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Diego Castellanos and family circa 1997. Photo: AL DÍA Archives.
Diego Castellanos and family circa 1997. Photo: AL DÍA Archives.

Diego Castellanos, Philly media icon and ‘Puerto Rican Panorama’ host, dies at 88

Diego Castellanos’ career in media left an impact on Philly’s Puerto Rican community and history.

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Throughout his career, Diego Castellanos made his presence known in both Philly media and the city’s Puerto Rican community.

With a career spanning 6ABC to his very own program, Puerto Rican Panorama, Castellanos’ influence in the city runs deep.

Born in Guayama in 1933, Castellanos started his broadcasting career young in 1954. 

Spending the majority of his life in the Delaware Valley, Castellanos got his start in broadcasting by hosting a Spanish-language radio show for 1310 WCAM in Camden, New Jersey.

Castellanos received his training in journalism at Milwaukee’s Marquette University. He was later awarded his masters degree from Montclair State University, and later his education doctorate from Fairleigh Dickinson University thereafter.

Within Philly’s Puerto Rican community, Castellanos addressed the needs of the community with the help of his media platforms.

Castellanos’ program Puerto Rican Panorama ran for nearly 50 years, spanning between 1970 and 2018. The program’s conclusion coincided with Castellanos’ retirement.

With the program, Panorama became the longest-running English-language television program in the world to focus on Latin American and Hispanic cultures.

For years, Puerto Rican Panorama saw regular airing on television sets in Philly. The program would often switch time slots in its airing schedule, prompting annoyance among\ its viewers.

The target audience of Castellanos’ program encompassed three groups: non-Spanish-speaking viewers, second and third generation Latinos, and Latinos who did not speak Spanish as their first language.

The community leader and broadcaster was also a pilot, author, musician, activist, academic, teacher, producer, director, father, and husband. 

Along with other broadcasting personalities, such as Walter Perez, Castellanos was the host of Philly’s Puerto Rican Day Parade.

Castellanos authored The Best of Two Worlds, and served as a commissioned officer in the New Jersey National Guard, where he learned to fly.

In 2002, he was inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia Hall of Fame. Past his Hall of Fame status, Castellanos has been awarded near countless accolades throughout his career.

Castellanos passed away earlier this month. A funeral service took place this past Thursday, May 5.

Reverend Bonnie Camarda, in conversation with The Philadelphia Inquirer, called Castellanos the “Mr Rogers” of Philly’s Puerto Rican community.

The legendary broadcaster’s legacy will be held dear in the hearts of Philadelphia’s Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Latin American communities.

Donations can now be made in Diego Castellanos’ name to the Deborah Heart and Lung Center, located at 200 Trenton Road in Browns Mills, New Jersey.

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