chicago and Philadelphia for both my husband and I, and I’m such a nerd, I printed out both cities’ annual reports and read them and I was like, “Oh, Chicago is bankrupt. We’re not doing that.”
Miguel Martinez: Well, it’s funny because as cities, they have a very similar feel in that they’re big but not too big and they’re like important but not pretentious.
Kelly Meerbott: Right, exactly, and they’re walkable and the people are so nice-
Miguel Martinez: That’s it.
Kelly Meerbott: But the difference is we would have more -8 days here in Chicago.
Miguel Martinez: The storm that we had last week was one of the [crosstalk 00:16:45]-
Kelly Meerbott: The Polar Vortex?
Miguel Martinez: Yeah, was one of the moments because, of course, of reporting. You guys, my job is to tell you to not go outside by being outside and showing you how frozen I am. I remember-
Kelly Meerbott: Did you have hand warmers? How do you deck out [crosstalk 00:17:00]-
Miguel Martinez: I had everything [crosstalk 00:17:00]-
Kelly Meerbott: For that?
Miguel Martinez: I had like Under Armour on, I had then sweatpants over that, then jeans over the sweatpants and then snow pants [crosstalk 00:17:06]-
Kelly Meerbott: Oh my gosh.
Miguel Martinez: Same thing, like sweater, long sleeve shirt, gloves, hand warmers, my ear muffs because I don’t look good in hats, I kind of look like a turtle when I wear like the hats.
Kelly Meerbott: If you saw Miguel, he’s so beautiful, it’s hard to [crosstalk 00:17:18]-
Miguel Martinez: Oh my God [crosstalk 00:17:18]-
Kelly Meerbott: That’s hard to think he wouldn’t look good.
Miguel Martinez: No, I look like a turtle, so I wear ear muffs. The top of my head is cold but I can deal with that, but that was one of those moments where I was like, “Wow, did I make”… One of many moments where I was like, “I made the right choice. So happy I’m not in negative”… It got to like -20-something [crosstalk 00:17:34]-
Kelly Meerbott: Did it [crosstalk 00:17:34] really?
Miguel Martinez: Yeah, it was crazy.
Kelly Meerbott: That’s insane, that’s insane. For your great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren that may be listening to this, what kind of wisdom would you impart to them?
Miguel Martinez: Wisdom? I would say… I’d say don’t be afraid to be different and to be proud of who you are and to kind of bring that to the table, and don’t be afraid to be yourself. I think throughout my career, I’ve been on the younger end of every station that I’ve worked in and I think a lot of that pressure at the beginning was like, “I need to make myself seem older and more mature on-air and be more stiff. Instead, I’ve kind of learned to just still be serious with the news, but also be able to put my personality into it, and I think it’s helped. I think it helps to resonate with people and it helps people connect to the story.
Kelly Meerbott: What’s your favorite story to tell? What’s your least favorite story to tell?
Miguel Martinez: Least favorite is obviously anything that has to do with death, right?
Kelly Meerbott: Right.
Miguel Martinez: Unfortunately, it’s heartbreaking because you see people’s pain, especially if you see the family member or something. Unfortunately, we’ve had a pretty deadly year in Philadelphia in 2018, and so a lot of those homicides I had to cover and they weigh on you. They do.
Kelly Meerbott: How do you deal with that? How do you not let it stick to you and weigh down? What do you do to care for yourself?
Miguel Martinez: A big thing, and this is part of I’ve read a lot of journalism tip books and stuff like that, and so one of the big things is you find something productive that the community is doing to address the problem, so if I’m talking about a homicide, I will try to find someone that can say something positive about the victim, should give them their humanity, and also I’ll try to find if there is a community organization or if they city is doing something. If there’s something happening that’s at going to at least attempt to address the problem.
Kelly Meerbott: There’s that sparkle, there’s that sparkle [crosstalk 00:19:25]-
Miguel Martinez: Oh my gosh.
Kelly Meerbott: He does. You light up the room and the fact that you’re looking for this bright spot in such a heavy thing.
Miguel Martinez: That’s important because the news is heavy. It can be heavy, but there’s some good stuff happening.
Kelly Meerbott: Favorite thing to cover?
