Breanna de Vera is dot.LA's editorial intern. She is currently a senior at the University of Southern California, studying journalism and English literature. She previously reported for the campus publications The Daily Trojan and Annenberg Media.
Jordi Oliveres, who spent nearly a decade at Spanish-language media giant Univision, has been struck by how few podcasts speak to Latinos. This week, he — along with the former heads of Universal Music Group and Fonovisa Records — debuted their Latino podcasting company, hoping to tap a market that's largely been overlooked by some of the larger podcast studios.
"There isn't any content that speaks to [U.S. Latinos'] culture and interests," Oliveres said. "So we just thought there was a huge opportunity there to create content that genuinely speaks to the Latino community in podcasting."
L.A.-based Pitaya Entertainment launched with six new podcasts hosted by popular personalities including Puerto Rican actress Giselle Blondet and her daughter, Gabriella Pabón. For now, most of the podcasts are in Spanish, but the company will produce in both Spanish and English, as well as a mix of both.
Created by Oliveres, the former Universal Music Group President Zach Horowitz, former head of Fonovisa records Guillermo Santiso, Slate.com's podcast founder Andy Bowers and Campanario Entertainment Vice President of Spanish Development Diana Mejia-Jones, the company aims to produce shows about Latinos in the burgeoning new media form.
"[U.S. Latinos] are a community that's really engaged with media and entertainment, but they lag behind in podcast listening," Oliveres said. He added that Latinos overindex on all forms of media consumption, and podcasts will be no different.
According to the first-ever Latino Podcast Listener Report from Edison Research in 2020, 45% of U.S. Latinos ages 18 and over have listened to a podcast at some point in their lives. The study also found that podcast listening for over half of adult U.S. Latinos has increased since the outbreak of COVID-19.
"Podcasting companies are definitely paying attention to trends observed in video content," said Alejandro Rojas, executive director of Parrot Analytics, a global content analytics company. "In video, we're seeing demand for Spanish language content growing rapidly and gaining share."
Pitaya's six initial series launched over the last two weeks, all hosted by well-known Latino personalities with a large and devoted fan base; together, they have a combined social media following of more than 27.5 million. Among them are Blondet and Pabón, who cohost "¡Ay, Mamá!," a podcast on motherhood, and actress Alejandra Espinoza her sister Damaris Jimenez, who cohost "Entre Hermanas," a podcast series on self-improvement and female empowerment.
"Sin Rodeo," a podcast run by Jomari Goyso, debuted at number one on the Apple Podcasts U.S. Entertainment News chart. "Ana Patricia Sin Filtro," hosted by Ana Patricia Gámez, debuted as the highest-ranked Spanish language podcast in the U.S. on Apple's top 200 podcasts chart.
Pitaya also released an English-language podcast named "Hyphenated," in which Latina comedians Joanna Hausmann and Jenny Lornzo discuss the connections of Latino and American culture.
"We thought it was important to find hosts who are already very well known and respected in the community, and that had things to say that were meaningful and interesting," said Oliveres. "We looked for figures that already have large followings on social media and that have a presence in Latino media in general. And then we work together with them to build a show that represents their interests and the things that their followers are interested in, so that it's just a very organic extension of who they are and what their followers care about and want to hear about."Pitaya's podcasts are free and available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Pandora and Pitaya Entertainment's website, pitaya.fm. The company got its name because of pitaya fruits' origins in Latin America, their unique color and shape, and the ease of spelling and saying "pitaya" in both Spanish and English, said Oliveres.