Communicational Hegemony vs. Mozart

Bye-bye, Don Giovanni...
Bye-bye, Don Giovanni…

This piece of news made me desperately sad.

Caracas’s lone classical music radio station, the Emisora Cultural, is now off the air in Caracas after CONATEL failed to process its request for a broadcast license extension, handing its slice of the spectrum instead to the umpteen zillionth brash, crass latin pop station.

The station will remain active online, and on its 97.3 frequency out of Guatire – which you can’t really hear clearly in most of the capital.

And so it’s curtains for perhaps the last remaining haven for radio listeners not into reggaeton, rambling chavista extremism or baseball. Just like that, another little bit of what remained of our public sphere dies.

Emisora Cultural has a special place in my heart. Probably because my mom was into classical music and so we’d listen to it often when I was a kid. In those days, in the early 80s, it was the only FM station in Caracas. You wouldn’t even say “hey, let’s put on 97.7”, you’d just say “switch it to FM” when you wanted to hear classical music. For years, before moving abroad, I thought FM radio was only capable of broadcasting classical music!

For some time now I’ve been writing from the other side of the hope Event Horizon, so it’s not really often that a piece of news about Venezuela actually makes me sad. But hearing this I really felt a little part of my childhood die. My heart is broken.

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  1. Radio Nacional (not FM) used to have some classic music as well, apart from some stuff about science.
    Have you tried to listen to it in the last 14 years? I tried twice, for one minute or so…disgusting. At least Radio Moskva during Brezhnev-Gorbachov times had some stuff other than shitty ideology.

    • he’s not about to bite the hand that has fed him, he has expressed his chavista sympathies — don’t know if still, and he’s enjoying the trappings of fame, both in LA and as a visiting conductor, elsewhere.

    • Well for what I have read, it seems that after the “departed” the orchestras haven’t received money…And really Gustavo Dudamel has nothing to do…the Sitema and Emisora Cultural are different things

    • Dudamel is the Pseudo-Revolution’s Mephisto, in the Klaus Mann’s sense.
      He is so different from Gabriela Montero.
      Last thing I heard about him in Venezuela was that one of his bodyguards was killed when caught in one of the daily shootings in Caracas…that’s it, the guy has bodyguards when visiting the heart of the Revolution. I can’t imagine a well-know classic musician with bodyguards in Western Europe.

  2. Very sad new, indeed. There is still another radio in the FM broadcasting classical music (Radio Nacional). It’s 60% propaganda, but the remaining 40% is very interesting (à la France Musique, if you know). Of course, better if you know when turning it on: morning between 8 and 11 am, sunday evening for opera, etc.

    • Recently on the radio, I listened to one soprano, who was on the first cultural exchange between the US and China, tell how unnerving it was to perform to an audience that talked to each other during the concert, and even spat on the floor. That is, after years of the cultural revolution…

  3. I routinely listen to this station on my daily conmmutes and discovered some weeks ago that its signal was being intercepted by signal from another radio station , then a few days ago the 99.7 signal was taken over by another station and by accident discovered that the emisora cultural was broadcasting from 99.3 , same as always. Used to listen to Radio Nacional in the old days before it became a vehicle for boring regime propaganda . Understand that during some hours of the day you can still listen to some of the old classical music programs but not knowing the schedule for these programs I currently just never dial it anymore.

    • You live in the Land of Grace then?

      As I said: I have only tried to see what’s Radio Nacional doing in these last few years and I was shocked…but at the same time I saw it as an opportunity.

      I live in Europe and I often meet people who want to know more about Venezuela.
      Quite some of them speak Spanish. They tend to be rather lefty.
      To save time when they ask me about why I don’t like Chavismo I simply refer to them to Venezuelan blogs AND to VTV and Radio Nacional. I tell them: if you want to hear the counterpart of what we say, just go to the sources, enjoy the messages you can read at the official Chavista sites.

      Those sites are brainwashing material for the most naive in Venezuela but they tend to be revolting for most people in Western Europe.

    • AND — it’s still available online, which allows us “venezuelans of the world” to listen in. It’s a bit less sedate to how it was in the late 70s/early 80s. La Emisora Cultural is one of those rare criollo phenomenons that should (if not already, as I don’t know) have a book written about it.

  4. Quico, I remember reading in The Caracas Chronicles book an article you wrote titled “Chávez, totalitarianism, and the fecklesness of the opposition” posted on May 5th, 2003.

    I was just wondering what’s your take on this whole communicational hegemony, and if you think that Venezuela is one step closer towards a totalitarian system?

  5. The links aboveto the station do not work.
    This “Emisora Cultural” was the child of Humberto Peñaloza, a great Venezuelan who is being unjustly forgotten, like everybody who did something good in our country .
    Anibal Martinez, who is in Caracas, would know much about its origins. It would be nice to talk to him.

  6. I hear ya’ll’s pain.

    When we drive around a stressful city it’s a gift to listen to that which elevates the spirit .

  7. i still listen to my fathers old telfunken 1959 tube radio set in Canada. For many years it was tuned to 97.7 stereo, …”simplemente de todo…” Los gingles y presentaciones of la emisora cultural de caracas, remind me of my late father and a good part of the lost venezuela.
    La revolucion Cultural chavacana chavista avanza…

  8. One of the fantasies of the regime is that people are always interested in hearing their insult laden speeches and boring long winded bombastic propaganda pieces rather than some good music ( be it classical or non classical) or informative programs or stimulating prattel . Classical music lovers have a special hard time because only two stations broadcast any and only at times in which most people are shut in their offices or workplaces . The cultural offer on Caracas radio is dismal to non existent . In the old days you had at least two stations broadcasting classical music all of the time . Better than Miami which for years and years had no classical music station . Makes you miss places like Boston or London where radio can be so interesting and classical music always within reach of you dial.


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