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Irma Nicolas, one of the founders of Univision, dies at age 88

Irma and her husband, Emilio Nicolas Sr., founded the Spanish International Network in the 1960's, which later became Univision.
Credit: Univ. of Texas

SAN ANTONIO — Longtime community advocate and one of the founders of the Univision Network, Irma Nicolas, passed away Saturday at the age of 88.

Irma and her husband, Emilio Nicolas Sr., founded the Spanish International Network in the 1960's, which later became Univision. Emilio Nicolas Sr. died on October 12, 2019, also at the age of 88.

Born Irma Cortez, she and Emilio got married in 1953. In 1955, Emilio left a job in research and began working for Irma's father, Raoul Cortez, at the spanish-language television station, KCOR-TV.

“It was a hard job,” Irma Nicolás said in a biography with the University of Texas. “Coming from being a research man to radio and television, he had to learn from scratch. He worked himself up, and he had a good relationship with my father.” 

In 1961, Nicolas and a group of investors bought the KCOR station and renamed the station KWEX, which soon became part of SIN, the Spanish International Network, a precursor to Univision, the biography said.

The Cortez and Nicolas families left an important legacy of broadcasting tailored to Mexican-Americans. “My father took [Spanish broadcasting] very seriously to educate our own people,” Nicolás said. “They should defend themselves. The airwaves are ours, and we have the right to defend our Mexican-American people.” 

Irma Nicolas passed away Saturday morning.