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Martinez Doesn't Let Dyslexia Slow Him Down

Saturday, May 11, 2013
By Eladio Jaimez

MartinezKGBT TV Channel 4 President and CEO Tom Keeler was didn’t have trouble finding the words to describe Station Chief Engineer, Elias “Lee” Martinez.

“Lee’s the man!” said Keeler, a 20-year veteran of the business. “He’s the kind of guy that will roll up his sleeves as high as they go and jump right in.”

For the last two years, Martinez has overseen all the technical operations of the station from the transmitter to IT. His duties are vast and intricate and according to Keeler, “no one does it better.”

But it hasn’t come easy for Martinez.

Born in Fort Hood and raised in Kingsville, Martinez moved to the Valley in the mid 1980s when he decided to attend Texas State Technical College (known then as Texas State Technical Institute). He’d spent some time at Texas A&I University in Kingsville but after meeting with a TSTC recruiter, Martinez decided to move south.

But it was while he was in college in Kingsville that Martinez first realized he might have dyslexia. When he moved to Harlingen, he was officially diagnosed by a doctor in Brownsville.

“I was reading and writing at a third-grade level,” said Martinez, who graduated from the engineering technology program at TSTC. “I had a problem inverting letters. I had a problem writing out big words. Instead, I would use a bunch of small words to get my point across.”

Obviously, dyslexia has been a hurdle for Martinez. But it hasn’t slowed him down or stopped him from achieving goals. And he’s been proving doubters wrong his whole life.

“When I was in high school, counselors told my parents that I would probably end up digging ditches or hold some other menial job,” Martinez said. “They told them that college wasn’t for me and I remember sitting in the corner of the room and thinking, ‘I’m not dumb.’ I couldn’t read or write but I knew what I was doing.”

Indeed he did. Martinez quickly found a passion in the technical world where he’s been successful everywhere he’s worked.

He was one of the first engineers hired at Telemundo Channel 40 when the station first went on air in 1999. From there, he moved to Brownsville where he was assistant chief at KVEO Channel 23 before landing in Harlingen and KGBT.

Although his work revolves mostly around the technical aspect of broadcasting, as chief engineer Martinez still has to write reports on a regular basis. His dyslexia still hinders him today but Martinez said he’s learned to deal with it effectively.

“I was concerned taking this job because of my condition,” Martinez admitted. “But I stopped being scared and started asking for help. If I can’t read or spell a word, I just ask for help. And I’ve learned that everyone is willing to help. I embraced what I have and I haven’t looked back.”

Martinez hopes to continue his education in the near future and pursue bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering. His boss and friend, Keeler, isn’t surprised about Martinez’s ambition and drive.

“Lee’s got heart and a great work ethic,” Keeler said. “He’s very intuitive and a great thinker and he’s definitely an inspiration around the station.”

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