It was simple.
Rhonda Solis was looking to create a program featuring Latina voices. Cristobal “Chris” Garcia wanted to spotlight the work of the Hispanic/Latino community in Northern Colorado. And while the two had met as community members volunteering at a local high school, it was only later—after they both completed fellowships through the University of Denver’s Latino Leadership Institute—where their distinct, yet similar, desires took hold. A partnership in a podcast was born.
The Latino Northern Colorado podcast may have started as an entrepreneurial endeavor to create a digital platform for stories and issues impacting the Latinx community, but it would quickly became a communication vehicle to “build awareness about Latino life” in the place Garcia and Solis call home: Greeley. That connection to each other and to their listeners underscores the podcast’s popularity and growing sponsorships.
A Voice for the Community
When talking about their podcast, Garcia and Solis are quick to point out that “it’s not meant to be the voice of Latinos in Northern Colorado, but rather a voice.”
Since its inception in 2018, the co-hosts have covered a broad array of topics, including mental health, economic resilience, education access, equity and inclusion, Latino civic engagement, among other contemporary topics.
A Commitment to Northern Colorado
When not hosting their podcast, Garcia and Solis spend their days demonstrating their leadership in and commitment to Northern Colorado.
Garcia serves as Associate Director of Alumni Relations and Staff Fellow for Hispanic Serving Institution Initiatives at the University of Northern Colorado, and he volunteers with the Northern Colorado Young Professionals through the Greeley Chamber of Commerce. In addition, Garcia is co-founder of the Latinx Professional Network, which hosts professional development and engagement opportunities for Hispanic/Latino-identifying young professionals in the area.
Solis has been a community advocate in Northern Colorado for more than 25 years, serving on the Greeley Dream Team Board of Directors and volunteering with the Latino Coalition of Weld County. She’s also an education advocate. Solis served two terms as a member of the Greeley-Evans School District 6 Board of Education and she’s a candidate for the State Board of Education representing Colorado’s new 8th Congressional District.
Q&A with Chris and Rhonda
We caught up with the two hosts to ask them to share their My Greeley story; to talk about the podcast, its storytelling function and their role as advocates — if not influencers—for Hispanics and Latinos in Northern Colorado.
Can you tell us about the podcast and what goes on behind the scenes?
Chris Garcia (CG): Beyond my duties as a co-host, I manage the technical aspects of Latino Northern Colorado, including the hardware used to record, the software and web platforms necessary to edit, produce and launch, and the social media platforms critical for promotion. I also connect with potential guests and draft the scripts used to engage guests. Rhonda co-hosts each episode, helps source guests and, as such, is our number one podcast networker.
What about the format? How do you choose guests and topics, and what can listeners expect when tuning in?
CG: Rhonda and I meet regularly to discuss options and opportunities for each episode, which run anywhere from 30-50 minutes. Listeners can expect two hosts ready to listen, discuss and respond, respectively. Sometimes the episodes will be light, and you’ll hear a lot of laughter. In others, we share personal experiences of our time growing up, living, working and advocating in Greeley.
What excites you about Latino Northern Colorado?
CG: Conversations and storytelling are always new and exciting. Each episode is easy to listen to on the way to work, and some highlight Hispanic/Latino movers and shakers who are doing challenging work in our community. We also talk about serious issues and provide resources that listeners can tap into. No matter what, we like to add a little fun and spice to each episode.
Has there been one podcast or maybe a specific topic that you would say really engaged your listeners?
Rhonda Solis (RS): The first episode has always been my favorite because it touches on how we got started. As far as our listeners, I think every episode touches and reaches people in different ways, and we have definitely been surprised by all the listeners we get from different countries. Our most famous guest has been Dolores Huerta. That episode was really impactful.
In an article in the Greeley Tribune, it mentioned that you two were dedicated to keeping the program local. Why is it important that you focus on stories and issues pertaining to Northern Colorado?
RS: Northern Colorado has a rich history of generations of Latinos, and our goal is to tell those stories. We have a lot to celebrate in our region, and we still have work to do when it comes to inclusion, diversity, equity, and access. It is also important to acknowledge the contributions that have been made by Latinos in the success of Northern Colorado. We want to keep it local because this is our community.
How can the Greeley community support Latino Northern Colorado?
CG: We ask people to listen. So often, local communities can be insular—to people who look like them, think like them, live in the same neighborhoods, attend the same churches. What we lack sometimes is an understanding about people who don’t look like us, who have different ideas and different thoughts. There’s a power that comes from a diversity of perspective, which is why we intentionally built this podcast to be inclusive and not solely for a Latino audience.
What does being a part of the Greeley community mean to you?
CG: Being a part of Greeley means a great deal to both of us because it means challenge, opportunity, resilience, engagement, creativity, culture, community and growth inclusive of Hispanics, Latinos, Mexicanos, Chicanos.
We’re from here; we work here; we want this community to thrive. When we rise, we all rise.