Over 130,000 people across the world tune in for a weekly podcast produced and hosted by Associate Dean for the Webster University School of Communications Rick Rockwell.
Rockwell’s podcast, Latin Pulse, is a program focusing on political, cultural and religious events in Latin American countries. The program is presented in English with large listener bases in Brazil and Argentina.
“The idea was to start a program that students could listen to. I wanted to use it for classes I was doing about media systems in Latin America,” Rockwell said. “Students sometimes have trouble doing the readings. So if you could give them something more like a radio show, could they listen and do something else while they were doing it? That was the beginning of the idea.”
Every Wednesday, Rockwell and his graduate assistant Natalie Ottinger research topics for the podcast. Ottinger said that with so many scandals in Latin American countries, there is a wide variety of topics to choose from.
“A lot of times people will hear Latino, Hispanic, all these different words to describe what people think is this homogenous group of people,” Ottinger said. “The reality is they are very diverse, they have different economies, political systems, cultures, different ethical issues going on. He [Rockwell] just kind of delves right into it and addresses it.”
The 30 minute podcast is recorded Friday morning by Rockwell and Ottinger, who acts as the news anchor. By 3 p.m., the podcast is published on the Latin Pulse page on soundcloud.com. The podcast is also distributed by LinkTV and the iTunes store.
“Latin Pulse” is produced on audio recording equipment from The Galaxy Radio. Jim Singer, the Student Media Coordinator for Webster, assists Rockwell with the editing and production of each broadcast. Singer said he enjoys working on the program for free because the topics are so different from political events in America.
“It’s like telling soap opera stories, they don’t seem real at all,” Singer said. “These governments are oppressing their people and getting kick-back money, and then they’re outraged when someone wants to get them out of there. You don’t see that going on here.”
Latin Pulse began as a non-profit television show at American University in Washington D.C. Rockwell worked as an unpaid consultant for the program until funding was cut to the program. The program was brought back in podcast format in 2011 by Rockwell.
“Our idea was to bring it back as a podcast to try to find money to finance its revival as a TV program, but we never found the money,” Rockwell said. “So the podcast just became its own thing.”
Latin Pulse has always been a non-profit program and does not contain any ads. Rockwell said he has looked into other forms of revenue, but that money would be spent providing a small stipend for those who work on the show as well as the ability to travel for the program.