Malín Falú (1946- )

Malín Falú
Malín Falú

Melba “Malín” Falú Pesante, model, producer, radio and television personality, was born June 28, 1946, in la Parada 22, Santurce, Puerto Rico to María Magdalena “Malen” Pesante Santana and Juan “Juanín” Falú Zarzuela, founder of the League to Promote the Advancement of Blacks in Puerto Rico (1939). Her grandfather Pedro Falú was the first Afro-Puerto Rican Santurce Municipal Assembly president.

Falú attended Pedro Gerónimo Goyco Elementary (1951-1957), and in Río Piedras, Escuela República de Colombia (1961-1964) and the University of Puerto Rico (1964-1968). At UPR, she obtained a Sociology B.A. One of her professors was famed playwright Luis Rafael Sánchez (La Pasión según Antígona Pérez). At Birkbeck College in London, she studied acting (1973); completed an Allen and Singer School Broadcasting certificate (Trenton, New Jersey, 1977); and earned a Media Studies M.A. at the New School for Social Research (New York City, 1983).

Falú taught at El Residencial Luis Llorens Torres and was an educational youth advisor at ASPIRA, a national non-profit established in 1961 by Afro-Boricua Antonia Pantoja (1968-1969). Falú co-founded in 1970, with Afro-Latina Carmen “Siva” Routté-Gómez, Azabache—the island’s first Black modeling agency. A 1972 Miss Puerto Rico semifinalist, Falú co-hosted Soul Train, the Don Cornelius US-based music-dance show on WAPA-TV-4, from 1973 to 1974). She designed programs for WVOZ 1580-AM, radio in 1974, and sold commercial time for Astra Productions, whose clients included Afro-Puerto Rican Otilio “Bizcocho” Warrington.

In 1975 Falú moved to New Jersey where she translated into Spanish state civil service exams. The Puerto Rican Congress hired Falú to lead their Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) initiatives. She was a mass media assistant producer for the New York State Education Department and on New Jersey Network created women-centered television programming from 1976 to 1977.

Falú grew her New York City audience while on WADO Reloj, 1280-AM, between 1978 and 1985). She produced Mi Casa el Su Casa and then co-hosted Café con Leche on WJIT-1480-AM, from 1985 to 1989. Falú hosted the evening Hablando con Malín that quickly moved to the coveted morning slot and transmitted specials from Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East on WJIT-1480-AM, from 1989 to 1990 and WADO-1280-AM, from 1990 to 2001. Listenership increased by 700% and Arbitron/ Nielsen ranked it in the NYC top ten radio shows (1998). Hispanic Information and Telecommunications Network broadcast Falú in the nationally Beacon Award-winning Diálogo de Costa a Costa from 2004 to 2012; and she anchored Enterate on ESPN-1050-AM, from 2015 to 2018.

In 1992 Falú was the last to interview the “Queen of Latin Soul,” Afro-Cuban singer La Lupe. Other luminaries included Celia Cruz, Afro-Borinqueños Marta Moreno Vega, Juan Boria, Felipe Luciano, Piri Thomas and “Tite” Curet, New York City Mayor David Dinkins and First Lady Hillary Clinton. Comparisons to Oprah Winfrey and Barbara Walters abound due to Falú’s intimate on-air style.

El Nuevo Dia selected her as “Woman of the Year” (1973), the Puerto Rico National Day Parade Committee bestowed “Madrina” (1982), and she won fifteen ACE Awards between 1981 and 1997. Kean University conferred an honorary doctorate on her in 2004. A breast cancer survivor (1999) and an outspoken critic of media gender and racial biases, Falú briefly married Afro-Puerto Rican NYU professor Carlos de Jesus in 1975. Since January 2019, Manhattan Neighborhood Network has televised her Palique con Malín Falú.