GBH Health, a show and podcast focusing on health issues important to Latino and Hispanic communities, premiered on October 22 with an episode about living longer. Future episodes of the Spanish-language show will cover topics such as health disinformation, long-standing COVID, and dementia. The show will air on GBH 89.7 FM on Saturdays at 9:30 am and is available on all podcast platforms. Presents Tibisay Zea, journalist with The worldparticipated Morning Edition co-host Jeremy Siegel to talk about the show. This transcript has been slightly modified.
Jeremy Siegel: Health is a show in Spanish. It’s a partnership between El Planeta, Massachusetts’s largest Spanish-language newspaper, Harvard Medical School, and GBH. And this, as I said before, is not exactly what you would expect to hear on a public radio station. Take me back to the beginnings of ideas for Health. How did this idea for the show come about?
Tibisay Zea: This idea actually came about during the pandemic. I worked for El Planeta as a full-time journalist and we noticed that disinformation in Spanish was a serious problem. It always has been, but it became more visible during the pandemic because there was an immediate need for reliable sources of information in Spanish, particularly on healthcare. For example, we have found members of our Hispanic community in places like Chelsea, Lawrence, where the pandemic has hit very hard, getting wrong vaccine or COVID information on Facebook or WhatsApp groups. And I also reported a misinformation story from some evangelical churches here in Boston. And, you know, there aren’t that many Spanish-speaking journalists or news outlets in the United States, so they often have limited resources. And, of course, social media companies invest fewer resources to fight Spanish-language disinformation. So we’re extremely excited about this show because we know it’s something our community needs.
Siegel: So now Health it is a reality. The first episode aired over the weekend on GBH. It is also available as a weekly podcast. What can people expect from this show?
Zea: Health is a Spanish podcast about some of the most common health problems affecting Latin Americans in the United States. Each episode features stories of Latin Americans and how their lives are affected by the condition in question, as well as health leaders covering issues like prevention, treatment, and the big picture view of how these conditions affect this population here. Our first episode is about human longevity. It is a fascinating subject. And we talked to a Guatemalan immigrant celebrating her birthday – number 102. And also, we talked to a Cuban singer who at 95 was nominated for the Latin Grammy for Best New Artist. And then, of course, we also interview people like Dr. Thomas Perls, who is the author of one of the most in-depth research on centenarians in the United States and around the world.
Siegel: I don’t want to reveal the episode, but what do people learn about life expectancy and in particular within the Latin community?
Zea: Well, there is something called the Hispanic paradox, which is very interesting, because despite all the socioeconomic disadvantages that Latin populations have here in the United States, Latin women are the group with the longest life expectancy in the United States. let’s explore why. And a lot of this has to do with our culture.
Siegel: Interesting. So what do you think you cover Health in the next weeks?
Zea: So we’re going to have an episode about Alzheimer’s. And we interviewed the son of Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez, who is a Colombian writer. He had Alzheimer’s and we have his son who tells us how he had to deal with this disease. But we also have episodes on diabetes, on mental health, on the long COVID, on infertility. So he stays tuned to find out more.
“We are serving more than 40 million Spanish-speaking people in this country. And I think it’s a very important job we have to do.”
-Tibisay Zea, guest of Salute
Siegel: Tibisay, working on this podcast, coming up with the idea, bringing it to fruition now: what do you think you 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 have found that misinformation in Spanish is a big problem. And, you know, immigrants come to this country to work. Many end up doing two, three jobs. They work odd hours. They do tough jobs that no one else wants to do. And this has a huge impact on our health. And what’s more, it is sometimes difficult to find reliable information in Spanish about healthcare, as I said earlier. So when they learn about diabetes, cardiovascular disease, it is sometimes 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 plan to serve more than 40 million Spanish speakers in this country. And I think it’s a very important job that we have to do.