Great story about Daniel Alarcón. The 35 year-old Peruvian-born novelist based in Oakland, California has a new project: “Radio Ambulante,” a Spanish-language podcast offering human interest stories from around Latin America and the United States. The article highlights the importance of radio in areas without high-speed Internet access, as well as the difficulties of representation for the Latino community for whom the radio is a popular communications medium:
“Political boundaries are real, but cultural boundaries are a lot more fluid,” Alarcón told the audience, before adding that with an estimated 55 million Latinos living in the United States, “the U.S. is also a Latin American country.”
In an American landcape in which, at best, Latinos are often described as a homogenous block of people with the mysterious power to sway political elections, Radio Ambulante offers something entirely different. It’s a show made by and for a diverse Spanish-speaking audience, one in which the varying experiences of millions of people are taken as obvious, not an epiphany.
Alarcón got the idea for the show after the BBC sent him on assignment to do his first radio story in Perú back in 2008. In recounting the experience at Mother Jones, he remembered it as “beautiful,” a welcome change of pace to the months he’d spent touring for his award winning novel “Lost City Radio.”
“We did interviews in English and in Spanish, and a lot of the Spanish tape wasn’t used in the end,” Alarcón told Mother Jones. “I had the sense of, ‘Well, wait. What about those other voices?’ I think that’s when I first had the idea of creating a space for this kind of narrative nonfiction radio in Spanish, so we wouldn’t lose these voices.”