Miguel Martinez: Oh, wow. Biggest memory right now is obviously… A year ago today was the Eagles parade, so that was one of the craziest days of my life, but also when the Eagles won the Super Bowl, for some reason I feel like NBC and Telemundo, they really enjoy putting me in big crowds because I’m shorter. I’m 5’8″, but there are some people that are a lot taller than 5’8″, right?
Kelly Meerbott: Right.
Miguel Martinez: It seems some people see cameras, it’s like moths to a [crosstalk 00:20:06]. They’ll come to the camera, so I’ll get like-
Kelly Meerbott: Mobbed.
Miguel Martinez: Mobbed, but I have to keep talking so I’m talking and I’ll react on-air like, “Ah!” Stuff like that, so those are always really fun to live and also to go back and watch.
Kelly Meerbott: What was your favorite part about the Eagles parade? I didn’t come anywhere near here because [crosstalk 00:20:24]-
Miguel Martinez: It was a traffic jam, definitely. Everyone was in such a good mood and I think moving to Philadelphia last year was the best timing for me because the City of Brotherly and Sisterly Love felt like that [crosstalk 00:20:37]-
Kelly Meerbott: It was electric, wasn’t it?
Miguel Martinez: It was electric and people were so quick to embrace you and to yell, “Go Birds!” Everything, and people were so friendly. That day especially, like generational, you would see like great-grandparents-
Kelly Meerbott: Oh yeah.
Miguel Martinez: And grandparents –
Kelly Meerbott: Oh yeah.
Miguel Martinez: And everyone was together and they were all decked out in their Eagles gear.
Kelly Meerbott: I know. I was coaching the executives at the airport at the time and I remember the CFO was like pulling her hair out trying to find Eagles gear for everybody in the airport so that they could support everybody and everybody was so excited about that [crosstalk 00:21:07]-
Miguel Martinez: Oh, I bet.
Kelly Meerbott: The players coming off the plane and I was like, “Ooh, you can feel it. It’s palpable.”
Miguel Martinez: Oh, it makes your job so much easier when other people are kind of feeling what you’re talking about.
Kelly Meerbott: Right, right, right. What’s a little-known fact about you?
Miguel Martinez: Little-known fact about me? I’m not sure. You’re going to have to give me a clue, like what kind of thing?
Kelly Meerbott: I don’t know. What’s something that I would be surprised to know about you? For me, I’ll give you an example. I have a terrible singing voice, but I would love to be a lounge singer.
Miguel Martinez: Oh, really?
Kelly Meerbott: I would love to be a lounge singer, but I would never try it because my voice is horrible.
Miguel Martinez: I guess going along with that, I am addicted to really bad karaoke-
Kelly Meerbott: Me too. Oh my God.
Miguel Martinez: And I have no shame when it comes with it. I will belt it out. In my mind, I am like a mix of Frank Sinatra and like Aretha Franklin [crosstalk 00:21:58]-
Kelly Meerbott: In reality, what are you?
Miguel Martinez: I sound like an animal in pain.
Kelly Meerbott: Can you give me a couple of bars of Frank Sinatra?
Miguel Martinez: No. Well, what did I sing? I like to sing songs where I can yell because that’s the only way that I can get near a note, but it’s terrible because sometimes Mondays on-air, my voice will be a little raspy-
Kelly Meerbott: From [crosstalk 00:22:20]-
Miguel Martinez: Because I do Sunday karaoke.
Kelly Meerbott: Oh my… Where do you do Sunday karaoke?
Miguel Martinez: They have it all over town, but I go to… Taboo has it, and my friends and I, we have like a kickball team, not a kickball… dodgeball. I don’t know [crosstalk 00:22:33]-
Kelly Meerbott: Gotcha.
Miguel Martinez: And we go after dodgeball, so that’s always a riot.
Kelly Meerbott: What time do you guys go? I may show up and join with you.
Miguel Martinez: It’s a lot, I’m warning you now. It’s like 3. We go like 3 or 4, depending on when the game is over.
Kelly Meerbott: I usually sing Britney Spears or like Billy Joel or something.
Miguel Martinez: That’s your go-to?
Kelly Meerbott: Yeah. What’s your go-to?
Miguel Martinez: I like… Mr. Brightside, really, Killers is easy.
