Early this morning, César Miguel Rondón’s radio show returned to the airwaves for the first time this year with a surprising announcement during his daily editorial “La Noticia del Dia” (the quoted part begins at 03:43):

All the members of the (production) team have thought about it and discussed it. We’ve decided that from now on we’ll put the emphasis not so much on the opinions of political leaders or the analysts specialized on opining about this or that.

From now on, instead, we’re going to put the emphasis on you. On that citizen, on the Venezolano or Venezolana who despite all the hardships, is still here. Still here, and all in, or as we colloquially say around here, echandole una gandola por delante, so that children can go to school every morning, so they can go with their little uniforms as clean as possible. So that there’s something to come back to at night. So that hope is not lost.

There’s a country that despite that miserable leadership that has brought us onto this path, still wakes up every day to try to do something with their lives, with their families and therefore, with this country that has been left to us.

César Miguel is a National Institution, the metaphorical kind, smart, hyperinformed father of the nation’s political junkies (plus — full disclosure — literal father to others). Any change to his show is automatically big news. As he described it, the format change aims to include more citizen voices, to connect more with everyday Venezuelans and to share their stories, and less from politicians and talking heads. All inside the realm of journalism.

I reached out over the phone to Luis Carlos Diaz, who is one of the producers of the show (as well as husband to Her Nakyness), explained the reasoning behind the switch. For LC, it’s a case of burnout: just fatigue with both the current political agenda and — reading between the lines — a bit of boredom with the usual suspects.

The program was basically designed to set the informed citizen’s agenda, a format developed by C.M. Rondon himself over the last 27 years. Starting last year, we incorporated special reports that require lots time and resources to produce and now we want to incorporate more citizens’ perspectives, given the declining number of political figures and opinion experts that we can find to interview.

Luis Carlos described it as a “rediscovery” designed to respond to possible listener fatigue over the lack of progress at the national political stage. By focusing more on the voices of everyday people, they hope to go deeper into their stories and roles in the larger social spectrum.

It’s hard not to be a little concerned at first as you hear the editorial, much as you want to give César Miguel and his team the benefit of the doubt.

Then again, if he wasn’t tired of the political scene, César Miguel would be the only Venezuelan  — and out of touch is one thing he’s never been. The political scene isn’t just exhausting, it’s exhausted — just look at the images from today’s protest march and see if you agree with him.

I’m assured the show’s meticulously independent editorial line will not change. Even if César Miguel Rondón has had his share of controversies with the communicational hegemony before, that’s not what’s behind this. And that matters, at a time when our newspapers are still under the sword of Newsprint-geddon and foreign correspondents are kicked out of the country without explanation.

Venezuela needs César Miguel as much as ever. More than ever, arguably. What we don’t need is pointless radio. And after all these years, he’s sure not about to start doing that.

 

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