NPR adds 'Radio Ambulante' to podcast lineup

As the competition for podcast listeners heats up, NPR is adding a ringer to its portfolio.

"Radio Ambulante," the Spanish-language radio show co-founded by novelist-journalist Daniel Alarcón, will be distributed by NPR, the public radio network announced this morning.

The addition fits with NPR's slate of high-quality narrative journalism and gives the broadcaster an entreé to more than 50 million Spanish speakers living in the U.S., Anya Grundmann, NPR's vice president for programming and audience development said in a press release.

"Daniel Alarcon and the 'Radio Ambulante' team are pioneers in audio storytelling in the Spanish language," she wrote. "Their ear for language, beguiling imagination and deep journalism are a rare combination."

"Radio Ambulante," which was founded in 2011, got off the ground with the help of a Kickstarter campaign and other fundraising efforts (including bake sales). During its first season, the podcast was played 7,000 times. In 2012, the podcast was streamed 70,000 times. This year, the podcast was played 1.5 million times, a rapid rise fueled in part by partnerships with "Radiolab," The New York Times, "99 Percent Invisible" and "Reply All."

Alarcon and his team considered the offer after NPR approached them earlier this year. "Radio Ambulante" ultimately joined NPR because the network's immense resources (sales, audience and training) would help the podcast continue to grow, Alarcón said.

"To be frank, we've always had a very good record selling sponsorship as well as getting support from foundations and listeners," Alarcón said. "It's just been an issue of spreading our small team too thin."

The terms of the deal were not disclosed by NPR.

The partnership will allow "Radio Ambulante" to collaborate with journalists throughout NPR, including at "All Things Considered," "Morning Edition," "Code Switch" and "Embedded." It will also see the show tackling ever more ambitious stories, Alarcón said, including coverage of the tumultuous political situation in Venezuela.

He expects to add to the show's team of eight and grow "Radio Ambulante"'s audience under NPR's banner.

"I'm very optimistic," he said.

Correction: An earlier version of this story characterized "Radio Ambulante" as a radio show. In fact, it's a podcast.

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    Benjamin Mullin

    Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism innovation, business practices and ethics.


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