I’m happy to say that my ongoing search for Spanish podcasts has turned up a really nice one, El Explicador. My criteria in general are that the podcast be intended for native Spanish speakers, be more than a few minutes long, have regular updates, and have something of the find a in great English language podcasts, such as This American Life, or RadioLab.
El Explicador meets all of my criteria. It’s intended for native speakers, is an hour long, and it appears that new ones are out every day. The podcast is closer to RadioLab than This American Life, in that its Mexican host, Enrique Ganem, addresses scientific and philosophical topics in a way that is accessible to the common listener. Unlike RadioLab, it doesn’t have a lot of production, and it isn’t so based around story telling and humor. At first this made El Explicador seem a bit dull, but the more I listened, the more I got hooked on Enrique Ganem’s subtle style.
The programs are each about an hour long, and address questions and topics proposed to Ganem by his listeners. Ganem tends to go very in-depth. In one program he spent most of the hour giving a detailed explanation of telescopes, about how they work and the history of their development. He explained what exactly a telescope does with light, the advantages and disadvantages of different types of telescopes, and quirky stories about Chicago mob ties to telescope developments and astronomers who had themselves interred in the base of giant telescopes they’d built upon their deaths.
I’ve also learned about the megafauna of the Americas, pharmacology and ancient bacterium. Ganem has a way of making it all really interesting. Enough so that I usually forget that I’m listening in Spanish. His voice is clear and his cadence is good – not so fast that you can’t understand it, but not too slow as to be boring. The program is also great for vocabulary building, because of the array of subjects he tackles, and the detail he goes into with them.
Since the 1970s, Ganem has been a biologist, a professor, a journalist, a programmer, researcher and explainer of science in many different formats. You can find an impressive biography of him here.
You can find El Explicador on iTunes, or download it here from a site called Ivoox, which appears to have many other Spanish language podcasts that I’ll be checking out next.
Here is a Youtube clip of one of Ganem’s programs, in which he gives advice on learning languages. Enjoy! Let me know if you have any other suggestions for great Spanish podcasts.