Alejandra Martinez

Alejandra Martinez is the associate producer for WLRN&rsquo's Sundial. Her love for radio started at her mother’s beauty shop where she noticed that stories are all around her - important stories to tell.

When she took her first audio storytelling class in college, she was sold to the world of public radio journalism. She feels that audio blocks out the world and creates a single intimate connection.

This native Texan began her radio career interning for Latino USA in New York City where she reported stories on Texas politics, immigration, culture and arts. She then worked with KUT Austin’s NPR station as an intern and later a producer where she produced stories, worked on social media content and special projects, including launching the KUT Book Club. She participated in NPR’s Next-Generation Radio project, a week-long digital and radio journalism boot camp, where she covered Houston’s recovery post-Hurricane Harvey.

Ale graduated from The University of Texas at Austin School of Journalism in December 2017 and moved to Miami shortly after. She considers herself a coffee fanatic, a bookworm and the queen of digital. When she moved to South Florida and noticed all the Instagram-able spots around town she fell in love. She was amazed by the huge Latino population and rich culture of the region and has a true desire to share the stories of what make South Florida so great.

Connect with Alejandra on Twitter: @_martinez_ale and send her pitches at amartinez@wlrnnews.org

When local architect David Rifkind and his former wife built their home in South Miami in 2011, they had sustainability in mind.

The light-gray home is made out of mostly recycled materials -- predominantly steel. It generates most of its electricity from solar panels, collects its water from the roof, and the front yard has no grass. Rifkind calls the home the "tin box" and his goal is to reduce his carbon footprint.   

When you walk through the installation, “Black Power Naps/Siestas Negras” you’re automatically sucked into a world of relaxation. There are six embellished beds and a sound track playing where the Afro Latinx artists Navild Acosta and Fannie Sosa explain what the concept of sleep means to them in a deep soothing voice.

National Geographic Cuban-American explorer Mireya Mayor has returned to her hometown of Miami. The former Miami Dolphins cheerleader has traveled to the most remote places of the world like Madagascar and the Congo. Mayor has swum with sharks, been chased by elephants, bitten by poisonous bugs and charged by gorillas. Her adventures have landed her the nickname in the national media the female Indiana Jones. 

Hundreds of people each year parade the streets of Fantasy Fest in Key West after having their naked bodies transformed into artwork through detailed body paint design. 

After Manuel Oliver’s son Joaquin was killed at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High school shooting in 2018, he dedicated his life to gun reform activism through the arts.

A space suit made out of hundreds of textile fabrics with hearts, stars, drawn space rockets and planets made by kids and cancer patients from over 45 countries will be on display at the R House Wynwood art gallery starting this weekend. 

A group of South Florida fishermen set sail on their boat on the first Friday after Hurricane Dorian made a direct hit on the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama as a Category 5 storm.

"As soon as the smoke cleared we were out of here," said Tim Maddock, one of the fishermen.

The slow-moving hurricane made landfall more than a week ago and it was the most powerful storm on record to strike the Bahamas. The storm left many with nothing.

A new independent film called "Peanut Butter Falcon" stars Boynton Beach resident Zack Gottsagen, who plays a wrestling hero. Gottsagen has Down Syndrome, and his character, Zak, dreams of meeting his all-time-favorite wrestling figure, known as the Salt Water Redneck.

Zak, who at the beginning of the movie lives in a nursing home, escapes and accidently meets a man on the run named Tyler, a fish merchant, played by Shia Laboeuf. Tyler lost his brother in a car accident and stole fishing supplies one drunken night. Zak and Tyler join forces and go on the run together.

Songbirds are known for their beautiful bright-colored feathered coats and for their melodious and upbeat songs, which South Floridians can hear on most summertime mornings. 

But there is another important detail to know about these small creatures: they're often trapped, smuggled and traded throughout the region. 

A Miami-based architect has made it his mission to design hospitals to be more resilient to seismic events and hurricanes. 

Eduardo Egea, from the firm Leo A Daly, has been designing hospitals for almost 25 years. After Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, Egea came up with the idea to design a hospital that could ultimately help in the aftermath of a hurricane by using drones to get supplies to patients quickly and easily. “Drones are going to be part of our day-to-day tools that we will use in the future,” he said on Sundial. 

When a mother and her autistic son visited the Margate Police Department earlier this year to discuss the relationship between police and the autistic community, chief of police Jonathan Shaw realized the need for additional training for officers. 

In response, Shaw's police department recently launched "Project Autism," to teach and train officers how to interact with individuals on the spectrum. It also establishes indicators for autistic individuals to help officers understand who they are talking to and how to handle the situation. 

