GBH’s Salud, a show and podcast focused on health issues important to the Latino and Hispanic communities, debuted Oct. 22 with an episode about living longer. Future episodes of the Spanish-language show will cover topics like health disinformation, long COVID and dementia. The show will air on GBH 89.7 FM Saturdays at 9:30 a.m., and is available on all podcast platforms. Host Tibisay Zea, a reporter with The World, joined Morning Edition co-host Jeremy Siegel to talk about the show. This transcript has been lightly edited.
Jeremy Siegel: Salud is a Spanish language show. It’s a partnership between El Planeta, the largest Spanish-language newspaper in Massachusetts, the Harvard Medical School and GBH. And this is, as I mentioned, not exactly what you’d expect to hear on a public radio station. Take me back to the beginnings of the ideas for Salud. How did this idea for the show come together?
Tibisay Zea: This idea actually came up during the pandemic. I was working for El Planeta as a full-time reporter, and we noticed that misinformation in Spanish was a serious problem. It always has been, but it sort of became more visible during the pandemic because there was an immediate need for reliable sources of information in Spanish, especially about health care. For example, we found members of our Hispanic community in places like Chelsea, Lawrence, where the pandemic hit very hard, getting wrong information about vaccines or COVID on Facebook or WhatsApp groups. And I also reported on a story about misinformation coming from a few evangelical churches here in Boston. And, you know, there aren’t as many Spanish-speaking journalists or media outlets in the U.S. So oftentimes they have limited resources. And, of course, social media companies invest fewer resources to fight Spanish-language misinformation. So we are extremely excited about this show because we know this is something our community needs.
Siegel: So now Salud is a reality. The first episode of it aired over the weekend on GBH. It’s also available as a podcast coming out every week. What can people expect from this show?
Zea: Salud is a Spanish podcast about some of the most common health issues affecting Latinos in the U.S. Each episode features stories of Latinos and how their lives are impacted by the condition at hand, as well as health care leaders covering questions like prevention, treatment and the big picture view of how these conditions affect this population here. Our first episode is about human longevity. It’s a fascinating topic. And we spoke with an immigrant from Guatemala who is celebrating her birthday — number 102. And also, we spoke with a Cuban singer who at 95 has been nominated for the Latin Grammy as a best new artist. And then we also, of course, interview people like Dr. Thomas Perls, who is the author of one of the most extensive research about centenarians in the U.S. and in the world.
Siegel: I don’t want to give away the episode, but what do people learn about life expectancy and particularly within the Latino community?
Zea: Well, there is something called the Hispanic paradox, which is very interesting, because despite of all the socioeconomic disadvantages that the Latino populations have here in the U.S., Latina women are the group with the with the longest life expectancy in the U.S. So we explore why. And much of that has to do with our culture.
Siegel: Interesting. So what do you plan to cover in Salud in the weeks ahead?
Zea: So we’ll have one episode about Alzheimer’s disease. And we have interviewed the son of the 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.
Siegel: Tibisay, working on this podcast, coming up with the idea for it, seeing it through to fruition now — what do you think you’ve learned in this 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 with 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, they come to this country to work. Many end up working two, three jobs. They work at odd hours. They do difficult jobs that nobody else wants to do. And that has a huge toll on our health. And on top of that, sometimes it’s difficult to find reliable information in Spanish about health care, as I said before. So when they learn about diabetes, about cardiovascular diseases, sometimes it’s too late. So our goal here is to help them understand how to take care of themselves and also to connect them with the latest research on medicine and biotechnology. With this podcast, we think we are serving more than 40 million people who speak Spanish in this country. And I think it’s very important work that we need to do.
Morning Edition co-hosts Paris Alston and Jeremy Siegel bring a whole new vibe to mornings. Sign up for their newsletter, "The Wake Up," landing in your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning.
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Jeremy Siegel is co-host of Morning Edition at GBH News.
Tibisay Zea is a reporter with The World based in Boston and host of the podcast Salud.
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