Kelly Meerbott: Oh my… That’s a fast song.
Miguel Martinez: Yeah, but I loved it growing up. Everywhere by Michelle Branch has been a favorite recently [crosstalk 00:23:00]-
Kelly Meerbott: Really?
Miguel Martinez: Because it’s really easy to sing and I feel like people forget about it, and then when you sing it, they’re like, “Oh my God, that song used to be on the radio all the time.”
Kelly Meerbott: Are your parents proud of what you’ve created in your life?
Miguel Martinez: They are, but my parents would be proud no matter what I did. I remember very specifically… They’re super proud. My Mom actually today shared every single post that I’ve posted this week. I think maybe she just logged onto Facebook today for the week because everything was shared today and I was like, “This is four days old. It’s no longer relevant.” I think it was about the State of the Union, so I’m like, “That passed.”
Miguel Martinez: I remember one time in middle school or high school, I quit the wrestling team to join the musical, which I can’t say because I don’t know why I joined the musical. Some of my friends were like, “Oh, was your Dad disappointed?” I’m like, “No, my Dad was like, ‘Oh, cool. I guess we’re going to come watch the musical instead of the'”… They would be proud of me no matter what I was doing.
Kelly Meerbott: That’s awesome. What about your brothers?
Miguel Martinez: My brothers are, they’re very supportive and they are… they think it’s cool. I went and hung out with them at their college, they’re in the same fraternity. They’re at Sigma Chi together [crosstalk 00:24:03]-
Kelly Meerbott: Oh, wow.
Miguel Martinez: They’re like a year apart, so they’re very, very close. I went and hung out with them and they were like, “Oh, this is our brother that’s on TV.” I was like, “Stop.”
Kelly Meerbott: There’s been a lot of criticism of journalism, and we’re [inaudible 00:24:16]. You are one of those people that I find very grounded and when I did my due diligence, you’re one of those people that I would trust to tell me what’s going on.
Miguel Martinez: Thank you. I appreciate it.
Kelly Meerbott: What’s a guiding principle that you live by that guides you throughout your work, your life, is like a nonnegotiable for you?
Miguel Martinez: My nonnegotiable is just to report with humanity, never to forget that you’re a human being, the people you’re talking about are human beings. Regardless of what the story is, I think if you try to come from it from like an honest and a human place, then that’s going to show and let people make their own opinions, let people make their own decisions, but you just have to say the story without letting… without losing that human aspect.
Kelly Meerbott: That’s a great goal for all of life. What do you think is lacking in journalism that you fill within your own vehicle in life? Like your body, your mind, your soul, your heart?
Miguel Martinez: I’m a big proponent of adding diverse voices to a conversation, right?
Kelly Meerbott: Absolutely.
Miguel Martinez: I think that’s a big thing that I’m super proud with NBC and Telemundo about is they have been making this big push to make sure that the people that they’re putting on-air reflect the community.
Kelly Meerbott: Thank goodness.
Miguel Martinez: If you turn on NBC 10, you’ll see like a range of different people, different colors and I think it does reflect the way Philadelphia looks, right?
Kelly Meerbott: Yeah.
Miguel Martinez: I’m very proud of that and I think the step we can take further than that is let’s get people from different backgrounds and socio-economic backgrounds, from different statuses. I don’t know, I just think the more diverse voices you have talking and being heard and reporting, the more of an understanding we get as a whole.
Kelly Meerbott: Absolutely. It’s just so… to me, when something is too homogenous, when I run into that, it feels like an imbalance and I’m wondering, where are we missing?
Kelly Meerbott: In your life, who do you think has been kindest to you?
Miguel Martinez: Kindest to me? I’ll be honest, I’ve been very, very blessed in that a lot of people have been very kind, and I don’t know what it is, but I’m trying to think if I can… I had an eighth grade teacher called Ms. Jennifer Barshaw, and we’re friends on Facebook now, but she like really inspired me and she was very, very kind and I was kind of [crosstalk 00:26:49]-
Kelly Meerbott: Tell me about that.
