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Five podcasts that empower Latinos

Five podcasts that empower Latinos

Podcast producer Isabella Gómez Sarmiento chats to Andrea Cristina Miliani Paez about her favorite Latino-focused podcasts.

Podcasts – those nifty audio episodes on everything from true-crime deep dives to advice on how to make the perfect guacamole – have taken the world by storm.

According to recent data, there are over 383 million podcast listeners across the globe, of which 100 million are located in the US, 2.4 million podcasts and more than 66 million episodes.

But podcasts are more than just a way to learn about a new topic, it is also a way to connect, which is why culture-focused podcasts are so popular. Especially among our communities in the US for whom it is an easy way to stay tuned in to what’s happening in their home country.

Venezuelan-American Isabella Gómez Sarmiento, a producer at NPR, an independent nonprofit media organization that also produces Latino podcasts, and an avid podcast listener agrees.

"If you're Latino in the US you identify certain parts of yourself with your home country and you identify certain parts of yourself with the US," she says. "I think these podcasts find that balance of understanding that gray area.

"It allows us to have those discussions about identity that are really nuanced."

Here, Isabella shares her top five Latino-centric podcasts:

Latino podcastsLatino USA

Latino USA is perhaps one of the most important podcasts with a focus on Latino news in the US. It was founded in 1992 and has been hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning Mexican American journalist Maria Hinojosa ever since.

It was first produced by NPR – making Maria the first Latina to work in the media organization – and is currently produced by Futuro Media, an independent multimedia journalism organization founded by Maria in 2010.

"I think they are the best when it comes to identifying stories that relate to Latinos in the US," Isabella says. "They understand how to cover those stories well and how the news impacts those communities specifically."

The show has won multiple journalism awards, including the prestigious Peabody Award in 2014 for the episode "Gangs, Murder and Migration in Honduras," an investigative report that looked at the reasons why people leave Honduras.

Alt.Latino

Alt.Latino is a Latin music podcast launched in 2010 and hosted by California Mexican-Americans Felix Contreras and Anamaria Sayre, who each bring their unique take on Latin music and culture to the show.

Isabella is a guest contributor to the show and explains that they showcase our culture through in-depth conversations with artists based in Latin American countries and the US.

"For instance, they had one episode with Carla Morrison that was all about mental health. She discussed her experience dealing with mental health challenges and how her music was a part of that," Isabella says. "And they did one with Omar Apollo about being raised as an immigrant in the US."

Five podcasts that empower Latinos

Latina to Latina

Latina to Latina was founded in 2017 by journalist Juleyka Lantigua, and a new episode is shared every week.

For the show, host and journalist Alicia Menendez interviews powerful Latinas about their successes, failures and personal takes on everything from raising a family to shattering a glass ceiling.

Or as the show puts it, "Making it, faking it, and everything in between".

From funny episodes with comedian and writer Cristela Alonzo to a surprising immigration story with superstar beauty vlogger Iris Beilin and deep conversations with Brooklyn 99 actress Stephanie Beatriz, listeners get to hear powerful, real-life stories that resonate in every episode.

As one listener with whom Isabella wholeheartedly agrees said: "This podcast has taught me so much I think all Latino women should take time to listen to this and learn something!"

Cafe con Pam

Oprah Daily recently named Cafe con Pam one of the top Latino podcasts in 2022.

Host and producer Pam Covarrubias embraces her Spanglish and considers curiosity her biggest motivator, so now she asks questions – sometimes uncomfortable – for a living.

As she says: "I like deep thought-provoking questions and I suck at small talk. Don’t talk to me about the weather, tell me what is the last thing you ate that evoked an explosion of pleasure in your mind and soul."

She interviews barrier-breaking Latinos and people of color such as Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodríguez, Ángel Aviles and Chloé Nwangwu, every week and presents an optimistic perspective on how they make the world a better place.

No topic is off limits for Pam, who tackles everything from the sex questions most people are too embarrassed to ask to more spiritual topics like how to find courage. 

Radio Menea

Also with a focus on music, Radio Menea explores Latin American culture and social issues.

The podcast was founded in 2016 and is hosted by writer-activists Miriam Zoila Pérez and Verónica Bayetti Flores. 

Isabella explains the format: "They just had an episode about natural disasters in the Caribbean and Latin America, just after the hurricanes in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, and talked about how musicians from those regions are influenced by environmental issues.

"They looked at the work of Bad Bunny and Bomba Estéreo and how they make environmental statements through their music because the places where they live are the most affected by these natural disasters and climate change."


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