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Carolina Guerrero – Radio Ambulante: Breaking the Language Barrier One Story at a Time

Carolina Guerrero – Radio Ambulante: Breaking the Language Barrier One Story at a Time


– So to celebrate National
Hispanic Heritage Month this year the Humanities Forum
presents Carolina Guerrero, Breaking the Language
Barrier, One Story at a Time. Just a quick fact. Do you guys know that the
National Hispanic Heritage Month started as the Hispanic
Heritage Week, okay? That was in 1968 and fortunately since
1988 we get a whole month, from September 15th to October 15th. This month is a national
celebration of the role Latino cultures have played in the culture and the history of the United States. As our communities are still
target of harmful policies in our current political climate, I invite you to truly
celebrate what this month, that started as just one week, means to this country. A celebration of our country’s diversity and of the traditions
and stories of Hispanics, Latinas, Latinos, Latinx, Afro-Latinos, and our indigenous communities, that’s why we need a whole month, and those that have helped
shape this country’s history. This is one of the many
reasons why we’re very happy to have Carolina Guerrero here at UMBC. Carolina Guerrero is a
co-founder and executive director of Radio Ambulante, a groundbreaking and Spanish-language podcast that tells neglected and under-reported
Latin-American stories. Founded in 2011 by a team led by award-winning novelist Daniel Alarcón, and entrepreneur Carolina Guerrero, Radio Ambulante has produced
more than 60 episodes from more than 20 countries and partnered with
English-language outlets like Planet Money, RadioLab,
the New York Times magazine, and This American Life. Radio Ambulante’s ground-breaking work has been celebrated across
the U.S. and in Latin America, and was honored with the
Gabriel Garcia Marquez prize for innovation in journalism in 2014, which is a very prestigious
journalism award in Latin America. Before co-founding Radio Ambulante, Carolina Guerrero worked as a promoter for cultural and social projects, creating a bridge between organizations in her native Colombia and
public and private institutions in Latin America and the United States. Guerrero is passionate about solving the problem of inequality of access and democratizing the
kinds of stories being told across the region. Guerrero was a John S.
Knight journalism fellow at Stanford University. And as a loyal fan of Radio Ambulante, I welcome Carolina Guerrero. (audience claps) – So thank you for having me. I’m very very excited to be here, to talk about Radio Ambulante. Thank you for the introduction. Just a little detail, we have now more than
100 episodes produced. I’m gonna talk about how we
have speed that very quick. Oops, is it? We’ll see. Don’t worry, I have 100 slides,
so I will just keep going. Okay, I think I want to start, because, anyone, everyone, is familiar
here with Radio Ambulante? Can you please, can we do a show of hands? Who knows the project? Okay. How many of you speak Spanish? Or some Spanish? That’s better, okay, maybe. I’m gonna do this in
English, so don’t worry, but I’m gonna start playing some audio, so you can know what we do. This is a very short story. Radio Ambulante’s episodes
are between 22 minutes long and one hour, so we’ll
start with this one. – [Hernando] (speaking Spanish) – So in 2007 Daniel Alarcón,
who is the co-founder of Radio Ambulante and the host, was hired by the BBC. He’s also my husband. So he was hired by BBC to
produce an audio-documentary in his native Peru. It was about Andean migration
and he was hired, actually, because he published before, a novel. He’s a novelist. Or he was a novelist, now he’s a producer. But he was a novelist, and he wrote a book about radio. So he was asked to go with
that radio producer to Peru and conduct a bunch of interviews
in English and Spanish. He was the Spanish-speaker of the crew. And he spent a couple of weeks there and went to the United
States, where he used to live, and a month later he received the link to final mix of the story, and he was very disappointed, because the most compelling
voices of the story were left out, because those
voices were in Spanish. So he was left with a question, no? What if there was a space for those voices on the radio waves? And what would it sound like? So years later, in 2011,
Daniel and I were having coffee in San Francisco, California
and planning the future, and we decided to create this space. Daniel told me (speaks Spanish) and it was a conversation
that we had many times. We were avid listeners of public radio. We admired shows like This
American Life or RadioLab, if you’re familiar with one of those. They were on the radio
actually, at the time. We were always finishing an
episode of one of those shows and were complaining, thinking,
oh wow, this was great, I hope there will be something
like that from Latin America. We heard those stories all of our lives, and we wanted to have a space like that, feeling represented on those shows. So we decided to create it. So Radio Ambulante is a
project of narrative journalism in sound. We want to offer, as
Daniel mentioned before, a space to hear under
reported and neglected stories from Latin America and the U.S. We want to bring new voices
to the media outlets as well. We know that in the United States, the Latinos don’t get
as much representation, not only their stories
are not always told, but also there are not enough
spaces for these producers, so we want to bring more of those. At the time, that was 2011,
we didn’t do a market research or anything like that. You’re in marketing research? Nothing, we just had a
lot of passion and drive. We went home that night. We sent an email to a bunch
of journalists that we knew, like 30 people that we
knew in Latin America, and told them the story. This format, this long form, so what I’m describing is
long-form audio journalism, it’s stories that are character driven. So we sent an email. In Spanish, there was
not something like that, so we had to explain a