Miguel Martinez: Well, I was like chubby in the beginning of eighth grade, and so I was… I was still outgoing and everything, but she… I don’t know, I just remember her being like super kind and I tried out for a… She had like a play thing and I wanted to be the reporter for it and I tried out. I think the first tryout, I was chewing gum and I did terrible. She said, “Spit your gum out. Do it again.” I don’t know, she was really kind and I think that kind of gave me confidence going forward, and then… yeah.
Kelly Meerbott: How do you pay that kindness forward in your life?
Miguel Martinez: I try… I do this a lot and my friends will think, they call me on it, they think it’s weird, but I try to smile at strangers, which is weird in a big city [crosstalk 00:27:28]-
Kelly Meerbott: No, I do that, too.
Miguel Martinez: I just think [crosstalk 00:27:30]-
Kelly Meerbott: I do that, too [crosstalk 00:27:30]-
Miguel Martinez: Do you ever notice that people get like that confused look on their face?
Kelly Meerbott: Yeah.
Miguel Martinez: Then, they smile back-
Kelly Meerbott: They smile back. They’re like… Well, mostly I get this look like, “Do I know you?”
Miguel Martinez: Right, like, “Oh, hey.”
Kelly Meerbott: No, but I do that.
Miguel Martinez: I try to… It happens a lot. If I make eye contact with someone, I’m going to smile and I’ll laugh because it’s awkward, right?
Kelly Meerbott: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Miguel Martinez: Hopefully it makes them smile and I think if you just spread a smile a day, that can kind of cause a chain reaction, right?
Kelly Meerbott: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. We need more of that [crosstalk 00:27:57]-
Miguel Martinez: I love that you do it, too.
Kelly Meerbott: I do, and I thought I was like the only one, but I’m glad I’m not.
Miguel Martinez: Well, there’s two of us.
Kelly Meerbott: There’s two of us, yes.
Miguel Martinez: I believe everyone else should do it, too.
Kelly Meerbott: If you weren’t doing what you are doing, what profession would you want to attempt?
Miguel Martinez: I ask myself that just because it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do, but I think it would definitely be something about traveling. Maybe a travel… Everyone says like travel blogging, but like a travel guide. I just got back from a trip in Thailand-
Kelly Meerbott: Tell me about that. What was that like?
Miguel Martinez: It was incredible. I was there for 10 days, two weeks.
Kelly Meerbott: Why Thailand?
Miguel Martinez: I’ve always wanted to go. I love Thai food and I also really like elephants, and so they had a really [crosstalk 00:28:32]-
Kelly Meerbott: Well, there you go.
Miguel Martinez: They have a really cool elephant sanctuary and my friend and I, we have a travel group. We went to like other places before and so we’re like, “Why not go to Thailand? Let’s go far.” The food was amazing, the people were so friendly. It’s called The Land of a Thousand Smiles. Everyone their smiles the whole time. You would thrive.
Kelly Meerbott: That is… well, no wonder you did so well there.
Miguel Martinez: Everyone there smiles the whole time, the food is so good, and the beaches are gorgeous. It was just fun. It was such a cool trip. Everyone that was traveling with our friend group, though, was like… In the United States, we’re very like work oriented [crosstalk 00:29:05]-
Kelly Meerbott: No kidding [crosstalk 00:29:05]-
Miguel Martinez: The rest of the world is so like, “Oh, I work to make money so I can do other things.” What other things? What do you have time to do?
Kelly Meerbott: I know. I lived in Italy for about three months and [crosstalk 00:29:14]-
Miguel Martinez: Oh man.
Kelly Meerbott: I lived in Florence and the city would shut down every day from 1 to 3 and that was like my favorite time to walk around the city because nobody was there. Everybody was sleeping. They’d take a rest and then they lived their lives.
Miguel Martinez: That’s so funny. I lived in Rome. I studied abroad there so I lived there for six months.
Kelly Meerbott: You’re kidding?
Miguel Martinez: Yeah, and it’s so funny because same thing, although the first time that happened I had the opposite reaction because I was in between classes. Everything shut down and I needed to go grocery shopping and I was like, “It’s literally the middle of the day. Why are you shut down?” I was like, “This makes no sense”, but we’re coming at it from an American perspective. They’re like, “No, I need to take a nap. I just ate a really big meal.”
