Podcasts are where it’s at right now, but sometimes it feels like the whitewashed medium doesn’t have much to offer music lovers living at the margins. Enter Radio Menea.
The Latinx feminist podcast by cubana Miriam Zoila Pérez and venezolana Verónica Bayetti Flores is the soundtrack to a queer mami's sancocho: mainstream bachata and reggaeton mixed with alternative Latin punk y hip-hop, some Spanglish, a dash of mujerista thought and, of course, LGBTQ+ analysis sprinkled throughout. Delicioso!
Crossing genres and journeying through history, the co-hosts cleverly seam Albita, Gloria Estefan, Selena and Ivy Queen together with Rita Indiana, Nitty Scott and La Santa Cecilia to address topics of diaspora, queerness, afrolatinidad, love and womanhood.
The bi-weekly podcast started from a place of queer Latina friendship, so it’s not unusual to hear laughs between the música and dialogue on capitalism. Still, the Washington, DC-based Pérez and New York-livin’ Bayetti Flores are serious about their mission: to carve out a space for themselves in Latinx media and make their queer feminist Latinidad visible while calling on others to do the same.
The music-obsessed caribeñas talked with Latina about Radio Menea – which we can all agree is a glorious name – the challenge of loving canciones that don’t align with our politics, music as connection to an inaccessible tierra, finding resistance through song and more.
1. How did you two come up with the idea for this podcast and why do you think it was necessary to create?
Pérez: The idea started through a text message I sent Veró after watching Snap Stories of the Latin Grammys last year. I texted her like, “how do we get an invite’ and was like, ‘we should start a podcast.’” I’m not sure why I thought that would help us. We’ve been friends since ‘08, but the last couple of years we’ve been texting a lot, talking about music. It sort of made sense to translate that into a podcast.
Bayetti Flores: It was an opportunity to do something cool, and I think that if there’s something I want that doesn’t exist, I want to create it, and we were lucky to have the time, space and people instrumental in helping us to make this happen.
2. Then there’s the name. Tell me how you two came up with the glorious name, Radio Menea.
Bayetti Flores: We basically decided on the least crappy names first. We talked about it for so long, discussing what are good words, and menea is like a good one. It gets at one way we connect to music, like to dance. We’re both Caribbean, and menea is very Caribbean. Then we thought adding “Radio” before it made it sound better.
3. So when it comes to music, you two have somewhat different tastes. Pérez, you’re a lover of the mainstream and, Veró, while pop has grown on you, you’re an underground head. How do you two balance this on the podcast?
Bayetti Flores: We each bring the same number of songs for each episode, but for years we have talked about music and have influenced each other’s taste. She has helped me appreciate songs I would never come to on my own. The other day, Prince Royce came on the radio, and I left it on. I would have never done that before. We have separate tastes, but it’s not that much of a dichotomy. We like to bring a little of both and not be snobby on what’s better or cooler. A lot of times in alternative Latino spaces, there’s snobbery on mainstream pop, and I’m not interested in that.
4. Of course, it’s not just about the music, Radio Menea covers various themes, so far love, afrolatinidad, queer identity and more. How do you choose these subjects?
Pérez: It’s the things we care about and the themes from the music. I listen to music all the time, and now I’m listening to it with an eye toward the podcast. I’m listening to new themes through the songs I love. In some ways, as was with Orlando, music was healing and mourning. Other times, the themes are the ways in which music has influenced our lives, made us feel the feelings in our relationships, in life. This week’s episode is about nostalgia, the diaspora, so the theme kind of comes out of the music and our lives, and it’s usually like 5 or 6 songs per episode.