bit what we were doing, and next morning we woke up and we had already stories and ideas, so we knew that we had something. And we believe that that
was a perfect moment to do Radio Ambulante, because we believe, so we believe that
political borders are real, but cultural and linguistic
borders are very fluid. We also are from the United States, with more than 50 millions
Latinos and Spanish-speakers, or able to understand Spanish, it’s another Latin American country. And we also know that
technology has changed the way we produce and share content. So we knew that was a good
moment to produce audio, but most of all we knew
that a well-told story is universal and crosses borders. So we were very enthusiastic
about Radio Ambulante, but there was a problem. We didn’t know anything about radio. So we were like okay,
now we have to learn, because we already have
promised to create this show, we already have pitches, so we had to teach ourselves. And of course that teaching included going and doing some consultations, we go oh, who do we know? Who do we know? And Oh, this reporter,
she’s in NPR in Bolivia, all like this, NPR Peruvian,
Mandalit del Barco, you know. We were trying to find
whoever Latino we knew who could understand and give
us some training or something. So on that we heard things like this. A lot of skepticism, you know, like oh producing, I have to read down here
because I don’t have glasses, producing such stories sounds great, but to what extent? Then what? Podcasts? At the time it seemed
that nobody was so much into doing much in podcasts. And also I consulted with a
person at a big media outlet, who was a head of radio and
he appreciated the enthusiasm, but was very skeptical because for him, Mexicans only listen
to stories from Mexico, Argentinians from Argentina,
Puerto Ricans from Puerto Rico, and so he said, oh yeah, this
will never be successful. I’m so glad I didn’t, because
I took a flight to Miami to talk to him, and so I’m so glad I
didn’t follow his advice. So we talked about all of this, because there was a lot of resistance for a Spanish-language audio
project in the United States. We heard all the time, do it in English, and we knew that this journalism had to be created in Spanish. So we kept our goal, tried
to focus on our goal, and just what we want to do is to cover Latin
America like nobody does. We really want to complicate
your story of Latin America, broad the conversation, I’m
bringing all of you closer to the idea that you
have of Latin America, because we hear certain narratives, but we feel that this is very narrow. So with that in mind, I will describe a Radio Ambulante story. It’s complex, it’s
nuanced, it’s entertaining, and it’s moving. It has characters, narrative
arc, a beginning and an end. It’s always surprising and unique. We use the same elements that
non-fiction uses in print, but bring them to the format of audio. We ask, when we interview
characters, we ask them to describe scenes, if this is, do you want
me to turn off the screen? You got it? Okay. So when we interview
characters for Radio Ambulante we ask them to describe
scenes, to describe feelings, you know, it’s very very
personal journalism. I call it, personally, journalism. Daniel doesn’t like it, but it’s really, because we do a lot of fact-checking and we report rigorously, but for us it’s just telling stories
from the perspective of the protagonist in the story, because we want to make sure
that we’re telling the stories, the voices that make Buenos
Aires or Peru or Lima or Bogota, those cities alive,
are telling the stories from the inside out. So that’s why we want to be very incisive with our interviews. So how does it sound? I want to play some audio. I like this quote from
Revista Que Pasa, Chile, that says Radio Ambulante has
become Latin America’s radio: where all accents blend
and borders disappear. It’s not that we wanted
to unify all the accents, or the cultures, actually
just the opposite. We wanted to make sure that
we created Radio Ambulante to understand what makes us different and how we are similar. We want to make sure that
we have a story from Chile and you can really react to that story or create some empathy if
you are here in Baltimore, and I think that’s the power of audio. We believe that the human
voice has this power that you somehow trust that voice, so the format, and now that
everything is in podcast, with your earplugs, it’s
really like a friend telling you a story and
you let those voices tell a story that you
probably wouldn’t hear, because it’s from another
place, another country. Okay, so I want to play, we’re gonna try, I have a couple of clips that describe how does Latin America
sound for Radio Ambulante? This is not story driven,
so maybe we miss a part, you will just recognize
a couple of accents, so this is from our first season. This is how it sounded a bit,
just to have some voices, I’m not sure if… (speaking Spanish) I’m gonna try with this one,
this is how we sound now. (speaking Spanish) So this, as you see, the last part, I’m not sure if the subtitles
were working at the moment, Daniel said on this promo, which we just launched our new season, this promo is for this season, we’re producing 36 episodes. So let me tell you, I
want to give you a bit of a take on the process
to produce this content, because it sounds, when
you listen it’s so easy to listen to, that it
seems easy to produce. So I’m gonna just describe our process. We use technology, all
the benefits of technology offered now, to produce,
like this one for example. Sometimes it crashes, you
know it isn’t perfect. So we are 14 people working from nine different places, cities. We are in New York, Bogota,
we have people in Quito, in San Jose, in San Juan,
in London, many places, Mexico, I keep forgetting, because we keep growing the team. So we have basically, we
use Slap to communicate, Zoom, Dropbox to share
documents, recording, digital recorders, Trint,
very recommended for people who want to transcribe, and this is how a Radio
Ambulante meeting looks like. I hope it will, oh it’s not, but this is a photo of a
team, basically working on teleconference, and this
is how we create this content. So just to give you an
