María del Pilar Morales is a “baby boomer” who grew up in the cradle of the “Hertzian waves”. She has been practicing the virtue of listening for more than twenty-five years. She recently interviewed the Vice President of the United States and told us without surprise or drama: “Kamala is just like us”.
God does not comfort us in deferred time. His love is always online for each one of us. He helps himself “En tus Mañanas”. Through the radio station’s program, many humble people in Philadelphia express their despairs and triumphs. The journalist of Puerto Rican descent knows that “despite the problems, family is family and love is love”.
In a world where everything is under “metrics,” doing the math was not difficult for the White House. Maria del Pilar is the Latino community voice in Philadelphia. Her poised vocal timbre, endowed with empowered femininity, reaches every home. She finds refuge in the listeners’ hearts. There, they treasure her. She is a matriarch who enjoys Washington’s recognition. That is why she was chosen.
People respond with the same empathy to those with a different touch. “When someone makes you feel the same, on the same level, that person is great.” The quotation marks correspond to an impression she had of Kamala Harris. That same perception, word for word, represents Maria del Pilar in every way. She graciously spoke with El Sol Latino and recounted her experience interviewing the Vice President.
“Kamala is just like us”
“When the station manager Marc Guralnick called me and said: we have a pending interview with Kamala Harris tomorrow, I said, what! Interview her?” This was the radio host’s reaction when she learned that the White House wanted her to interview the first female vice-president of the United States. Her astonishment was focused on many things: the language barrier, the personality´s importance, and the nerves that never leave any professional, no matter how experienced he or she may be.
The conversation went on: “Does she speak Spanish?” was the first thing I asked. But are you sure? She is the Vice President! “Yes, yes”, the manager answered. María del Pilar was full of praise for her colleagues at La Mega 105.7. “Why me? My colleagues speak better English!” However, her fate was written. She did not volunteer. She did not refuse. And from the labyrinths of her memory will not escape the “ring tone” which announced the telephonic connection between her and Kamala Harris.
María del Pilar Morales is convinced that Kamala is like us. “The Vice President requested the interview because she was going to announce the importance of getting vaccinated,” the journalist said. “She would report that FEMA was opening for the first time a place at the Pennsylvania Convention Center for people to get vaccinated. She wanted to get the message out especially to minorities and specifically to the most vulnerable which are immigrants.”
“She wanted to make Latino immigrants feel comfortable, to make them feel confident and the important thing, which is to get vaccinated. Those are details that one’s family has. Your mom can tell you, ‘baby, you must go to the doctor’. The Vice President shared that charisma with us, that she cared about us as a Latino community. And that particular detail that she was the one who looked for the media. Of course, she chose the one that people listen to the most. She was the one who chose and the only media was La Mega. What she talked about reached directly to the Latino community. Specifically about the importance of getting vaccinated and that immigrants should not be afraid, that they should go out and get the shot”.
A professional lesson
Professionalism is cultivated. The journalist’s profession is a craft. Its performance demands meticulous processes that should not be overlooked. María del Pilar Morales offered us a master class on that subject. Her words can serve as a guide for those who wish to become journalists.
“Once I knew the date and time, I got ready. I read a little bit more about her. I looked for details. It is always good when you are going to interview someone to know in-depth about the person you are going to talk to. We don´t know everything about her life just because she is the Vice President. I read a lot about her, I prepared some basic questions that anyone would ask a female vice-president”.
– Were you nervous?
– At the beginning, yes. A lot of people think I don’t get nervous, but that is not true. It’s a challenge. An interview with the vice president of the United States. It’s not like interviewing any ordinary person. And even more when there is a different language, but I think she gave me a lot of confidence. You feel the vibe and I forgot my impediment of not speaking fluent English, and we did very well. I felt like, ‘Oh well, I did it’. And she felt so comfortable. She was telling me, ‘Mary, Mary,’ and I felt that Kamala is like us. Exactly. No one is that high, no one is that low. When someone makes you feel equal, on the same level, that person is great. Because it’s not that she’s getting down, but she’s making you feel that ‘you are equal. That there’s nobody better than anybody else. So I felt great, really happy. After I was done, I was like, ‘I talked to the Vice President, oh my God!‘ I wanted to drink a bottle of champagne, but it was too early.”
A long telephone call
Our parents handed down to us a lapidary aphorism: “People many, persons few.” It belongs to Diogenes of Sinope, a Greek philosopher of 390 B.C. We all know about this particular human aura. We recognize it wherever it is.
Maria del Pilar noticed in Kamala Harris that difference. “She was supposed to have another interview and she would have only five minutes. But she went on and kept on talking comfortably. It was like talking to a friend. I was the one who said, ‘I know you have a meeting,’ because she kept talking. I had been warned that she had another appointment, that she was very busy, but she still didn’t mind the time and kept answering questions specifically from our Latino community.”
The journalist helped us understand the differences. “In these last elections, the Latinos made a big difference. Because when you want a change, you have to do your part. Especially her, who spoke in general. I don’t think she spoke only to the Democrats. She spoke to human beings. She insistently recommended getting vaccinated. She stressed the importance of vaccination. She asked everyone to go out and get vaccinated. That vaccine is there for everyone”.
An exciting experience
Kamala is like us. The statement has remained as a mantra in María del Pilar’s discursive ecosystem. Interviewing the Vice President “was a heavyweight. Many people think it is not. It is a responsibility. Because if I fail, they will not look at the 99 times I defended them, they will notice the only time I failed and that is very important”.
“And one other thing I want to clarify. Pennsylvania State was crucial for her vice presidency. She understood how important this state was and the non-voting community responded in her favor. I think the interview and her message were a way of saying thank you. Saying to us ‘get vaccinated I want you alive’. I don’t know if it was to vote for them again, but in the end, it’s a nice thing to have someone care about the community´s health.”
Translated by: José Espinoza