Latinx Empowerment Through Podcast

The Rise of Latinx Podcasts

In the last year, dozens of Latinx podcasts have popped up on Soundcloud, Apple Podcast and anywhere else podcasts are available. They’re everyday Latinxs sharing their thoughts and passions through a do-it-yourself method that aims to empower their communities. (Rollover the image to hear a short radio piece)

Podcast hosts use #supportbrownpdcasts throughout their social media posts to create community and encourage Latinx representation.

Podcasterio Fest 2017

Latinx podcasters gather for the first annual Podcasterio Fest 2017, a Latinx digital media experience. The event was held at at La Plaza De Cultura y Artes in Downtown Los Angeles.


The sound of a mariachi band can be heard in the distance while paleteros and merchants sell tasty treats and Mexican-inspired crafts.  It’s a typical warm Sunday afternoon on Olvera Street, a Mexican marketplace in Downtown Los Angeles. Right across the street at La Plaza De Cultura y Artes is a different mix of Latinos who are making their mark in the world of podcasts.

On Nov. 18, the Podcasterio Network hosted it’s first-ever Podcasterio Fest, a Latinx digital media experience aiming to create a community for brown podcasts all across the United States.

Podcasterio Fest was created as a response to the increase of Latinx hosted podcasts around the country in the last year. The numbers continue to rise as more shows pop up on Soundcloud and Apple Podcast, and over 20 shows were present at the festival. Podcasts are usually associated with white, male, intellectual hosts and have received numerous criticisms for this lack of representation.


“The iTunes Top 100 chart is dominated by shows featuring white hosts even as research shows the share of the podcast audience comprised of non-white listeners is growing fast,” wrote Steve Friess in the Columbia Journalism Review’s “Why Are Podcasts #SoWhite?”

While diversity and inclusion are hot topics in media, podcasting has lacked representation of the Latinx community, outside of NPR’s “Radio Ambulante" or “Latino USA.”

“[Seven years ago], if you were going to speak about podcasting and Latinos being a big market play, I think everyone would have looked at you and just rolled your eyes as if you were a little crazy,” said “Latino USA’s” Maria Hinojosa.

Podcasterio Network is different than the typical NPR podcast or radio show. Instead of award-winning journalists or high-acclaimed experts bantering about a certain topic, these Latinx hosts are everyday people sharing their stories and giving back to their communities.

A post shared by WaitHoldUp (@waitholduppod) on

Wait, Hold Up's Yarel Ramos and Jessica Molina with Natalia Jimenez.

“We felt there wasn't enough honesty happening. ‘Hood Digest’ started off as an introduction to conversations people were having behind closed doors and afraid to have in public,” says Elmer Roldan, host of “Hood Digest.” A podcast describing itself as a “blend of humor and critical analysis to make sense of stuff happening in the world.”

This is just one example of the Podcasterio Network’s online-audio shows and the power that they hold in simply sharing their narratives and experiences on the air. They broadcast conversations with the intention to empower the Latinx, a gender-neutral identifier, community and educate white Americans to learn from non-white American experiences.

“I feel like there is a much greater connection to the things going on in my community and my people,” said festival attendee, Vicente Godfrey. “They’re a good source of information on what people think about certain topics and issues.”

Listeners, like Godfrey, show that conversations about current events and intellectual topics are nothing new to the Latinx community ,as said by Latino Rebels founder and “In The Thick” podcast host, Julio Ricardo Varela.

“This is who we are. These conversations that are now called intersectional, I was having them in the Bronx in high school,” said Varela. “These are not invented, this is my life.”

The conversations might not be new, but many of these podcasts are just hitting their one-year anniversary. “Locatora Radio” is a radio-phonic novela hosted by the self-proclaimed “mamis of myth and bullsh**t.” Mala Munoz and Diosa Femme are two women of color who are determined to re-write the crazy Latina stereotype.

“We can actually embrace stereotypes and say the things that you say are negative about us actually highlight our creativity and genius," said Munoz.

Their podcast, which averages over 2,000 listens per episode on Soundcloud, is for women and female-identifying individuals. These two have seen massive success in their first year and are now speaking on panels at different colleges and universities.

Breaking stereotypes and broadcasting conversations were main topics of the entire event. But, it’s the community aspect of each podcast that stands out. 

“[Podcasting] is about wanting to have a community and its about the fact that if no one has been telling our stories, then what are we listening for,” asks Jessica Molina of “Wait, Hold Up.”

Other hosts see an attainable solution to this question, if more Latinos choose to share their stories through online radio.

