Radio Yungas reaches 30 / Radio Yungas llega a los 30

Pinche aquí para escuchar: Radio Yungas Audio

For English text, please see below.

En muchas partes del mundo, la radio es un medio vital de comunicación. En Las Yungas de Bolivia, una región de pobres carreteras y valles inaccesibles donde las montañas de Los Andes descienden a la selva, Radio Yungas provee un servicio esencial para la comunidad.

The region of The Yungas, in the department of La Paz, is in festive mood. Its radio station, Radio Yungas, celebrates 30 years. Founded by Augustine Fathers as a means of envangelising, Radio Yungas has become part of the family for the residents of this land of deep valleys, as Sabino Gomez, station director, comments:

Sabino: “A few years ago, during the rule of the right-wing governments, there was repression, there were threats to eradicate the coca leaf, and other things like that. So there were marches, from Asunta (a town in The Yungas) to La Paz, and Radio Yungas was there with the marchers. During this period of struggle, there were also threats that the Radio would be taken, so they (the listeners) got organised… there were lots of people surrounding the radio station, acullicando, picchando (chewing coca), looking after the radio station. It was an emotional time… I sometimes felt like crying.”

Those of us who love the radio might feel we can’t live without the magic of the waves, but for Yungeños, the radio is a necessity. In this region of isolated rural villages, Radio Yungas is the way to receive and communicate news of one’s community, union or family. The station fulfills this social service through a network of more than 60 community correspondents.

Olga Maldonado, “people’s reporter” of the village of Irupana, tells us how she works:

Olga: “People come here to broadcast their news, such as appointments, meetings, messages. I note them down and then call to Chulumani (the town where Radio Yungas’ headquarters is based), and they record them and broadcast them. A lot of the time we broadcast directly from here, live. Community leaders come to give their news… mostly about their union meetings, and also events and things like that.”

Radio: “Chulumani, Chulumani … Freddy, isn’t it? There’s a leader here from the community of Matikuni. He wants to let people know about their events, through the radio….”

Radio Yungas features an informative, educational and entertaining schedule that caters for all ages. Huacho Comunicaciones is one of the most popular programmes. Maria Chambi Mamani, its feminine voice, tells us about her programme:

Maria: “I’m the one, let’s say, who wakes the people up. We do it from 4 to 7 in the morning… a programme in the Aymara language. We give information of all types, also music, orientation, education.”

When Radio Yungas started it was the only station in the area. The last 30 years have seen the arrival of the television, internet and mobile phone, and today it competes with various other local radio stations. However, there is still a big demand for Radio Yungas’ services, as Edgar Quispe, radio administrator, explains:

Edgar: We still have the same politics that we had when Radio Yungas was founded. Maybe our service will change, because the technology of the mobile phone has arrived, along with other things, but despite this, we are still cost effective; communication via telephone only reaches one person at a time. In a typical community here in the Yungas there are usually at least 20 members. Reaching this amount of people (by telephone), is very difficult. Someone who wants to communicate by mobile would have to spend three times as much at least, and then there’s also the time.”

Radio: “Tell young Silvero Nunia please that he has to come home… his father says he’s not going to be able to pick him up, it’s going to be impossible, so…”

Edgar: “We’ve won the trust of the people over the last 30 years. The audience is part of the radio… they feel that Radio Yungas is part of them.”


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