Alumni Profile

Frank Cruz '69

Cruzin' His Way “The Trojan Family is very proud of Frank Cruz. He earned his B.A. and M.A. at USC and almost earned his

Ph.D. before he went bad and joined radio,” quipped USC President Steven B. Sample at a dinner honoring the alumnus late last year. Cruz may have “gone bad” in the tongue-in-cheek view of Sample, but the degrees he completed at USC – in 1966 and 1969, respectively – helped him do all right for himself.
The reason Cruz was honored at President Sample’s annual Media Dinner, after all, was for his long career in broadcasting, recently capped when he was unanimously elected new chairman of the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the largest source of funding for the nation’s public broadcast outlets.
Cruz is the first ethnic minority to hold the post in CPB’s 32-year history. President Clinton appointed him to its board in 1994.
“My whole life has prepared me for my latest position,” said Cruz, who began his career in the early 1970s as a broadcaster with KABC-TV in Los Angeles. For a decade after that he was regularly on-air at KNBC-TV. Awards for his work during those years include an Emmy and the Golden Mike for coverage of Latin American issues and U.S.-Hispanic community events. Previously he was an associate professor of history at California State University-Long Beach and Sonoma State University. A promising career in higher education had gone awry, indeed.

AS AN ENTREPRENEUR, Cruz was a founder

Frank Cruz (right) is welcomed to the podium and given a token of the University'sesteem by President Steven B. Sample.

of Telemundo, the nation’s second Spanish language network, and of KVEA-TV in Los Angeles. Today, he is the president of Cruz & Associates, a financial consulting firm. He is also the former chairman and founder of Gulf Atlantic Life Insurance in California, the first Hispanic-owned life insurance company in the United States. Of his latest endeavor leading CPB, Cruz believes public broadcasting is at “an exciting and challenging time. It’s an honor and a privilege to serve,” he added. “At this juncture of life, I’m building upon what I’ve done and paying back.”
A Los Angeles Times profile said Cruz “is serving notice that he wants to bring a greater measure of diversity, involving minorities and women, to both PBS and National Public Radio – in subject matter, on-air broadcast presence and within producing and writing.”
“I think we can certainly do a heck of a lot more,”said Cruz, who was born in East Los Angeles. “And [we can] certainly [do] more than the commercial brethren at a time when the commercial side is being accused of not having enough blacks and Hispanics and Asian Americans. We must do it and we can do it.”
Not that bad an ambition for a lost academic.


 

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Frank Cruz '69

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Photography by Jeff Wilson

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