“While our message can connect with some, we need other voices to connect with other people so that everybody sees themselves represented and their stories there,” said Pam Covarubbias of the “Cafe Con Pam” podcast.

These do -it -yourself Latinx podcast hosts see themselves as the new faces of online radio.

“The amount of growth we’ve seen in such short period of time really shows us that it’s doing something,” said “De Colores Radio’s” Rafael Tamayo. His co-host Eva Arreguin says podcasts can foster change. “Our particular group of people have always found a way to share our stories. Podcast is the next thing that's revolutionary.”


When J Cruz was 13-years-old, he sat his parents down and told them that he wanted to be on the radio. Fast forward to present day and Cruz is now a morning show host on Los Angeles hip-hop station, Power 106. A station widely known for broadcasting the latest in hip-hop and rap since 1986.

“I knew that Power [106] was the place that I needed to be,” said Cruz.

He is the first-ever Latino to host his own show on the hip-hop station. The radio DJ hosts his morning show, #TheCruzShow, alongside, DJ Lechero, Jeff the Sports Dude and Krystal Bee. Their one of the few morning show casts that consists of English-speaking Latinos.

Latinos not only dominate the morning show, but Power 106 was also recently purchased for $82.75 million by Meruelo Group, the largest minority-owned media group in California.

“When it comes to Latinos we need more representation on TV, on radio, [and] on screen,” said the morning show host. “We just need better representation, along with an abundance of representation, we also need better representation.”

While Cruz does believe that more representation is needed in  mediums of entertainment, he does not see the need for a podcast crossover.

“If I was a podcast dude I'd be like, ‘Nah, man we're the new wave.’ This is what it is and I get that. But you know that wave can fizzle,” said Cruz.

It’s a new wave that other Latino podcast hosts do see as one strong enough to rise above its older competitor.

“We are now living in an on-demand society. We've seen it with Netflix, and we've seen it with Amazon Prime. I think that podcasts are just an extension of that,” says Molina. “For better or for worse, instant gratification is king here, and with the podcast, just like Netflix, that's what you're going to get.”

In the last year, Forbes reports that, “increasingly, purchased streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, et.al.) are displacing broadcast and cable, making it harder for advertisers to reach their audience on TV.”

Linda Garcia, known as Luz Warrior, of “Let There Be Luz”, says there needs to be more awareness of podcasts within the entire Latinx community.

Radio vs Podcast

“I think the awareness of podcasts in the Latinx community isn't as expansive or as progressive as it should be,” said the “Let There Be Luz” host. “Many people that don’t understand. It’s raising awareness and later on, there will be bingeing.”

Latinos are already listening to large amounts of radio. In 2015, Southern California Public Radio partnered with the Latino Public Radio Consortium to attract more of a Latino audience to their shows with the “Brown Paper” case study.

The case called for community outreach, focus groups, and the launch of “Take Two,” a Latino-hosted show,  which increased KPCC’s  Latino audience by 96 percent from 2009 to 2014.

The “Brown Paper” case study concluded  “[25-35-year-old Latinos] are more deeply interested in hearing a diversity of voices coming from people whose background gives a more textured rendition of the stories they’re reporting on.”

“I think we need a lot more podcasts out there because not only are we representing for our selves for our cultures, but it builds this whole different community, where so have Instagram, but now podcasting is taking over that,” says Mandy, host of “Viva La Round Girls.”

One thing J Cruz warns podcasters of is that once monetary success comes in to play, they must learn to balance creativity and business.

“What I don't think a lot of podcasters understand is the creativeness of being yourself and still taking care of station business,” said Cruz.

Power 106 and Podcasterio Fest have a lot in common, the main thing, bringing community to Latinos all across the United States. They're both breaking down the Latinx stereotype and making their voices heard.

Meet Some of The Hosts

Cerebronas Podcast Hosts: Yvette and Cynthia.

Latinos Who Lunch Hosts: FavyFav and Babelito.

De Colores Collective Hosts: Rafael Tamayo and Eva Arreguin

Tamarindo Podcaast Hosts: Brenda Gonzalez and Melinna Bobadilla

Wait, Hold Up! Podcast Hosts: Jessica Molina and Yarel Ramos

Nos Vemos En El Swapmeet Podcast Host: Luis Octavio

Cafe Con Pam Podcast Host: Pam Covarrubias

Viva La Round Girls Hosts: Megan, Mandy and Keke

Radio Menea Hosts: Miriam Zoila Pérez and Verónica Bayetti Flores.

Las Cafecitas Hosts: Isis Madrid and Maria Murriel

Let There Be Luz Host: Luz Warrior

Locatora Radio Hosts: Mala Munoz and Diosa Femme