Radio in Spain vs U.S

9 Nov

Following this week´s trip to a radio station in Barcelona, I have been thinking about the main differences I have noticed between the way radio is thought of in Spain and in the United States.  I cannot remember the last time I turned on the radio at home in New York to listen to a program. With everyone in New York having basic cable television, let alone some of the complex additional packages that are on the market today (think: 800+ channels with constant programming), there is simply not much need to even own a radio at home. The only time I can recall recently listening to radio is while driving, and this too is a downward-spiraling trend with the invention of iPod connecting car software. Why listen to a ´hits´station that is filled with a TON of advertisements and a constant repetition of songs when you can listen to any song you want at any time you want?

A main difference I have noticed between the two countries´use of radio is with sports. I have discussed in my Sport + Culture class about how FC Barcelona games often finish sometime around midnight. Immediately upon their completion, tens of thousands of listeners will tune in to various radio programs committed to recapping and dissecting the completed game. These programs continue into the wee hours of the morning! I cannot think of anyone in the United States listening to their radio at 2 am about a game that they just saw themselves on television. In fact, the most popular radio sports talk show in New York, Mike Francesa, is now offered live on television because people prefer to have a picture to see. Viewers would rather sit on their couch and watch a sitting man talk into a microphone than even entertain the idea of having no picture to associate with the words. In Spain, sport has a very distinct culture, present in a lot of different mediums, as evidenced by the publication of multiple daily sports newspapers, non-existent in American culture.

Stations like Catalunya Radio show that radio in Spain is more than a mere supplement to everyday life. It can be, and often is, the main provider of citizens´news, sports, and entertainment awareness. Sure, there are local news radio stations in New York that are popular, such as 1010 Wins, but similar to the sports programming, there is lots of repetition (the same announcements every 20 minutes or so), and advertisements. The only times in New York that I have heard people relying on such a station as their primary source for news is in taxi cabs…

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One Response to “Radio in Spain vs U.S”

  1. Anne-Marie November 9, 2011 at 5:14 pm #

    Radio Days, by Woodie Allen, a movie’s reminiscence about the golden age of radio…It used to be the ONLY thing connecting everyone, including the entire family who needed to gather around it for world wide news

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