Radios. A heavyweight forced to innovate and reinvent itself

Radios.  A heavyweight forced to innovate and reinvent itself

Gone are the days when radio dictated customs and above all was the main means of companionship. There are programs that marked generations. And if in the beginning it was known for broadcasting radio soap operas, it quickly gained space for broadcasting comedies, requested albums, among many other programs. But over the decades it was forced to modernize and even reinvent itself.

It was through the radio that the passwords were heard that secretly gave the signal for the troops to leave the barracks in the early hours of April 25, 1974. Around 10:55 pm on the 24th, João Paulo Dinis, on the antenna of Emissores Associados de Lisbon, aired And after Adeus, by Paulo Carvalho, the winning song at that year’s Festival da Canção. Half an hour later, on Rádio Renascença, it would be Grândola Vila Morena, by Zeca Afonso, to confirm the start of the revolution. And it was also here that the first news was heard about the events and reactions of the populations that followed the revolution.
The importance of radio was put aside with the appearance of television, first in black and white, until today. At the beginning of the year, a study by Havas Media Network concluded that open television channels and search engines continue to lead the table of means used by the Portuguese to obtain information, with traditional means being seen as more credible.
Still, it gained ground in programs that listen to the listener’s voice. The formula is simple: give guests and listeners the opportunity to exchange ideas with each other, programs that can surpass other national media, enforcing the egalitarian principle of opinion. And, according to several studies, it has been proven that these programs stimulate political communication and promote free expression, particularly in matters of civic and political content.
Also in electoral campaigns, radio gained importance. Since 2015, the candidates’ last debate has been held in this medium. And this legislative campaign is no exception. The meeting is scheduled for February 26th.

Challenges And on the day that World Radio Day is celebrated, this medium continues to face several challenges. On February 5th, changes to the Radio Law were published in the Diário da República, in which the minimum share of Portuguese music on the radio is set at 30%, no longer subject to annual approval by the Government. Radio operators are also required to provide the ERC, on a monthly basis, with the information necessary to monitor Portuguese music broadcasting quotas.
Until now, the law said that radio stations had to reserve at least 25% of their broadcasts for Portuguese music, a percentage that was highly contested by artists. In force since 2009, the minimum mandatory quota rose in 2021 to 30% as a response to the effects of the pandemic, but “after this period” returned to 25%.

Until today, the first official radio that appeared in Portugal was in 1935 with the National Broadcasting Company, currently Antena 1. A year later, Rádio Renascença began experimental broadcasts. After the 25th of April there was a new turnaround and they were all nationalized, with the exception of Renascença and, in 1976, the National Broadcaster was renamed Rádio Didições Portuguesa (RDP).
The 80s saw a boom in so-called Pirate Radios, which took over frequencies by storm and quickly gained the interest of listeners. Its quality wasn’t the best, but that wasn’t its goal either. In high schools, the famous pirate radio stations were emerging, with student associations playing music that divided opinions, but livened up the breaks. Many of them ended up becoming professionals.
However, faced with the chaotic situation in broadcasting, the State was forced to intervene and legislated on free radio stations, in a process that was far from peaceful as it left many behind, giving, at the time, the highest frequency to Correio da Manhã radio in to the detriment of the TSF. A process that caused a lot of ink to flow. But that ended up dictating their future: we have hundreds of them who now find themselves faced with new challenges and have been forced to reinvent themselves.
Between betting on digital formats and investing in podcasts, anything goes to attract and retain listeners. Thanks to new technologies, radio is spreading in new forms and on new devices, which makes portability even easier. In this edition, we take a trip to the programs that marked the older generations, we give voice to one of the radio’s voices, António Sala, and we talk about the challenges of the ether.
Interestingly, these days, some televisions copy the radio model and the reporting of football games, with commentators in the studio, without images of the game, are a success.
Gone are the days when people dreamed of the face of the voice coming out of the radio. Today, journalists and communicators are almost as well-known as their television colleagues. Television that did not kill radio, as was once claimed, and that, as was said, even copies the radio model.


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