A Taste Of Radio Italiano


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I write this with my knees touching my elbows, on a return flight by a well known budget airline. Named after someone called Ryan. Surname, Air. Myself and Mrs A have celebrated our anniversary in Sardinia, and as we drove our hire car/ golf buggy around the island I couldn’t resist having a flick around the dial. Here’s some stuff I found interesting.

(N.B. We were there for like one week. Other than what I heard in these few days I am happy to say I have absolutely no clue about Italian radio in general, I just tuned into what sounded good!)

1. In fact maybe that’s a good place to start… I once heard someone say that when abroad they only tuned into what sounded most professional, and that actually turned out to be the most popular station in that country. It made me think about how people in the UK settle on stations they like when flicking. The playlist, the imaging, the confidence of the DJ… Without understanding the language these were the only things I had to go on to form my taste and opinion. And usually I’m frustrated with DJs only having space for short links, but without caring for what was being said I found myself desparate for them to get to the next tune! Which lead to me¬†asking the question, does the Joe Bloggs listener in the UK really pay as much attention to our talent as we like to think?

2. This is my favourite: the sound of a doorbell is an amazing audio tool! As a listener, if you’re zoning out (and it’s easy to do so when everything is in a different language!) this single sound makes you sit up and listen, bringing you right back into what’s happening on the radio! Subconsciously, your brain knows that’s a sound you need to pay attention to because of it’s connotations. It’s genius really!
(If you want to get really nerdy on this one, have you ever noticed in films when they are building urgency or tension, sound designers will use the sound of a ringing telephone? It’s a sound your brain subconsciously associates with that feeling of urgency – getting to that phone before it hangs up… Listen closer next time!)

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Radio Del Golfo: broadcasting to north North Sardinia! (and owners of a shocking logo)

3. One station (and maybe someone can tell me which?) were ahead of anything I’ve seen in terms of a daily visualisation offering. This station were broadcasting a radio show, there were no doubts about that – it sounded like a radio show, it tasted like a radio show, it was a radio show. But it was being piped to the TV screens of a couple of the bars in the towns we visited. And the studio and presenters were set up in a way similar to American TV sportscasting, with the presenters on ‘Madonna’ mics and cans, sat behind their desks and talking to camera. They were driving their own desk, and when the music came on they would show the music videos, in much the same way that the Radio 1 Chart Show does.

4) Italians care not for censoring lyrical content! Okay, maybe a few things get lost in translation. But at the BBC there’s the obligatory All Staff email asking if anyone can perform a quick lyric check on a song in a foreign language before it is broadcast. But I’m sure I heard the dreaded N-Bomb at least twice!

5) Sardinia seems to love a little bit of specialist music in the daytime. I landed on a sturdy-sounding¬†station called Radio Del Golfo in Porto Torres (who’s tagline seemed to include the words “broadcasting to north North Sardinia”. Fans of Alan Partridge will appreciate the “east East Anglia” connection!) On this station, at 2pm, right in the middle of a hot Monday afternoon, DJ Stephan (who’s segues and ability to talk up to the vocal made Steve Wright look amateur) hosted ‘Soul Time’, a funky slab of specialist output. He seemed very knowledgable about the music he was playing but avoided jabbering on too much about it. Instead he let the music speak for itself.

Which was useful because I didn’t have a clue what anyone else was saying.
Ciao bella!

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