Almost all immigrants settling in the United States struggled to overcome a common barrier:  Lack of an adequate knowledge of the English language.  But an estimated 15,000  Portuguese migrants who settled in the Turlock and Stanislaus County area  in the early 1900's were able to hear a familiar voice on radio daily, bringing them music, news and commentary in their native Portuguese language.

The voice was that of Frank S. Mendonsa,  whose morning show “Frankly Speaking,”  was a fixture on KTUR (KCEY) for more than 20 years. He began his program in October of 1949  when KTUR 1390 KCs signed on the air.     His program included news, commentary and  music in Portuguese and was on the air 7 days a week from 6 am to 7 am.   
      
     Mendonsa  was born September 19, 1895 on the island of Pico  in the Azores where he grew up and obtained his formal education.   He migrated to the United States in September of 1921 working at various businesses until 1929 when he purchased some farmland and began a dairy business in Turlock . His taught himself the English language and later during his broadcasting career developed the unique ability to take news stories off the news teletype machines and instantaneously translate the stories from English into Portuguese as he read them on the air.

Mendonsa  also devoted a good share of his time teaching citizenship classes and helping newly arrived  migrants become U.S. Citizens.   He also provided translation services for Portuguese documents and worked with the Portuguese consul in San Francisco as well as governmental offices in the Azores.

He retired from farming in 1953 and passed away  July 13, 1983 at the age of 88.   Today his great-grand daughter Cristina Mendonsa is a news anchor at KXTV 10 in Sacramento.



KTUR's "Frankly Speaking" Portuguese Program
Credits and Sources:

  1. Turlock Journal newspaper
  2. Charmaine Mendonsa, Elk Grove, CA
  3. Len Mendonca, Turlock, CA.
This photo was believed taken in the 50's at  Alves Electric Company in Los Banos, CA. which was located across the street from the Crest Theater.   Seated on the left is the business owner Frank Alves and seated on his right is his salesman Joe Ferry.  We have not been able to ID the man standing on the left.    Standing on the right  is Frank Mendonsa  who for many years hosted a Portuguese program on KTUR called   "Frankly Speaking".    Joe Ferry handled remote broadcasts from the business on KTUR weekly.  (Photo courtesy of Len Mendonca and Charmaine Mendonsa)