idea of how intensive this process, this entire process is, okay it’s not working, because that’s, okay I will tell you. So we receive stories, we
receive pitches, from everywhere. Anyone can send us a page of a story, and we just make sure
that if it’s a good fit for Radio Ambulante, what
we do is that we assign to the person who sent that page, all of you are welcome to
submit pages, by the way. So we make sure that we see,
okay, is this character-driven, is there something unique,
surprising, of the story, so we’ll receive a lot of, oh
I want to tell you this story about this community, a woman, victims of abuse in Nicaragua, so okay, so that’s not the
story for Radio Ambulante. The story will be, this
is the story of Marta, she passed through this, this is da da da, and this is how she overcame that. It’s not that we do
personal separation stories, this is an example, but it’s kind of like you want to see something that is unique because at the end, what we do is narrate stories in
the way of non-fiction, as a movie, but this is your movie. So we receive the page, the
we assign it to an editor. The editor works with this producer. We do research, and when
the story is working, most of these journalists
are print journalists, because it’s not common to
have worked on long-form audio, so we usually, this editor works
very closely to a reporter. We set up a bunch of
questions, we assign an editor, we coach the interview,
record the interview, tell them how to record it, they go and record the interview,
we transcribe all the audio, so pages and pages of
audio, we create an outline, cut tape, write the first
draft, and then we start writing many drafts. So it’s kind of writing first
draft, edit, second draft, edit, read to tape to see
if it works with the audio that we had transcribed, but
we want to make sure that the voice of the
character is strong enough to carry the story. If it sounds well, like
mixing the narration of the journalist and the
characters of the story, we write the third draft of the
script, we edit with a group so we have then all the
editors of Radio Ambulante working on this story for
four, five, six hours, working on the script. Just to give you an idea, in audio, for stories between 30 minutes, that is the medial time of
a story of Radio Ambulante, we are talking about
one page is one minute, so we’re talking about working on scripts of 30, 50 pages, so this is very intense. So they edit with the group. I don’t do it, they do it. They write a fourth draft,
they go to tracking and studio, they create a rough mix,
which is not the final mix. We see if it sounds well. That rough mix including,
incorporating some music, some sounds, sound effects, ambient sound that the reporter recorded on the ground, and that’s something that, we have to find very
skilled people to do that, because we don’t want this music or sound to interfere with the story, we want just to help create sensations,
work with the sounds, maybe take some breathing, like (makes breath sounds) these kind of things, but kind of like accompany the mood, so it requires a lot, this is like holding a
little egg that will break. The story is like that. It’s really a lot of work. Then the host Daniel
tracks, then we pass it to sound design, to final sound design, that takes another week,
and then we publish. And then after publication,
now it’s not just publishing. Before I was uploading this to SoundCloud, sharing some apps, and go
to Twitter and Facebook, but now we have another
process of engagement, that is like the new thing, no? And it’s the most important thing, really, because it’s the way to reach audiences and to make sure the story’s complete. I’m gonna talk about that later. So in general, producing a story, we were on times producing each
episode of Radio Ambulante, of those 36 that we’re gonna launch, that we just launched last week, takes between two and six months, but some of those stories
take one or two years to be produced. There are stories, investigative stories, that we are following, we have
been following for two years, and we just learned that one
is developing another story, so it’s really really intense. So with this process in
mind, as you imagine, to people with no knowledge of any radio, of how to produce radio, and
launching a podcast in 2012, we had a couple of
co-founders, Martina Casran and Al Coriel, they were journalists, but they were not able to
work on the podcast full-time, so what we tried, with
Daniel, it was pulling, learning a pulling, and finding talent, transferring the talent,
growing, finding more talent, and like that. So two years ago we were
six people, now we’re 14, but it took us four years, between 2012 and 2016 to do
this with just a few people. So I’m gonna show you how our growth, our process of growth, I’m gonna probably skip this
because it requires audio, we’ll see if it works, but it’s, so the thing is that proving, we had to prove a lot of, we have been requested
with Radio Ambulante a lot, to prove that this was a good idea, even when we knew that it was a good idea, we still listen to things like this, no? – [Man] Hey, excuse me,
are you Carolina Guerrero, from Radio Ambulante? – Say oh yes, no? I am Carolina Guerrero, how do you know? – [Man] I’m a huge fan. – Oh thank you, so what’s
you’re favorite episode of Radio Ambulante, tell me? – [Man] Oh actually no, I
don’t speak any Spanish, like none, but I think
you guys are just amazing. I love what you do. – So that’s very interesting. And also like this. – [Man] And by the way,
your English is so good. – That I do believe it, but this is somethings that we are always, of course, we hear this all the time. But also we know that we can
take that to our advantage. Because on a way, we have parted
with every single podcast, the ones that we admire,
because they never see us as competitors. And really, we hear all the time like, oh, do you know a reporter in Mexico? We became like this point of contact between us and Latin America
for many media outlets, and we are happy to do that, because, so we feel that we are very well placed, because it’s not just