Fifty years ago, journalist Paulette Cooper had the wild idea to sneak onto a cruise ship.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló announced his resignation on Wednesday night. It follows nearly two weeks of protests that were sparked by the publication of almost 900 pages of the governor’s leaked private messages -including sexist and homophobic comments by Roselló and his top aids.  Gov. Rosselló’s resignation is effective Aug. 2. CNN reporter Leyla Santiago has been reporting from Puerto Rico and joined Sundial for an update.

The Florida Board of Education recently approved a new mandate requiring public schools to teach at least five hours of mental health instruction to students in sixth to 12th grade. 

The program requires students to take a course to help them identify signs and symptoms of depression and where to get help and resources. It aims to destigmatize mental health issues and and teach them how to help others who might be struggling.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber want companies to bid for the chance to build a monorail connecting their two cities.

The Miami-Dade County Commission voted on Monday to move forward with the bidding process for the project; there’s now a six-month bidding process. That comes after Malaysian gambling company Genting submitted an unsolicited proposal two months ago to build the monorail. 

A new proposal to build a monorail that would connect the City of Miami and the City of Miami Beach, was presented at the Miami Beach commission meeting earlier this week. Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber is worried that Genting, a Malaysian casino company, is leading the bidding process. It was an unsolicited proposal, which means many of the details are not available yet to the public. Mayor Gelber joined Sundial to discuss why he disagrees with the plan.

  

Who says there's no romance left in the newspaper industry? 

"Constant Craving" follows the story of Justine Lavoie, a journalist and publisher of the St. Augustine newspaper, in her quest to save her publication from financial doom. The making-or-breaking of her family's legacy ends up in the hands of Rafael Menendez de Aviles, Miami’s richest man, who could ruin or help her. 

Fifty years ago, an estimated 530 million people gathered around their TVs to watch astronauts take off from Cape Canaveral's Kennedy Space Center on the Apollo 11 Space Shuttle for the first mission to the moon. 

Fears of widespread immigration raids in South Florida appeared to dissipate without major actions on Sunday - but left migrant communities and advocates with renewed reason to come up with different strategies to deal with deportation of themselves or close family members.

In West Kendall, longtime immigrant rights advocate Nora Sandigo was praying she wouldn’t get a call on Sunday from any of her more than 1,500 children.

“Today we haven’t seen anything major,” she said in Spanish. “We hope it stays like this for the next few days.”

If you love movie posters -- the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach is taking a trip back in time to Hollywood’s Golden Era.

Thirteen-year-old Taylor Moxey is quite extrodinary.

The Miami teen launched her own cupcake company at the age of seven. She also founded the "Taylor Moxey Foundation," which educates youth through the power of reading, and published her own book, "The Adventures of Taylor the Chef." About two years ago she created a mini-library from a former shipping container at Omni Park, near the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County. She is now working on opening more in Broward County, and internationally in Haiti and El Salvador. 

Students from across the country are in Miami this week for a three-day event, called "This Is Zero Hour: The Youth Climate Summit." It's being hosted by the international youth climate advocacy organization Zero Hour, a group of 25 students who are striving to protect the environment. 

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava is calling for Homestead Detention Facility to be shut down. "This is a national disaster, we're being called kidnappers around the world," she said on Sundial.

Cava, a Democrat representing the county's district 8, was at the Homestead Detention Facility with Democratic presidential candidates Senators Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand last week. Only Cava was able to take a one-hour tour inside the Homestead children’s detention center, making her the first sitting commissioner from South Florida to do so.

Colombian-American actor and comedian John Leguizamo will soon gives South Florida a history lesson that might, in his words, "light fire under people's butts." 

After his son was bullied in 8th grade, Leguizamo felt it was necesssary to give his son the tools to defend himself. In his one-man show, "Latin History for Morons," Leguizamo mixes humor and political rhetoric as he traces thousands of years of history. He calls it "weaponizing his son with information."

The first night of the 2019 Democratic Debate is over. On Wednesday, 10 presidential hopefuls tried to make their case in Miami. Topics included immigration, gun reform and climate change. The Miami Herald’s David Smiley was at the debate and joined Sundial to give a recap.

The threat posed to Floridians by climate change is a daily reality: rising seas, hotter temperatures, more flooding and stronger hurricanes.

Democratic candidates are in South Florida ahead of the first Democratic presidential debates taking place Wednesday and Thursday nights in Miami. The topic of immigration is already front and center.

The new executive director of the environmental group Friends of the Everglades is not that impressed with Gov. Ron DeSantis' environmental record thus far. 

The environmental organization Friends of the Everglades recently merged with Bullsugar Alliance, a nonprofit working to improve Florida's water quality. It also welcomed a new director, Alexander Gillen. The environmental group was started 50 years ago by Marjory Stoneman Douglas, a well known state figure and author of "The Everglades: River of Grass," and its mission has been to protect the state's wetlands.

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