NPR: Mandalit del Barco

As an arts correspondent based at NPR West, Mandalit del Barco reports and produces stories about film, television, music, visual arts, dance and other topics. Over the years, she has also covered 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, as well as the Sundance Film Festival and other events. 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

del Barco's reporting has taken her throughout the United States, including Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco and Miami. Reporting further afield as well, del Barco traveled to Haiti to report on the aftermath of the devastating earthquake. She has chronicled street gangs exported from the U.S. to El Salvador and Honduras, and in Mexico, she reported about immigrant smugglers, musicians, filmmakers and artists. In Argentina, del Barco profiled tango legend Carlos Gardel, and in the Philippines, she reported a feature on balikbayan boxes. From China, del Barco contributed to NPR's coverage of the United Nations' Women's Conference. She also spent a year in her birthplace, 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 produced 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."

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.



Mon October 24, 2011

Moreno, Leguizamo Talk Latin Life In 'Hollywouldn't'

Originally published on Mon October 24, 2011 7:03 pm

Four's The Score: One of a handful of performers to score an EGOT — an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony — Rita Moreno is revisiting the highlights and lowlights of her life and career in a new solo show.

Michael LaMonica Berkeley Repertory Theatre

Rita Moreno — the only Latino performer to win an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony — is reprising some of her most memorable characters in a solo show at the Berkeley Repertory Theater. Up the coast in Los Angeles, John Leguizamo, who co-starred opposite Al Pacino in Carlito's Way and voiced Sid the sloth in the animated Ice Age films, is performing another of his acclaimed solo shows. And while their Hollywood success came 40 years apart, the two say they encountered many of the same hurdles.

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Tue September 20, 2011
Reporter's Notebook

A New Destination For Kayakers: The L.A. River?

The fifth graders from L.A.'s Pico Union neighborhood, who rarely get to spend time in nature, say it was the best field trip ever.
Mandalit del Barco NPR

The once-polluted and often ridiculed Los Angeles River is now open to kayak and canoe adventures. City officials and the Army Corps of Engineers are running a pilot program that allows people to explore the river.

In the South American rain forest, I once paddled in a dugout canoe through the lush Amazon River, filled with pink dolphins and flesh-eating piranhas. So the thought of navigating down the Los Angeles River at first seemed almost ridiculous.

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Tue September 6, 2011
Hidden World Of Girls

Ex-L.A. Gang Member Trades Streets For Family Life

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 3:20 pm

BooBoo (right) flashes a Playboys gang hand sign, 1993.
Robert Yager

Los Angeles is arguably the epicenter of street gangs stretching back for generations. NPR's Mandalit del Barco has been documenting the lives of gang members in the city for nearly two decades. For the series "The Hidden World of Girls," produced with the Kitchen Sisters, del Barco revisits one gang girl she profiled for an NPR documentary in 1995.

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Mon July 18, 2011
Around the Nation

L.A. Drivers Ecstatic I-405 Re-Opens Early

Los Angeles officials have reopened a major interstate freeway that was closed for construction. Fearing traffic jams of epic proportions, many drivers stayed off the roads over the weekend. But cars were back on Interstate 405 a day ahead of schedule.

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Thu July 14, 2011
Around the Nation

I-405's Closure Will Be A 'Nightmare' For L.A. Drivers

Southern Californians are calling it Carpacoplypse and Carmagadden. This weekend, Interstate 405 in Los Angeles will shut down completely for construction. The closure is causing a certain amount of panic.


Fri July 8, 2011
Around the Nation

Royal Couple To Visit Southern California

Prince William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, visit Southern California this weekend. They'll hobnob with celebrities, meet veterans, inner-city children and attend a polo match.


Tue June 14, 2011

Hate-Crime Arrests Signal 'Victory' For California City

Azusa is a small, working-class college city along the train tracks in the San Gabriel Valley, just 25 miles east of Los Angeles. Federal prosecutors say for years, the Varrio Azusa 13 gang has monopolized sales of cocaine, heroin and meth here.

"This gang has waged an insidious, two-decade campaign of violence, fueled not only by drug dealing but by racial animus and hatred," U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte told reporters in L.A. "They had an edict dating back to 1992 to basically get rid of African-Americans from Azusa."

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Tue June 7, 2011
Around the Nation

L.A. Worries About State's Plan To Reduce Inmates

Los Angeles is bracing for what happens when California releases more than 30,000 inmates from the state's prison system. The U.S. Supreme Court has ordered counties and other states to help ease state prison overcrowding, but L.A. jails already are well over capacity.


Wed May 18, 2011
Around the Nation

Is The L.A. Food Truck Bubble Ready To Burst?

Originally published on Wed May 18, 2011 7:03 pm

Long before the new wave of gourmet trucks came to Los Angeles, Raul Ortega started a taco truck in East Los Angeles called Mariscos Jalisco. Last year at the L.A. Street Food Fest, Ortega won "Best in Show" and the "People's Choice Award."
Mandalit del Barco/NPR

The gourmet food truck craze that started in Los Angeles may be reaching its peak. These days, hundreds of gourmet food trucks are roving the Los Angeles streets, selling everything from Korean tacos to grilled cheese sandwiches, Indian street food to $12 hamburgers.

"It seems like every day, you see a new truck on Twitter," says Matt Chernus, who co-owns Grill 'em All. "It's getting to the point where you've got to wonder if this city can really hold this many trucks. Once you start seeing a copycat of every truck, you're going to see a downward spiral."

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Thu May 5, 2011
Arts & Life

New Cultural Center Celebrates L.A.'s Mexican Roots

Los Angeles has a Mexican-American mayor and the largest Latino population in the country. Now, it has a new museum and cultural center celebrating the city's Mexican roots.

La Plaza pays tribute to the complex histories and identities of LA's Mexicanos, Californios, Mexican-Americans and Chicanos: Everyone from musicians in the group Ozomatli to the 44 settlers who arrived from Mexico in 1781 to establish the city of Los Angeles aka "El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles de Porciuncula."

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Fri April 29, 2011

News Corp. Likely To Take A Loss On Myspace Sale

Originally published on Fri April 29, 2011 11:38 am



The struggling networking site MySpace is up for sale. Bids are expected today.

As NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports, the parent company, News Corp, may sell it for hundreds of millions less than it originally paid.

MADALIT DEL BARCO: A half dozen private companies are reportedly bidding for MySpace, which News Corp hopes to sell for at least $100 million dollars. In 2005, Rupert Murdoch's media empire paid $580 million.

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Fri April 15, 2011

'Food Revolution,' L.A. Schools Spar Over Lunches

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and Los Angeles Public Schools started a food fight this week.

The second season of Oliver's reality show Food Revolution features him badmouthing L.A. school lunches — and the school district is now fighting back with some new cuisine.

But for the purposes of Oliver's show, the city revoked the permits the ABC program needs to film in schools.

"They will not let me into any school, which means it's war," Oliver says.

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