helping media outlets here, it’s just like bringing all
those voices and stories from Latin America that usually, they hardly find space in media, and whatever comes to American media, it’s kind of global, too. So we think that that’s a great thing. And the other thing is that, also we hear many interesting things, but we also listen to things like that, I’m gonna read it. This is a tweet, a recent tweet. Radio Ambulante is so good. Not good for a Spanish-language podcast. Great podcast without qualification. Probably in my top two shows of all time in English or Spanish. Every story is so good,
I feel bad for people who can’t listen in Spanish. So I like that tweet of course, but it’s true that what
we try to tell people is that this podcast,
that we try for excellence on producing every story, and we want to make sure
that this is just accidental that it’s in Spanish when we
work in the United States, because sometimes people
catalog, place Radio Ambulante on a category that is like, oh, yeah, it’s in Spanish so it’s Latino, so less funding, less opportunity,
less pay for sponsorship, so we just continuously
are like no, no, no, the same for sponsorship, no? We are trying always to
call attention to funders and to possible investors
or funders, partners, that this content is extraordinary. So this is how we started. This is a beautiful, cute photo, that probably you will see very quick. Those are my son and my nephews and niece and this was in Oakland,
California, farmer’s market. Actually crossing the
street, we had this bake sale and we were raising money
for Radio Ambulante, and we raised like $300 during
our Kickstarter campaign, and we were so proud, but let me tell you, like this graph, I hope that this works, because it has important information. So we’ll see if it’s, okay. So I’m gonna just describe like this. We launched in 2012 after
raising $46,000 in Kickstarter. By the time we produced three episodes that contained seven stories, but we didn’t know anything about that. It was so hard to
produced the first season that we were like, oh, wow, fantastic. We produced three long episodes
with all their stories, and we had at the end, we were very proud to have 7,000 downloads. That’s orange, by the way. We cut the colors, so look very quick. Yellow, 2013. We grew, we knew more, we knew better, so we were able to produce 10 episodes. Those episodes were
between 15 and 17 minutes, we were still learning. We were very proud of the
70,000 downloads that we had. Then in 2014, so between 2013 and 2014 we started doing a lot of partnerships,
later on I will describe, and then we saw a jump to
700, that’s green actually, 2014, and we jumped to 700,000 downloads, 10 times, we grew 10 times, and we did that with 15 episodes. In 2015 we duplicated
that, to 1.5 million, an we were producing still 15 episodes. 2016, brown. We closed, we signed a
distribution deal with NPR. And the idea of closing that
deal was just to make sure, we see it as a win-win, they are trying to
diversify their audience, we were in business for a long time, and it was like a love story with NPR. We loved each other, had to of course negotiate a bid, but it was kind of, what we have with NPR is an exclusive distribution deal, a contract that give us
full literary independence. But it’s a platform that has, they offer cutting-edge technology and also is the most powerful
company for audio out there, and for us it was really flattering that a company like NPR came to validate, give this seal of quality
to our journalism. So with that, the first season
of Radio Ambulante at NPR, we produced 24 episodes, we had more money that NPR, they had brought,
foundation support, from Ford and MacArthur Foundation, and we had also had been
seeing more listeners. 2017. We just closed 2017 in June. We saw that our numbers are
reaching four million downloads, and now we projected
that with the 36 episodes that we’re gonna produce now, we’re gonna reach at least
five million, this is the goal. We are basing this on our
growth from last year. We grew 89% in downloads and listenership. We are still are on 400,000
downloads per month, which I’m gonna compare
it to other podcasts, but it’s still very incredible, I mean imagine how many
stadiums that does, like how many people are listening, I’m comparing it just to stadiums and I feel wow, so many people
listening to my stories. So for example the biggest podcasts like This American Life has one million downloads per episode, but we have more niche Latinos, so my goal is that one, I don’t know when it will happen. I’m gonna just show
you, or tell you a bit, I don’t need to show you anymore, that was the key of the ideas, but I wanna talk about our business model. So what we did at the beginning was we invested some personal
money, seed capital, Daniel invested that, and then we raised some
money on Kickstarter. We have always paid everyone
working at Radio Ambulante, except Daniel. He started receiving a stipend
two years ago with NPR, but always respecting, we wanted to be respected in the industry, and we wanted to also feel
that they respect our work, so we were always paying, because it’s a lot of
work for the producers and for print journalists. So now our business model
is kind of a mix and mix of this distribution deal with NPR, which is a sponsorship deal. Basically they find sponsors
for Radio Ambulante, and we split the revenue, and we have foundation support as well. We have other sources of revenue. Pretty much we have live
shows, we have workshops. We don’t do as much teaching,
but we are sometimes doing teaching in Latin
America, consulting, we have subscriptions, subscribers, anyone can become a
subscriber, by the way, monthly, $2, $1. We receive donations,
sometimes we just receive, like people who send us checks, which is great. We are a non-profit organization, so that also helps, having
that status, tax-exempt status. We have an online store, so
we do a lot of little things. But the most revenue, and for example the online
store brings $6000 per year, it’s just little revenue, but you just have to take from everywhere, because it’s very very crafty. But this year we are working