Kelly Meerbott: Exactly, exactly. Where is another place that’s really influenced you besides The Land of Smiles? I really wish we had a camera on us because [crosstalk 00:29:58] Miguel is such… you radiate this joy and happiness and [crosstalk 00:30:03]-
Miguel Martinez: Oh I [crosstalk 00:30:03]-
Kelly Meerbott: It’s just so contagious [crosstalk 00:30:03]-
Miguel Martinez: Well, we were smiling the whole time. It’s hard not to smile when talking to you.
Kelly Meerbott: Oh, you’re sweet. Well, I’m reflecting you back, buddy.
Miguel Martinez: There we go. More compliments. Let’s go.
Kelly Meerbott: Well, I’ll stroke that ego a little bit.
Miguel Martinez: Another place that has… Mexico is obviously been really, really special to me. We try to go twice a year and just the colors and how vibrant people are and how happy people are and how thankful. That’s like a big thing for me that my parents instilled in me and that the culture has instilled in me is just how constantly blessed I feel, and not in like the annoying Instagram hashtag buzz, but in like I’ll walk around and I’ll look up at City Hall and I’m like, “Wow, how lucky am I that I get to walk by this building that’s so pretty?”
Kelly Meerbott: Or, how lucky are you that you can flip a switch on your wall and lights come on?
Miguel Martinez: Right, that’s crazy.
Kelly Meerbott: I mean [crosstalk 00:30:53]-
Miguel Martinez: Little things that we don’t even think about that I just feel like we all should just take some time to just be happy and acknowledge that. That’s a cool thing I think that culturally Mexico has instilled in me.
Kelly Meerbott: Have you met the love of your life yet?
Miguel Martinez: I haven’t but I’m looking.
Kelly Meerbott: Who are we looking for?
Miguel Martinez: Just someone cool. I guess I’m maybe not really looking, just kind of seeing what happens.
Kelly Meerbott: Who floats in here [crosstalk 00:31:19]-
Miguel Martinez: Who floats in and stays, but I don’t know. We’ll see. This is a cool city. There’s a lot of cool people.
Kelly Meerbott: There are. Well, gee, you’ll have to tell me offline who I need to look for for you [crosstalk 00:31:30]-
Miguel Martinez: I’ll have to find me something.
Kelly Meerbott: I always like to end the podcast with four rapid fire questions, and you’ll know the answers to all of them. First question is, what’s your favorite comfort food?
Miguel Martinez: Either tacos or hot wings. I think buffalo will [crosstalk 00:31:48]-
Kelly Meerbott: Buffalo hot wings?
Miguel Martinez: Yeah.
Kelly Meerbott: Any specific kind of taco? You like fish tacos? Or-
Miguel Martinez: No, just like tacos de carne, so steak tacos.
Kelly Meerbott: Oh, say it again?
Miguel Martinez: Tacos de carne.
Kelly Meerbott: I love that. My God, I wish I could roll my Rs.
Miguel Martinez: You’ll have to try.
Kelly Meerbott: You’re going to have to teach me, I’m not going to try that because my husband can do it. One year we were working with I think… it wasn’t Rosetta Stone, it was like the competitor, and he gets on there and he sounds exactly like the guy on the tape and I get on there and I sound like this nasally American who [crosstalk 00:32:20]-
Miguel Martinez: Trying the same sounds.
Kelly Meerbott: It was terrible. It was terrible. What books are on your nightstand?
Miguel Martinez: Books on my nightstand right now, so I have the Michelle Obama book, which [crosstalk 00:32:30]-
Kelly Meerbott: Oh my God [crosstalk 00:32:30]-
Miguel Martinez: Which was really good.
Kelly Meerbott: I just finished it. It was so good.
Miguel Martinez: You finished it? You want to tell me… I feel like I’m learning so much.
Kelly Meerbott: Oh my gosh, right?
Miguel Martinez: Right.
Kelly Meerbott: About the stuff that goes on behind the scenes in the White House [crosstalk 00:32:37]-
Miguel Martinez: Just about her I didn’t know. I was shocked at how little I knew I guess.
Kelly Meerbott: I know [crosstalk 00:32:42]-
Miguel Martinez: But I’m so happy. I’m reading that.
Kelly Meerbott: Becoming is so great. Everybody go out and buy it.
