About 144 million Americans are tuning in to podcasts. That’s 51% of the population over 12 years of age. It should come as no surprise that podcast genres big and small are booming — 20 million more people in 2019 than in 2020. There are nearly 60 million Spanish-speaking Americans. Is it a surprise that the Spanish podcast is here to stay?
In this article, we’ll explore some of the characteristics of podcasts, including why they’re so popular. We’ll get to know what they are, their intersection with radio, and why they’re so popular with advertisers. Then, we’ll get into additional information about the world of the Spanish podcast. What’s similar, and what sets its apart from its counterpart in English? Is there any difference in preference in the Spanish-speaking market? What are some good podcasts to listen to en Español?
Don’t worry, I know this can seem like an overwhelming amount of information for first-timers. Let’s start out slow and work our way up!
About 92% of people listen to the radio, one way or another. It’s still a hugely popular medium. As time passed, it’s gained an even more intense following online. Podcasts come in at the intersection between on-demand content and online radio.
Listeners can download podcasts as audio episodes and listen to them whenever they like. In that way, they work as a sort of listen-when-you-want Talk Radio. People can listen to them during their daily commute, at the gym, before going to bed, or whatever seems like the right fit at the time. Another big podcast draw is that they’re very easy to make, produce and release. Practically anyone with a working microphone, a couple of audio programs, and an internet connection can make a podcast happen.
While that can make it hard to measure quality and produce a state of surplus offer, it’s generally very good. Big companies and broadcasters tend to put out radio shows in a podcast format. The BBC, for example, has most of its content out in easily digestible podcasts bits. That allows users to experience shows whenever it suits their fancy.
But podcasting is not just about hewing close to tried and true radio conventions. What’s exciting about the accessibility of podcasts is that it allows content creators to address their interests in a more targeted way. Gone are the days of radio being created by a committee. While you can probably find several instances of podcasts that have been focus-grouped to death, there are some insanely popular ones just flying by the seat of their pants.
Podcasts, then, are increasingly a platform for mavericks and countercultural figures. Love him or hate him, Joe Rogan is now one of the most listened-to men on the internet. His podcasts span the gamut from celebrity interviews to out-there fitness and wellness tips. You can bet it’s one of the cultural touchstones of the internet, with around 200 million monthly downloads. Add that to the healthy interest from YouTubers, and you get a sense that everybody’s listening.
The success of a podcast personality like Joe Rogan wouldn’t have been possible at another time. It simply would’ve been impossible to have complete creative control over a syndicated radio show. As a man prone to controversial statements and guests, Rogan would’ve been booted off the air or cowed into submission a long time ago. That makes podcasting a special type of platform for cultural mavericks and daredevils. It’s also an increasingly fertile ground for niche interests.
You can encounter podcasts of every stripe that tackle even the most obscure topics. From gardening through true-crime or political, into stranger territory like taxidermy or VFX, podcasts have something for everyone. They can also come in standalone or serialized formats. Some podcasts engage in fictional storytelling that is drawn across episodes, or they tackle subjects that benefit from a long-form narrative. For example, a true-crime podcast can follow a multi-year case as it develops, reeling the listener in with new information.
Simply put, there’s a podcast out there for anyone, no doubt about it. With over 30 million podcast episodes available and 850000 shows, you’d be hard-pressed not to find something that piques your interest.
The Spanish podcast
Podcasts are not catching on in the Spanish-speaking market — they’ve already caught on in a big way. Out of the 40 million Spanish-speaking adults in the US, 4.8 are already tuning in. 61% are even listening to more podcasts than they did the previous year. Two-thirds have claimed that they’re also looking for a new Spanish podcast to listen to! There’s little doubt that the market is growing, and that’s making big companies and broadcasters pay attention.
For example, Univision, the largest provider of Spanish-language content in the US, is jumping into podcasting big time. Jesus Lara, Univision Radio President, said the following:
“The beauty of podcasting is that it is an absolutely natural extension to the relationship we have with our audience. We have an unparalleled connection via radio, via TV, and it’s just another powerful media platform.” He also stated that 68% of listeners feel more engaged and connected when the voice speaking to them is in their own language.
“The podcasting platform is going to be open to any radio or TV talent that is passionate about a particular topic and they want to develop a show (…), what I’m most excited about when it comes to podcasting is it really allows us to give our incredible wealth of talent the opportunity to go deep into subject matters that they’re very passionate about,” he continued.
And of course, not only big companies are interested in the world of the Spanish podcast. While it will no doubt generate more listeners to have the backing of Univision, things are great for independents. Creators have unprecedented freedom to tackle subjects big and small, niche or famous. That’s a good thing because Spanish-content listeners need to be catered to in more subtle ways than just usual “Latino” programming.
Spanish podcast examples
In the Thick
Hosts María Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela take listeners on a political journey. They never shy away from topics dealing with identity, race, trauma, racism, and different levels and sources of oppression. If you’re going to go with a socially-conscious Spanish podcast, you could do a lot worse than this one; it’s a great window into Latin culture and the problems of that minority. This podcast never shies away from dealing with difficult subjects.
News in Slow Spanish
Oh, how I would’ve loved to have something in this when I was learning English! If Spanish is not your first language, you could come to really appreciate this podcast. It’s a great tool for listeners who want to keep up with current events while learning a new language. The content is exactly what’s advertised by the title: relevant news read aloud in slow Spanish. A delightful listen with your first cup of coffee in the morning.
Café con Pam
Pam Covarruvias helms this feminist, bold podcast. She frequently interviews boundary-breaking people of color that have fearlessly changed others’ lives. She also engages with issues around sexuality, and health in a loose, relaxed, approachable way. I’m not going to tell you to drink another cup of coffee while listening to this, but you should follow your conscience. And your conscience should be telling you to drink more coffee, just in case you were wondering.
Looking for a deeper dive into Latin American culture and folk myths? Then you’ve just hit the mother lode. To top things off, this podcast is bilingual, so you get to enjoy the best of both worlds. Carolina Quiroga-Stultz explores narratives typical to Latin American, Indo-American, and the Afro-Latin-American culture. She also interviews a host of authors related to these topics. An enriching listen all-around.