ANAHEIM — The caller was bringing tears to Maria Nunez's eyes.
The host of the fledgling Spanish-language cable talk show "Communidad Latina con Maria y Lety," Nunez had been reminiscing before a recent taping about a battered woman who had once called the program begging for assistance. And now, 45 minutes into the current show, the woman was calling back to thank Nunez and her co-host, Lety Dominguez, for their help.
"She had come to Anaheim from New York City because her husband had been beating her for 14 years and she didn't want to be beaten any more, but she didn't know where to go for help," Nunez explained later. "Well, Lety gave her some numbers to call and now she said everything is OK.
"She just said, 'I can't thank you enough because you have helped me so much,' " Nunez said. "I try not to cry on the air, but I couldn't help it."
Since it began in December, the show, seen at 6 p.m. Wednesdays on MultiVision Cable television's Channel 3, has tackled such topics as AIDS, domestic violence and alcohol abuse. After a week break, the hour-long community access program--which is available in Anaheim, Anaheim Hills and Villa Park--is scheduled to return tonight with a show about slumlords. The program's producers believe it is the only Spanish-language call-in talk show on Orange County television.
"Lety and I were noticing that all of the programs on Hispanic television seem to be either entertainment or sports," Nunez said. "We want to have a program that deals with real people and real subjects and try to help our viewers find solutions. So far, we have had an incredible response."
Said Dominguez: "There is a need in the Latino community for the type of information we are trying to put out. For a lot of these people, the information we have can keep them off welfare or the streets."
Nunez is a 49-year-old independent television producer from Palos Verdes Estates, while Dominguez, 62, operates shelters for the homeless and for single mothers in San Pedro. They were lured to the 40,000-subscriber cable system by its programming manager, Arthur W. Maulsby.
He said with Latinos composing at least one-third of Anaheim's residents, it makes sense for the system to bolster its Spanish-language programming. The system currently carries Spanish-language station KMEX and multi-language KSCI, which has some Spanish programs. The system has distributed flyers in the Latino community and aired ads during other programs to publicize the show.
"From a purely business perspective, I don't think anyone is going to subscribe (to cable) just because of this program," Maulsby said. "But it does add to our overall package and it is good public service."
Mediation was the topic of another recent program. The show's two telephone lines were ringing constantly--most callers wanted information from guests Judi Skalnik of the city of Orange Fair Housing Department and Mary Castagna of Los Angeles County's voluntary mediation services, who explained the services that are available for settling disputes.
"This is a good program because information is education," Skalnik said. "And there is a lot of educating that needs to be done."
Other callers wanted help with immigration problems and Dominguez told them of agencies they should contact.
"Lety handles all of the calls that get off the night's topic," Maulsby said. "She knows how to get help for everybody."
An unusual "coincidence" on the most recent show was that more than half of the callers were named "Lupe." On another program, Nunez said, "Consuelo" was the name of the night. She said some Latinos adopt a pseudonym out of a vague fear that the government will be able to identify them and harass them in some way.
"If the first call of the night is from 'Lupe,' the rest of the night we'll have calls from 'Lupes,' " she said.
All of the programs have had calls from start to finish, Nunez said, except the program on domestic violence.
"That night we only got two calls and one of those was from a man who wanted to stop beating his wife and wanted help," Nunez said. "But Lety gave out the number for her shelter and the next day she got lots of calls."
Said Dominguez: "They all said they wanted to call that night to get help, but their husband was home and they knew they would get beaten if they called. But (once) their husbands were at work . . . they could call."
* \o7 "Communidad Latina con Maria y Lety" airs Wednesdays at 6 p.m. in Anaheim, Anaheim Hills and Villa Park on MultiVision Cable television's Channel 3.\f7