on a very exciting project, that is a membership
program, we’re are trying to, because we have a bigger team, we want to make sure that people, that we can get a closer
connection with the community. We expect to bring some
revenue from there, that, but basically what we want to make sure is that our membership
program, with rewards or with certain benefits for the member, will help us actually realize if we’re accomplishing our mission or not, if we are really serving
our audience or not, and I think when people just
donate, it shows appreciation. There are many people who
can donate, of course, but I mean loyal people and followers, they really, when you see
that they do this for you, it’s a good sign, and I
think this is important also, to create a space. And we are also designing an app, finally the Radio Ambulante app. I’m gonna talk about
this in a second as well. Okay so, just to give you an
idea of our audience split. You will say, yeah, a
Spanish-language podcast, completely in Spanish, long-form,
requires concentration, somebody says that we should
never use the word documentary, because it sounds boring,
but it’s like documentary, and this is not boring by the way. So 70% of our audience
live in the United States. And 28% in Latin America, and then there is another percentage that is from, we’re listened from
more than 100 countries. But we have discovered also,
we have a close connection with the audience, and
we have surveyed a lot, and we know that one-third of the audience in the United States are non-Latinos, or they identify
themselves as non-Latinos, non-native Spanish speakers. So we have done a lot of
research for the last four years with this segment, and I know many of you
are on that segment, because that is basically
Spanish-learners. So what we wanted to do is like, yeah, we have this story for Latinos, right? In Spanish. It can be heard by Spanish listeners. So we have always tried to
break that language barrier by partnering with other organizations. And 81% are under the age of 45. So we have partnerships
that Tanya mentioned at the beginning. We have partnered with RadioLab, with the New York Times Magazine, California Sunday Magazine,
This American Life, other podcasts. And the way we do it is
that sometimes we have, like for example, for
print, just to make sure that when we miss audios, it’s easy, you just go there and
they record the interview, we bring the audio,
somebody like a producer can talk in English, and be on the radio with other podcasts, but for print, print is the best way to really break that language barrier for us at the moment, because what we do is we
bring all our stories, our translated,
transcripted and translated, so we just partner with this media outlet and we create print versions of the story, so for example that story
that was about assisted death, we had a version in the
New York Times Magazine, and that was amazing, because we had an engagement
that we never saw before, like 4,000 comments to the story, but they didn’t came from Latinos. They came from people who are readers of the New York Times Magazine, and it was just a reaction
to talk about an issue, like talking about assisted death, which is a very controversial subject. Another possibility, for example, this partnership was with RadioLab. We have a story, it’s called Los Sobrevivientes, it’s a very recommended, compelling story about self-infected HIV patients in Cuba. Rockstars. They were not patients,
they became patients later. So with RadioLab, we produced
these stories together for one year. And what we did is that our producer produced a version in
Spanish for Radio Ambulante, and a version with RadioLab in English. Two different stories, but connected. And we launched the same day. We put their story in English in our feed and our story on their radio in Spanish, we experimented a lot, but that’s a great partnership, actually, because it was, actually
is one of the most-listened episodes of the RadioLab as well. And now of course with
NPR we also partnered with other shows like Planet Money and NPR All Things Considered. We get space, we were featured
recently in Code Switch and on other podcasts. One thing that we’re doing is opening, somehow we have seen that
our content was there, but we were not really knowing if the audience was enjoying it, and we felt incomplete. So we hired an engagement
editor last year, Jorge Caballo, who is wonderful, and he found the voice of Radio Ambulante. It’s sometimes too annoying, because he comes to help us
interact with the audience, but he is really the
advocate of the audience, so everything that people request, he come to me and I’m like no, tell them they’re sad stories,
because those experiences, because people complain
that sometimes our stories are too hard, and it’s true, or too sad, and it’s true. But we have also happy stories, but he comes and he really gives the fight for the audience and he’s
like, they want this, they want this subject. So we have been trying
to really communicate with our audience better. So the way we do it is that every Tuesday there is a new story of Radio Ambulante. If somebody listens to podcasts, you can find it everywhere on your phone. We release the story on both our website, radioambulante.org and NPR websites. We send a newsletter to people to let them know there is a story, and we start doing these efforts of cross-promotion with NPR, and we start doing more social media. We also create a group of Whatsapp. No, we don’t have a group
of Whatsapp, I’m sorry. It’s different. We are reaching people out, via Whatsapp, so basically if you’re on
Whatsapp you can subscribe, and you receive a message just for you, saying we have a new
episode of Radio Ambulante. We launched this initiative in December, and we are communicating
with this segment very well, one by one, so it’s not, at some point it was just getting crazy, like oh we have to talk, and don’t talk, send into a group because we have groups, but the beauty of
Whatsapp, in case somebody wants to test something or engage people, you have to find the right tone to do it, not abusing the Whatsapp, because if any of you are on Whatsapp you know that if you
