“There are some words, not many, just a few — that we decided, we won’t use them all the time,” said the late comedian George Carlin in his famous routine about the “seven dirty words.” If you aren’t familiar with it—the skit tries to pinpoint a definitive list of words you can never say on radio and television.

Ironically enough, Carlin’s list of naughty words has since become more-or-less the industry standard of what you can’t say on the radio. It made us wonder—what can’t you say in Spanish on the radio? Nobody ever made a list for us!

To help us figure it out, we invited Mexican-American comedian Felipe Esparza to come and talk with us about the joys and pitfalls of cussing in en español. We also speak with NPR Standards & Practices Editor Mark Memmott. And, a conversation with Jessica Gonzalez from the National Hispanic Media Coalition about how the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has failed to enforce the same standards in Spanish-language media as in English-language media.

Photo by Jonathan Bruck via Flickr. 


Felipe Esparza is a comedian and actor, best known for his raw, real-life comedy that audiences everywhere can relate to Felipe won NBC’s Last Comic Standing in 2010, and soon after, starred in his first one-hour Showtime special, and now he is touring comedy clubs and theaters across the world and working on a new one-hour special. He is the host of the podcast “What’s Up Fool?”, available on the All Things Comedy podcast network.




Mark Memmott Mark Memmott is NPR’s supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he’s a resource for NPR’s journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization’s standards. Prior to joining NPR, Memmott worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor at USAToday. He focused on a range of coverage from politics, foreign affairs, economics, and the media. He reported from places across the United States and the world, including half a dozen trips to Afghanistan in 2002-2003.




Jessica J. Gonzalez.jpg

Jessica oversees all NHMC operations from headquarters in Pasadena, California. In her former role, Jessica ran NHMC’s Washington, D.C. office, leading NHMC’s legal and policy work  to advance federal policies that increase Latino inclusion in media and ensure universal, open and affordable communications services. She has testified before the U.S. House of Representatives, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

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