Miguel Martinez: Becoming is really good, and then… I’m looking for a Spanish language book. I have not found one that I want to read this year, so if anyone has suggestions, definitely [crosstalk 00:32:55]-
Kelly Meerbott: Hit you up [crosstalk 00:32:56]-
Miguel Martinez: Let me know.
Kelly Meerbott: What songs are on your playlist?
Miguel Martinez: Ooh, so I just downloaded the Ariana Grande new album.
Kelly Meerbott: Did you?
Miguel Martinez: It dropped last night I think and I’ve been listening to it nonstop. Like nonstop.
Kelly Meerbott: Is it really, really good?
Miguel Martinez: It’s really, really good, but also it’s funny because last week I was listening to all like mid-2000s teen angst like Simple Plan, Blink 182, so [crosstalk 00:33:16]-
Kelly Meerbott: Oh my God.
Miguel Martinez: It’s definitely taken like from two days ago when I was working out the like teen angst songs to now where I’m just walking around the city listening to Ariana Grande. It’s like [crosstalk 00:33:26]-
Kelly Meerbott: Oh my gosh.
Miguel Martinez: My playlist is so diverse.
Kelly Meerbott: You know you don’t walk. You probably strut down the street [crosstalk 00:33:30]-
Miguel Martinez: Oh yeah, well to the Ariana album, yeah I can strut [crosstalk 00:33:32]-
Kelly Meerbott: How can you.. you can’t not. I do that when I listen to Cardi B and Nicki Minaj [crosstalk 00:33:39]-
Miguel Martinez: Last question. What are you most grateful for in this moment right now?
Kelly Meerbott: In this moment right now, other than being here and speaking to you, is just the city. I really do feel like Philadelphia has embraced me and I have embraced it and I feel so lucky to be here and to be able to do what I do and to talk to the people out there and to share your stories and everything. I feel very grateful for this moment.
Miguel Martinez: Wow, my friend, and I hope we can call each other friend now [crosstalk 00:34:08]-
Kelly Meerbott: Yes, a hundred percent, yeah.
Miguel Martinez: Muchos gracias for sharing your story [crosstalk 00:34:11]-
Kelly Meerbott: Oh, there you go [crosstalk 00:34:11]-
Miguel Martinez: And I [crosstalk 00:34:11]-
Kelly Meerbott: Bilingual.
Miguel Martinez: Again… Not even close, but I’m just so grateful to spend this time with you and get to know you a little bit better and it’s really our intention that this podcast allows people to go out, have authentic conversations and deepen the connections with people that they have in their lives. Just final question. What do you recommend that people do in order to deepen those connections besides these conversations?
Kelly Meerbott: Besides these conversations, I would say… We both lived in Italy, so I don’t know if you had this moment, but one time I said, “Hey, what’s up?” to one of my Italian friends and they go, “Why do Americans always ask, ‘What’s up?’ but then not listen to the answer?” That stuck with me because we say it as we’re walking away from someone, so I think maybe that. Ask people, “What’s up?” Then, really kind of listen [crosstalk 00:35:03]-
Miguel Martinez: Actively listen.
Kelly Meerbott: Listen to what’s up, what’s going on.
Miguel Martinez: That happens a lot because my husband did 20 years in the military, so people are always saying, “Thank you for your service”, which is nice, but it tends to be hollow and you can take it a step further by saying, “Tell me about your service”, and really listening.
Kelly Meerbott: I love that.
Miguel Martinez: Well, I love you, so thank you so much to Miguel Martinez-Valle, bilingual reporter for NBC 10, Telemundo. Hopefully we’ll have you on again, but tune into both of those stations because he is fantastic and we’re so lucky to have him in [crosstalk 00:35:30]-
Kelly Meerbott: Early mornings, 6 AM, 11 to 11:30 for NBC, and then noon for Telemundo and 6 AM as well.
Miguel Martinez: Well, and thank you to NBC and Telemundo for being smart enough to hire you, so [crosstalk 00:35:40]-
Kelly Meerbott: Yes, thank you.
Announcer: You’ve been listening to Hidden Human: The Stories Behind The Business Leader. If you’ve enjoyed the episode, please subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. To learn more about Kelly and the services she provides, visit youloudandclear.com. Thanks so much for listening and we’ll be back soon with a new episode.