Miguel Melgarejo is a designer focused on social innovation based in Mexico City. He is the cofounder of Fuera de Contexto, a podcast about design and creative culture in Latin America that recently started a collaboration with the podcast Radio Ambulante. Melgarejo described to Storybench how he stumbled upon podcasting, if there’s an appetite for experimental podcasting in Mexico, and how audio storytelling tickles the ears.
What is Fuera de Contexto and how did you start it?
Fuera de contexto is a podcast about the creative world and design in Latin America. I started it three years ago with José de la O, another designer, after meeting him in Holland where we were both studying. We found out we both loved podcasts and so we spent time sharing podcasts back and forth and talking about what we liked about them. In the end, we wanted to apply what we were learning from them and started recording our own.
How were you attracted to podcasting?
[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=”says @miguelmelgarejo”]Podcasts transport you to other places in the world using your ear and lots of imagination[/inlinetweet]. It’s not like you’re watching TV and shutting off your brain. You’re having an active conversation with the podcast you’re listening to.
Why start a podcast in Mexico? Is there an appetite for them?
We get a lot of podcasts from the exterior but there’s nothing national and barely anything in our language. Most radio shows are long interview format or people talking about things they shouldn’t be. There aren’t many programs or radio platforms that tell you stories. There’s lots of interviews. There’s lots of idiotic shows, too.
As designers, why start a podcast?
In the design world, there’s a lot of storytelling. In different formats and in different ways, we like to use details to tell a story and add humanity to design. But in Mexico, we’re always consuming books, blogs, podcasts in English. There’s a big opportunity for a podcast and a storytelling community to add to the Latin American design identity.
What kind of tools and technology do you use?
We’ve done this very D.I.Y. We prototype, try things out; it’s a very rustic approach. The hardware isn’t the best but it works. We use Hindenburg [the audio mixing program] to make the shows. We actually have a collaboration with them where we’re translating their online documentation into Spanish. When we want to more complicated and adventurous things, we use Ableton Live. To record, we used our iPhones at first. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t ideal. We now use a XOOM H2N. It sounds much better. If a podcast isn’t treating your ear right, then what’s the point?
Describe for us a typical episode of Fuera de Contexto.
Our episodes usually tell the story of how a person, within their environment, applies design or some kind of creative discipline to try to change it. This generates expected results, unexpected lessons, and surprising reflections. Our episodes tell the stories of people who decide to take the world and create their own reality through their imagination and their own hands.
Tell us about the collaboration with Radio Ambulante.
They heard a story of ours about sex motels in Mexico. Daniel Alarcón [Radio Ambulante’s founder and award-winning novelist] found it interesting and asked us to explore the topic for them. We found a very interesting story and now we’re working with producer Martina Castro.
What are you learning from working with Radio Ambulante?
Radio Ambulante is teaching us how to structure our stories. The final piece will be more of a mix between our punk ways, by which I mean our D.I.Y. way of doing things, and Radio Ambulante’s more structured ways. We’re learning about journalism, too. I don’t want to call what we make journalism, mostly out of respect.
How has the response been in Mexico to your podcast?
We have a design community, mostly because of our day jobs as designers. They’re receptive. But we’re constantly having to show people that stories can be told with podcasts. We say “Hey, look, this is a podcast” and they say “I don’t have time” and we say “Yes you do! You’re in a car for two to three hours a day.”
What are the plans for the future?
We want to create an environment of podcasts, a place where we can get together, recommend and share each other’s podcasts. But it’s been very difficult. We haven’t found an open enough community. We’re excited about the next design summit Abierto Mexicano de Diseño, where there are lots of booths for designers to show off their work. We see that place as an opportunity. No one is speaking to you about humanity in their designs or how design affected them. Podcasting can help open that door.
What other podcasts in Spanish do you recommend?