Alina Mayo Azze at the anchor desk

An iconic newswoman in Miami

By Barbara Gutierrez

An iconic newswoman in Miami

By Barbara Gutierrez
UM alumna Alina Mayo Azze, who has covered a myriad of topics during her 37-year career, has been a steadfast voice for the community.

For nearly four decades, Alina Mayo Azze has been welcomed into the living rooms of people watching Spanish-language news in the Miami market.

As the anchor of the local Univision’s Noticias 23 at 6 p.m., Mayo Azze has had an astonishing career with a rock solid reputation for fairness and impeccable delivery.

But another title that Mayo Azze wears proudly is that of Miami Hurricane. She graduated from the University of Miami College of Arts and Sciences in 1981 with a degree in broadcast journalism. This was prior to the establishment of the School of Communication.

Over her stellar career she has interviewed presidents, covered hurricanes, crime, Miami politics, and traveled to far off locations on various assignments. But she says that it all started at UM.

“Those were wonderful years,” she said in the Newsport Studios where she works. “I had the best professors at UM.”

Among those professors: the legendary Judy Wallace, who taught broadcast journalism, worked in the industry and was an excellent speech coach; and Fred Mooke, executive producer of the No. 1 newscast show at the time, “The Ralph Renick Report.”

Back then, Mayo Azze was one of four students chosen by Mooke to participate in a special news series called “The Young Journalists.”

“Imagine, I did a piece, wrote it, edited it and it ran on the Ralph Renick Report,” said Mayo Azze. “He even said our name on the air.”

Getting on the air took a few adjustments for the young Alina. She was extremely shy. Her father Ricardo Mayo, who had worked in the pharmaceutical industry, wanted her to study pharmacy. But Mayo Azze did not see herself dispensing pills her entire life.

One career day at her high school, Our Lady of Lourdes Academy, would change her life.

“Someone came to speak to us about television broadcast news,” she said. “And I said that sounds like fun.”

When her parents heard about her decision to pursue broadcast journalism, they were shocked.

“My father said: ‘You will starve to death’,” she said, adding that they also told her: “You don’t speak to anyone and you plan to speak to thousands of people on camera?”           

But Mayo Azze was determined, and the camera loved her.

“I knew that I had to overcome it (my shyness),” she said. “When a camera turns on, I cannot mess up. You just have to do it.”

Marlene May, one of Mayo Azze’s closest friends who went with her to Our Lady of Lourdes Academy and UM, remembers the first time Mayo Azze anchored in their TV production class.

“She was wearing a red blouse at the time,” said May, who also went into broadcast journalism. “And the minute she appeared on the screen I knew Alina possessed that ‘It’ factor. Her presence just jumped off the screen.” 

That “It” factor may have played a role in gaining her first job just two months after graduation. She started as a reporter for Channel 23 when it was the only Spanish-language station in the market at that time.

Gustavo Godoy, former news director of Channel 23 and her first boss, said of her: “She is a person with integrity, a true professional. In a business that can be cutthroat I never heard her talk badly of anyone.”

Alina Mayo Azze works on copyMayo Azze is well regarded for her equanimity and professionalism on camera. During live shots of tragedies, such as the Parkland shooting last year where 17 people were killed, Mayo Azze’s demeanor and knowledge came through.

“The main thing is to have respect for the viewer,” said Mayo Azze. “Always remember that depending on your delivery you can cause chaos. So just give the facts, never your opinion and rely on the reporters out in the field for the information or whatever the producer is feeding you.”

That professionalism and journalistic integrity is at the heart of what she does every day along with her co-anchor Ambrosio Hernandez. When she talks to students who wish to go into the journalism field she warns them not to skip the basics.

“I always recommend that students get their college degree in journalism, she said. “They teach you the basics of journalism and the ethical side. If you don’t, you will get burned one day. If you make a mistake in the air you cannot take that back.”

Mayo Azze and her husband Jorge, also a UM alumnus who graduated from the School of Architecture in 1981, return to campus often, mostly for UM baseball games. They were both graduation grand marshals during UM Commencement 2009.