‘Las Raras’ and the Google Podcasts creator program

The Chilean podcast was one of six productions chosen, out of thousands from all over the world, to participate in the Google Podcasts creator program. The producers of ‘Las Raras’ attended a training at the PRX Podcast Garage in Boston. Here they share their experience with us.

By Catalina May and Martín Cruz of ‘Las Raras.’

We heard about the first edition of the Google Podcasts creator program on social media just two weeks before the application deadline.

When we checked out the details of the program, we immediately thought it was made for us (ha!): It sought to improve the diversity of voices in a podcasting world dominated by American white men.

So, what could be better than a Latino podcast hosted by a woman, produced independently in a country (Chile) where the media is controlled by elites, that tells stories about people whose life choices break cultural norms and challenge the status quo?

We worked carefully to present an application with a robust narrative that would successfully communicate to the experts at PRX (the podcast distributor in charge of managing the program financed by Google) all the hard work, care and talent we’ve invested in telling stories that we believe many people need to keep hearing. We had a lot of fun putting together the two-minute trailer they asked us to include with the application (which you can listen to on our Twitter feed).

We sent the application a couple of days before the deadline (we’ve learned never to wait until the last minute because websites tend to crash under the high demand of last-minute submissions). While we kept the faith, we kept telling ourselves that we had to be realistic: Surely many more podcasters from all over the world would be submitting applications. It wasn’t very likely that they would choose us.

A couple of days before Christmas vacation, we heard the news that we had been selected to be one of six teams that would participate in the program. It was a proud moment — we couldn’t have been happier! But there wasn’t much time to prepare — we had to be in Boston on January 27 to start a week of intensive training at the PRX Podcast Garage, an incredible place with a recording studio, equipment, and workspace.

As soon as we arrived, it felt like the coziest and most inspiring place in the world — always full of talented people and LOTS of delicious food. Right away, we met the amazing people in charge of the program: Kerry Donahue, Mark Pagán, Lindsay Abrams, Stephanie Kuo and Shaneez Tyndall — an all-star team. Then, we met the other podcast teams, each one somehow even more interesting than the last: AfroQueer, Long Distance, Who Taught You How To Drive, The Colored Girl Beautiful, and Timestorm.

Together they made up a diverse and collaborative group that we could talk to about podcasting for 12 hours a day — during the training or at the bowling alley or drinking at a restaurant near the garage. It was paradise! Especially for us, coming from a country where many people still don’t even know what a podcast is.

The team in charge of the program made us feel special from the start. One of the first things they told us was that they received more than 6,000 applications from 100 countries.

“You are part of the 0.09 percent that we chose,” they emphasized.

Wow! It was an honor, but also a great responsibility.

For the first two days, while it was 2 degrees outside, we applied design thinking to getting to know our listeners, experimenting with different prototypes, taking advantage of feedback, and thinking about business models.

From the third day onward, we heard from super interesting speakers such as Zack Reneau-Wedeen, one of the creators of the Google Podcasts app and Jenna Weiss-Berman from Pineapple Street Media, who even showed us a podcast budget she was about to present to a really important company (ultra-privileged information about which we can’t say anything else — but oh my god!). We were also joined by Paula Scarpin from the podcasts of the Brazilian magazine Piaui and Ramsey Tesdell of the Jordanian podcast network Sowt, both of whom participated in the entire training with us and told us about their experiences.

On the final day it was time to present our projects in front of a panel of experts including Jake Shapiro of Radio Public, Jenna Weiss-Berman, Noam Hassenfeld of Today, Explained from Vox, and Donna Hardwick of PRX. The audience included more people from PRX, Radio Public, and even some people who live in the neighborhood. We had seven minutes to present, two minutes to play our audio and then nine minutes for feedback and opinions, with no time to answer questions. Everything timed by a stopwatch.

The language barrier made us a little nervous. We’re the only team whose native language is not English. To make things easier, we converted our trailer into an audiogram and added subtitles to it. Then we simply dove right in, speaking in slightly choppy English. We finished just in time, and luckily, the response was fantastic (just like it was for all the teams!). They gave high praise to our sound design, congratulated us for the progress we’ve made, and urged us to focus on releasing regular episodes and growing our audience. We’ll be working on that and much more over the next 20 weeks.

Our goal is to become a sustainable podcast. There’s a lot to do. The good news is now we have a really important support network and new friends to lean on in the process.

This text was translated and edited from it’s original publication in Spanish in the Podcaster@s bi-weekly newsletter, where we share the top news and diverse perspectives from fans and producers of podcasts in Spanish. Sign up for it here.

Catalina May. A Chilean journalist. She worked in written media for decades before starting Las Raras, a podcast she directs and hosts. Currently, she is working at Adonde Media and she is the main editor for the Duolingo Spanish Podcast. @cata_may // lasraraspodcast.com

Martín Cruz. Sound engineer, musician, and aerial cinematograph from Santiago, Chile. Co-founder and sound designer for Las Raras Podcast. He has worked as sound designer for videogames, documentaries, and television. He works at Adonde Media in podcasts such as El Chapo: El Jefe y su Juicio y Duolingo Spanish Podcast.