receive too many messages it’s kind of annoying, but this comes just with the message, and sometimes we ask people, for example there is a story
call Terremoto, from Mexico, that we recorded a year ago that has many voices from Mexico, and we ask our listeners,
can you please record where were you when the
earthquake happened in Mexico, and people just sent voice
messages via Whatsapp, and we took those voices and incorporated them into our production, and it’s a very very
beautiful episode, actually. So that’s an example
of the use of Whatsapp. These people are the most loyal people, you send it, oh can you fill this survey? They do it like this. So it’s a good connection
that we have on Whatsapp. Every connection that you
create with the listener, everywhere, requires a product, so this is for Whatsapp. We have created also something
called Club de Podcast, Radio Ambulante. It’s a group, like a
book club on Facebook. We tried to create something
where the listeners were. At the time Facebook was really
suffering of the reputation, we knew that our listeners
are still on Facebook, and so we created this group
and people request to join, and there we have super
interesting conversations about stories and different issues, so what we have been seeing there is that we ask a question and
people just react and comment, and they all became connected among them, and it’s beautiful to see
this conversation happening with people from all over the continent. We have a policy of no harassment, no one can criticize any accents, so people who have broken Spanish, that’s fine, the conversation is in Spanish,
but we accept everyone, and it’s really really beautiful
to see what’s happening, and it’s fun, super fun. We have Facebook live with
producers of the story, mostly every Friday. We also have playlists. So Jorge, he loves music,
so he create playlists per subject, per country,
per whatever he thinks, and it’s super fun, very
recommended playlists. And then, we had this
very boring newsletter, we used to send them Tuesday, we still send that boring
newsletter on Tuesday to let people know that
there is a new episode, but we decided to give more
value to the newsletter, so on weekends we are sending one that is the recommendations of
the team, so people, basically our team, everybody,
like five, six people, recommend something that they’re reading, that they’re interested on,
that they saw, whatever, and when you subscribe you
receive different things, and I love learning about new things, so this has become very successful. We featured one of the
listeners of the week, we talk about the scenario
from the country of origin of where the stories come from. So these have been great. And what we do, finally,
I’m gonna close soon. We have been doing efforts, okay, it’s okay, I’m gonna just say it. So we have been doing a lot of efforts to give resources to Spanish-learners but also to heritage students. There are many Latinos, some
of my colleagues as well, they are very intimidated
by their Spanish. They speak only at home, but
maybe they never wrote it, maybe you’ve heard of some of this, or maybe you can relate to this, but so you just learned the language, but maybe when you need
to, you want to improve it, or you want to really access it, and I think Radio
Ambulante, what it brings, has created this connections between Latinos and Latin America, not only to their country of origins, but it’s just kind of like
this visceral connection with the language as well. So because we have a very small team and limited resources, we usually launch an episode
and we have transcription of the script in Spanish, and a translation of
the script in English. But the experience on our
website is not super fun, because you have to go
and listen to the audio, but then you have to just
scroll down 30 pages of a script in English and Spanish, so we are now working,
we are now partnering with a technology company, and we are developing an app, and this app will, basically, now it’s called Trainer,
but we’re gonna try to find a nicer name, if you have any, please send it to me, any recommendations. So we basically will have
our episodes available for people to be able to train their ear to understand different accents. We have identified on our
content, 50 different accents, so it’s not one per country,
it’s many per country. We still have to identify more, but the idea is that people who want to understand Radio Ambulante
will be training their ear while trying to guess some
and reading some Spanish. I have a prototype if
somebody wants to see, but basically it’s not just
subtitled as we saw before. At the beginning I was thinking
subtitled, slides, audio, but this is different, this
is kind of like help you to train your ear, select
vocabulary, slow it down a bit, pass chapters, we have
some cues, some work, and see your progress on the Spanish, trying to emulate a bit like the Fitbit, but on your work, because every
story takes a little time. So we’re gonna launch this very soon, and we hope that also, it won’t be free, we hope not to make it very expensive, we hope that this in another way in which we can really serve better our audience, one audience that is important for us, and also bring extra
revenue to Radio Ambulante that we need, because we
want to continue innovating, and creating more, maybe
shows, more episodes, and that requires a lot of growing. So this is what we’re gonna do. Other way to engage our
community is through live shows. We have two coming, one
in D.C., on in New York in a couple of weeks. D.C. unfortunately sold out,
New York is close to sold out, if it’s not sold out now, because it was almost ready to close, and we do this bilingual accessibility, we subtitle everything, so people can bring their special ones, if they are not Spanish fluent. So hopefully you can make
it at some point to one. Also we have a final project
that is for journalists in Latin America, we’re launching this, that is called escuela Radio Ambulante. We launched the website that
