A new podcast, “Salud,” addresses the health of Latino communities

GBH Hello, a show and podcast focused on health issues important to the Latino and Hispanic communities, debuts Oct. 22 with an episode on Living Longer. Future episodes of the Spanish-language show will cover topics such as health misinformation, prolonged COVID and dementia. The show will be broadcast on GBH 89.7 FM on Saturdays from 9.30am and is available on all podcast platforms. Presenter Tibisai Zea, reporter with The worldjoined Morning edition co-host Jeremy Siegel to talk about the show. This transcript has been slightly edited.

Jeremy Siegel: Hello is a Spanish language show. It is a partnership between El Planeta, the largest Spanish-language newspaper in Massachusetts, Harvard Medical School and GBH. And this, as I mentioned, is not exactly what you would expect to hear on a public radio station. Take me back to the beginning of the ideas for Hello. How did this idea for the show come about?

Tibisai Zea: This idea actually came about during the pandemic. I was working for El Planeta as a full-time reporter and we noticed that disinformation in Spanish was a serious problem. It’s always been that way, but somehow it became more visible during the pandemic because there was an immediate need for reliable sources of information in Spanish, especially about health. For example, we found members of our Hispanic community in places like Chelsea, Lawrence, where the pandemic hit very hard, getting misinformation about vaccines or COVID on Facebook or WhatsApp groups. I also reported a story of misinformation coming from several evangelical churches here in Boston. And, you know, there aren’t that many Spanish-speaking journalists or media outlets in the U.S., so they often have limited resources. And, of course, social media companies are investing fewer resources to fight misinformation in the Spanish language. So we’re extremely excited about this show because we know it’s something that our community needs.

Seagull: So now Hello is a reality. The first episode of it aired over the weekend on GBH. Also available as a weekly podcast. What can people expect from this show?

Zea: Hello is a Spanish podcast about some of the most common health issues affecting Latinos in the US. Each episode features stories of Latinos and how their lives have been affected by the condition, as well as health leaders covering issues such as prevention, treatment and a big-picture view of how these conditions affect this population here. Our first episode is about human longevity. This is a fascinating topic. We spoke to a Guatemalan immigrant celebrating her 102nd birthday. And we also spoke to a Cuban singer who, at 95, was nominated for a Latin Grammy for Best New Artist. And then we also, of course, interview people like Dr. Thomas Perls, who authored one of the most extensive studies of centenarians in the US and in the world.

Seagull: I don’t want to give the episode away, but what are people learning about life expectancy and especially in the Hispanic community?

Zea: Well, there’s something called the Latino Paradox, which is very interesting, because despite all the socioeconomic disadvantages that Latino populations have here in the U.S., Latino women are the group with the longest life expectancy in the U.S., so we’re investigating why. And a lot of that has to do with our culture.

Seagull: interesting So what do you plan to cover Hello in the coming weeks?

Zea: So we’re going to have an Alzheimer’s episode. We also interviewed the son of Nobel Prize winner Gabriel García Márquez, who is a Colombian writer. He had Alzheimer’s and we have his son telling us how he had to deal with this disease. But we also have episodes about diabetes, about mental health, about long COVID, about infertility. So stay tuned for more.

“We serve more than 40 million people who speak Spanish in this country. And I think that’s a very important job that we need to do.”

-Tibisay Zea, host of Health

Seagull: Tibisay, you’ve been working on this podcast, coming up with the idea for it, making it happen now — what do you think you’ve learned in that process about what communities need and what role public radio can and should play in filling that need?

Zea: I think we have a huge responsibility to the minorities in this country to serve them, to help them, because they do a lot for us as a society. We found that misinformation in Spanish is a huge problem. And you know, immigrants come to this country to work. Many end up working two, three jobs. They work at odd hours. They do the hard work that no one else wants to do. And this has a huge impact on our health. And on top of that, sometimes it’s hard to find reliable information in Spanish about health care, as I said before. So when they learn about diabetes, about cardiovascular disease, sometimes it’s too late. So our goal here is to help them understand how to take care of themselves and also connect them with the latest research in medicine and biotechnology. With this podcast, we think we serve more than 40 million people who speak Spanish in this country. And I think that’s a very important job that we need to do.

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