Radio Ambulante steers Spanish-language pubradio in new direction

Radio Ambulante, an ambitious monthly radio show and podcast which hopes to revolutionize Spanish-language radio, launched its pilot episode today.

Radio Ambulante (which roughly translates to “radio on the move”) is the brainchild of acclaimed Peruvian-American writer Daniel Alarcón, whose novel Lost City Radio, was named Best Novel of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle and the Washington Post, also claiming the 2009 International Literature Prize.

Also on the Radio Ambulante team are Martina Castro (managing editor of KALW News), Mandalit del Barco (general assignment correspondent at NPR West), entrepreneur Carolina Guererro, and journalist Annie Correal, whose work has aired on NPR, WNYC and This American Life.

The show is based out of KALW-FM in San Francisco, and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting serves as the program’s 501(c)3 fiscal sponsor.

The pilot episode, “Moving: Migration, Exile, and Travel,” weaves together four stories centered around “moving,” a thematic structure similar to that of This American Life. Unlike TAL, however, the stories are aimed at a Spanish-speaking audience, produced by a Spanish-speaking reporting team, and are told entirely in Spanish. Stories in the pilot come from Peru, Spain, Mexico, Honduras and the United States.

As the “Feet In Two Worlds” podcast described it, “Instead of the pop-songs, evangelists and sports that dominate the airwaves en español, Radio Ambulante…will tell sound rich first-person stories from Latin America and Hispanic communities in the US. Think This American Life, in Spanish.”

In this video, Alarcón and the reporting team describe the genesis of Radio Ambulante, their rationale for having the program entirely in Spanish, and what they hope to accomplish.

For now, the pilot is only available on the Radio Ambulante website, but will soon be available on iTunes. The website says that the program is currently “…creating partnerships with radio stations in Latin America and the U.S. in order to reach the broadest possible Spanish-speaking audience.”

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