tried to give more resources in Spanish to learn how to produce long-form audio journalism, and now I’m adding this part of how to do a business side of it, because that’s the part
that you never learn, you just learn six years on the hard road. And finally, just to close, so before I hired Jorge
Caballo, our engagement editor, I always felt, I always
described Radio Ambulante as our audience. We have three audiences, so
one was in the United States, and then there was the other
audience in Latin America, and then we knew that we had
all these Spanish speakers, but at the end, I think
with all these efforts of including everyone, including Spanish, non-Spanish speakers, we are really one
linguistic, cultural region, and this is what I feel is the way to think about
bilingualism, or multilingualism, but in this case for us
it’s just two languages, it’s just thinking that we can
really break those borders, and create this regional dialogue, so thank you very much, that was my presentation. (audience claps) I’m gonna upload this. I couldn’t wait to upload that. Thank you so much for the patience, apologies for the technical issue. – Yeah, thank you, and I think that we were able to follow. So, the floor is open for questions. Yes. – So I understand you
really developed this, and it’s really incredible, thank you for doing this
work over the past six years. At what point into this
process did you start to feel like you’d developed
your personal process for putting together a story? – So the question is, you’re talking about my
experience in Radio Ambulante? – Yeah, so you learned how it
worked, how to put together a radio show, how to put
together a podcast as well, but for you personally, at
what point did you feel like you had gotten into a regular
rhythm with putting together a story the way that you wanted to? – If you ask me, I will say two years ago, if you ask my team, they are burnt out. We launched the first episode last week, and they are burnt out. We have 10 ready, but thing with this, I think we are on a very work flow now, we will be able to produce 36 episodes, and we include some from our archives, so I think we are gonna
reach 42 episodes in a year, it’s almost a year. That will help us to complete a catalog of 150 episodes, or
more, like 60 episodes, which is a great archive for the listener. But we want to innovate, so every time we want to do this we want to change the format or we want to pursue another story, or we want to do something
different, you know? More ambitious. So we’re producing a
series about Venezuelans, and there is a lot of
racism in Latin America and we are very concerned about it, so we’re producing four
stories this season about that, in different countries, transnational. So it’s a never-stopping,
we are always feeling, like when I get a grant I celebrate, wow, but I spend it right away. Daniel is like, oh my god, the budget, but I hire people, we have translators, when I hired my fact-checker,
two months later I have four fact-checkers, you know? But I think we know, we have
a work flow that works now, and by now my senior editor
doesn’t want to move anything, she’s very strict about it. Yes. – How do you deal with stories
that are too controversial, or can get too political, too religious, to try to keep the story unbiased to that it sounds like
you are trying to cover both points of view or just one? I don’t know, do you have any
topics that are prohibited? – We believe in civil liberties, so we’re liberal, I guess. We want to bring stories
that nobody produces, we want those stories that
are not covered by media, and many of those are trying to do, we believe in woman’s
rights, reproductive rights, LGBTQ community, we want to, other than racism in Latin America, so there are many many
stories that are not told, that we want to cover. We always try, because
it’s a journalism project, we always try to find the
other side of the story. And we sometimes want to make
sure that we use the right, if it’s very controversial
we usually have a lawyer, to review, if it’s a
policy or a legal story, we need to, we have
lawyers vetting the script, and if it’s something
that we want to make sure, like an indigenous story, or LGBTQ, we find an expert on them from the country and on the matter to review the script and make sure that we’re
using the right language. That’s very important for us, not having this, outsider’s look, and I’m
gonna tell you the story, because I didn’t live the story, so that’s very important for us. One thing that I know we don’t do, because it’s happened before, is that the hosts don’t
like to tell stories about abuser, you know,
I mean our protagonists, the protagonists of the stories are not, we don’t give megaphones to bad people. I don’t know how to say it differently. To tyrants, but we want them on radio, if the story’s about the other side. You, you had a question? – So I’ve never listened
to your radio show, but I’m very very interested now, especially as a Latina, I
love anything that involves activism and standing up
for what I believe is right, so where do you suggest I start listening, as a first time listener? – What’s your interest, what’s your activism about? – Everything you say, I agree
with everything you say. – In our website, there is, can I? No. Okay, so if you go to radioambulante.org, this website will change,
we’re redesigning the website, finally it’s gonna look better, but now for the next four or six months, if you go to Radio Ambulante website there is a Spanish and English version, but the audio is only in Spanish, but you can read everything
around it in English. So in Spanish you go
and you find “filtrar” on the left menu is says “filtrar” and you can find stories there by, you can find stories there by, hold on, by subject, by country, or by length, and I don’t have by
mood, but I will actually incorporate that so people can alternate between one and the other one. Free Press, Crudo,
Ecuador is a great story. That’s from Ecuador, of course, and includes the
president, so that’s good. We have many, like five
stories or six LGBT from Puerto Rico and Costa Rica. Costa Rica is a fantastic
story, it’s more recent, I’m thinking about, we have mental health, we have reproductive rights, yeah, fight against racism, so I
