With a remarkable 103-year journey, the radio refuses to yield its place among the elder statesmen of media platforms.
Today marks the celebration of Radio Day in Argentina, a day that commemorates the memory of the “eccentrics on the rooftop,” a group of individuals who were considered unconventional but far from insane, and certainly not glass-eaters or mineral collectors. They earned this moniker due to their involvement in setting up the initial broadcast equipment on the roof of the Guerrico family’s auction house, situated beside a theater. These pioneers included Enrique Telémaco Susini, a multifaceted individual who was recognized as a Renaissance man of the mid-20th century. Together with his accomplices, including César Guerrico, Luis Romero Carranza, and Miguel Mujica, all of whom hailed from the Barrio Norte and shared a passion for radio, music, and experimentation, they achieved the remarkable feat of transmitting Richard Wagner’s opera “Parsifal” from the Coliseo theater to around 50 receivers in Buenos Aires. This inaugural broadcast marked the birth of LOR Radio Argentina, a milestone that established itself as the world’s first station dedicated to consistent broadcasting, artistic continuity, and mass public engagement.
These broadcasts, which paved the way for further operatic presentations like “Aída,” “Iris,” “Rigoletto,” “Manón,” and “Nina,” among others, demonstrated the pioneering spirit of these individuals. Their dedication ultimately led to the birth of LOR Radio Argentina, a foundation that created the blueprint for modern radio broadcasting.
As someone who has authored five books on this medium and holds a deep affection and gratitude towards radio, I find myself captivated by its magic. Radio has enabled me to embrace my true self in front of a microphone, becoming an inseparable part of my personal, cultural, musical, and sentimental growth. This journey of learning unfolds every time I take the mic. Growing up in close proximity to a radio, it has been a fundamental element in shaping my identity. To this day, being behind a microphone makes me feel remarkably liberated, and I continue to derive happiness from my engagement with radio.
Here are a few of the myriad insights and lessons I’ve gained from being on air:
- One-to-Many Connection: Radio possesses a unique power to create a sense of intimacy. Though a broadcast may target a mass audience, listeners often perceive the message as a personal and direct communication.
- A Platform for Experimentation: Radio thrives on experimentation and innovative formats. It is a space of immense freedom, diversity, and creativity. Yet, the advent of polarization has also revealed its challenges; audiences tend to stick around only when their existing beliefs are affirmed.
- The Sum of Small Details: The charm of radio lies in the aggregation of small details that contribute to a distinctive experience. A veteran host once remarked, “Radio is about accumulating bits of trivia.” While some may dismiss this as trivial, there is value in the diverse range of details radio offers.
- Radiating Warmth and Trust: Radio is synonymous with warmth, closeness, and entertainment. It serves as a comforting companion and a source of trust. Listeners often turn to radio when seeking solutions, knowing their concerns will be heard.
- The Power of Company: Radio provides companionship to solitary individuals. A simple birthday message from a listener serves as a powerful reminder that the medium is both a friend and a solace to those in need.
- The Theater of the Mind: Orson Welles rightly described radio as the “theater of the mind.” This concept was later enriched by Alberto Migré, who emphasized that the true impact of words comes alive in the listener’s imagination.
- The Healing Power of Time: Mistakes and dissatisfaction are inherent to broadcasting. However, radio offers the gift of redemption. What troubles us today often fades, replaced by a clearer perspective tomorrow.
- Unpredictable Surprises: Unexpected subjects often resonate deeply with the audience, defying our initial expectations. Radio’s ability to elicit surprising responses keeps the medium vibrant.
- Author Radio and the Digital Age: Author radio, a genre prevalent in Argentina, challenges the dominance of technology. While analog enthusiasts adapt to digital terms, radio’s essence remains rooted in storytelling and meaningful content.
- Diverse Formats and Breaking Conventions: The traditional radio format, centered around a host and specialists, can be limiting. Author radio breaks free from conventions and engages listeners in novel ways.
- Radio in the Digital World: The internet has expanded radio’s reach globally. Listeners can tune in to any corner of the world, reinforcing the significance of radio’s role in providing a shared experience.
- The Evolving Landscape: Radio has embraced new forms, from on-demand and online streaming to podcasts and platforms like Radio Cut and Spotify. However, the core lies in meaningful content that resonates with the audience.
- Unexpected Connections: Radio is akin to casting a bottle into the sea; messages reach unexpected destinations, surprising unsuspecting recipients. It fosters connections that predate social media.
- Building Audiences Slowly: Radio gains listeners one by one, forming a loyal audience. Quantity doesn’t always trump quality; those who stay connected matter the most.
- Publicity and Interruptions: Advertisements, though perceived as interruptions, provide a necessary pause and contribute to the dynamic of the show. Attention to technical operations is vital, as the technician serves as the first listener.
- Collaborative Spirit: Healthy collaboration trumps competition. A united team, devoid of rivalry, fosters a supportive environment.
- Local Relevance: While global news has its place, the heart of radio is in local news and weather updates that directly impact listeners’ lives.
- Diverse Voices: Radio embraces diversity through community, neighborhood, educational, and alternative stations. It provides a voice to marginalized groups.
- Empowerment through Listeners: Stations supported by listeners exemplify a remarkable partnership. Listeners become stakeholders, ensuring the survival of a beloved station.
- Continued Vitality: Argentine radio, now 103 years old, remains vibrant, distinct, and an irreplaceable presence in the media landscape. With live programming and an unwavering commitment to serving its listeners, radio maintains its relevance, adapting to modern demands.
As we celebrate over a century of radio’s existence, we bear witness to its resilience, adaptability, and enduring impact on individuals and society. Radio’s timeless allure, rooted in the art of storytelling and genuine connection, ensures its place as an enduring companion in an ever-evolving world.
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