think it’s better to start on the menu and in English, on the
English-language site of the website, I think it’s
called Discovery, I think, but if you go to “filtrar”
and go and find English, it will just take you there. Okay. You. – Would you consider
television in the future as a media outlet? – Yes. Not for our stories. My team, they want to do this forever. This is the format and this is the place, Radio Ambulante will be
Radio Ambulante podcast. What we’re thinking is,
we’re in conversations to maybe produce series
out of our content, or things like that, but more fictionalized, it’s another revenue
stream that maybe we can do in the future, but it’s so distracting, and it’s so hard to put together, but just that way, we are not
considering other formats, that seems like another business. Yes. – Have you done stories focusing on the family separation issue right now? – Yeah, we did one. We interviewed a reporter. The first story that came, we did audio, so those recordings of the children at the shelters, at
the detention shelters, at the detention centers, that was reported by Ginger Thompson, from ProPublica, she is fluent in Spanish. She is a great reporter and
also a colleague and a friend. So that was very, we
usually take a lot of time, but with that one we put together a story, we actually closed our
season and that was happening so we had the access to do
it and work with someone, so we put together an episode
to try to explain that, mostly to Latin America, because the Latin Americans
only hear about this from the CNN perspective and we want to make sure
that we can also put there. And we are pursuing another
stories regarding that, we are following a couple stories. One of the co-founders of Radio Ambulante works at The New York Times. Her name is Annie Correal, she has been covering this lately
for The New York Times, all the stories, and she was at the Daily, the other podcast, New York Times podcast, so we’re gonna probably
put together something because she has a lot of
recordings in Spanish, so we’re gonna do
something with her as well. It’s definitely something
that we want to follow. Yes. – I just really appreciate your interest in the humanities, you know,
covering peoples’ stories and to tell the stories like they are, and your entrepreneurial spirit, and I know that’s something
that we are trying to very much promote on our campus, with any given field or discipline, that there are ways to
think entrepreneurially about these things and
to maybe produce product or services that could be
useful to many people out there, and I think you project is just
a prime example of all that, and so for the students
here and other people who might be interested in, you know, I wanna maybe turn my idea
into something like this, what kind of advice do
you have for people? ‘Cause I know it wasn’t
always easy for you, you faced failure. – It’s hard everyday. I wanna tell you a secret,
everybody knows this secret. For entrepreneurs, being an entrepreneur is a very isolating thing, and I have a team of 14, they all need me, I have my voice and production, mostly production,
reporters and journalists, but it’s hard because for me it’s like, I have a little team, two
people more on my team, but it’s really like I have
to make sure that this works and I was telling somebody earlier that I feel that when they say
oh, what do you do as a CEO and I was like, yeah ride
in to my bike every morning and if I stop pedaling,
the town loses electricity. This is the funnier way,
because every morning I come to work super motivated, I have a lot of drive
and energy and motivation and many ideas, so I come
to work full of ideas, and I feel that I get
into this lake of mud, and that I need to cross
to the other corner and when I’m in the middle, I’m giving up, and then in the evening
I feel like a failure, because I couldn’t complete
all the great things that I was supposed to do, and that happens to entrepreneurs. I think my advice is this. Because I work a lot around culture, so my dilemma, which I always
know what is the right thing to do based on my take on this, is should we use all these resources to grow and expand and report more, or should I just invest also on a team? And I choose to invest on my team, because they work very
hard, and I just try to work on culture, on the
culture of the organization, and the way I do it, my advice to everyone who wants to, because when you start a
project, it’s a little thing, it was just a project of a couple, and suddenly it was bigger than us, and there have been tears
and panic and also no money. We took vacation after
four years, this summer. It’s hard, sacrifice, a lot of sacrifice, but my advice is you
start with a little thing, and maybe that thing is
little for a long time, and that’s better, you
don’t need to blow capacity, but my advice is that you
just write down your values and your personal mission and make sure that you
are pursuing your mission. So for example my personal mission is to make sure that I help journalism. For me, I believe in
having good journalism, this is my personal thing. I don’t share this with my team, I just work, everything that I do in life is thinking about helping
whatever I can on journalism, so I train people, coach
people, share what I learn. When we were starting, people
didn’t share what they knew. It took us two years of punches, learning. So I think writing the values and trying to translate
that to the project, whatever you’re doing is a good start, because that will keep you anchored, and everything that you grow
or if you keep it small, will reflect what you believe in, and it will be a good way
to mitigate the stress. The other thing that I
feel is just learning and connecting with other entrepreneurs and learning from mistakes from others, like trying to go to business things, business the whole way, try to learn, be exposed to other
people starting things, even if they’re out of your industry. – Alright, with that I
wanna thank you again for such a wonderful presentation. – Thank you.
(audience claps)

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