Roberto Selles

Tango on Radio

he singer Rosita Quiroga recalled: «I was the first soloist performer that appeared on radio. We were paid with cups of coffee». And Charlo added: «With Rosita Quiroga we used to strike the official hour, she handled a frying pan and I hit it with a large spoon». We can also say that, for example on Radio Nacional (later Belgrano) Rosita herself was the cook as well; her ravioli were famous, the aforementioned Charlo, Azucena Maizani, José Bohr and other pioneers of that time ate them. People say that it was usual to see her going to the microphone hurriedly cleaning her hands full of flour on her apron, a thing that, of course, the listeners ignored. Those were the early days of an adventure called radio...

A little before these events -that today make us laugh but that then were everyday stuff- happened, the early broadcastings appeared. The one that was the forerunner was Radio Argentina (at the beginning, Sociedad Radio Argentina), started by Dr. Enrique Susini and three pals, who were called «los locos de la azotea» (the madmen of the flat roof), with the broadcasting of Wagner's Parsifal from the Teatro Coliseo.

Next came Radio Cultura, before whose mikes used to appear Rosita Quiroga, Luis Díaz, José Bohr and Mario Pardo with their voices, or Adolfo Rafael Avilés, Próspero Cimaglia and Elio Rietti with their instruments, or Francisco Canaro, Juan Maglio (Pacho), Domingo Santa Cruz, Roberto Firpo and Osvaldo Fresedo with their batons.
As well there followed, between the '20s and '30s, Radio Prieto, Nacional, Brusa, América, T.F.F., Cine París (radio station of the movie-theater with the same name), Bernotti, Mayo, Telefunken Service, Federal, La Voz del Aire, Fénix, Callao, Stentor, La Abuelita, Grand Splendid Théatre, Del Pueblo, Porteña, Rivadavia and other broadcastings, as they were known with the English word then.

When the times of the galena were already forgotten, 1932 meant the start of the curious broadcasts of Carlos Gardel made from abroad, when three local stations retransmitted his performance on Radio Colonial of Paris on May 25. Later, on March 5 1934, the Zorzal sang from the NBC (National Broadcasting Company) of New York, accompanied by his guitarists Barbieri, Riverol and Vivas —with the help of headphones—, from the studios of Radio Rivadavia in Buenos Aires, even though it was aired by Splendid.

On August 17, the experience was repeated on the same radio and, finally, on March 15 1935, Belgrano transmitted it once more from the same city. In that latter year, and after the death of the singer, Radio Callao aired the first program devoted exclusively to his memory, emceed by Carlos Enrique Cerchetti, later taken over by Julio Jorge Nelson, as «El bronce que sonríe» (The bronze that smiles). Nelson himself began El éxito de cada orquesta (The hit of each orchestra) on the same radio station, switched later to Mitre and subsequently to Rivadavia.

In 1933 «the most popular of the "acuarelistas porteños"» (commentators), Lopecito (Juan Francisco López) offered his voice to radio. In 1937 he started his quite long cycle De Villoldo a Gardel, then followed Esquinas porteñas and, among others, Tanguerísima, the last of his programs on Radio Atlántida of Mar del Plata.

In 1934 the unbridled boom of radio made the forerunner of sound movies, Eduardo Morera, shoot Ídolos de la radio with Ada Falcón and Ignacio Corsini. Soon specialized magazines such as Radio Cultura, Radio Revista, Micrófono, Radiolandia (formerly La Canción Moderna), Sintonía, Antena and others sprang up.

1935 was the witness of the birth of Radio El Mundo and, around the same time, appeared the names that -together with some of the above mentioned-, were bound to last, like Excelsior (formerly Brusa), Belgrano (ex-Nacional), Municipal, Antártida (previously Fénix), Splendid (ex-Grand Splendid Théatre), Rivadavia (formerly Radio Muebles Díaz), etc.

Meanwhile, on Nacional, Stentor and Fénix, an important tango program was successively aired: Tangos, autores e intérpretes, emceed by HéctorBates and Luis Bates. They interviewed major figures of the genre and with this material they released the book La historia del tango in 1936.

The programs especially devoted to the genre are, from the beginning up to nowadays, a large number and some of them have always remained in the popular memory, such as Ronda de ases, Grandes valores del tango or the Glostora tango club.

Others, very popular as well, were emceed by Roberto Giménez (Mano a mano con el tango), Antonio Cantó (Mundo de tango), Raúl Moyano (Música de Buenos Aires), Jorge Serrano «Serranito» (El tango y sus estrellas), Alberto Palazón (Tangos... ¡y qué tangos!), Lito Bayardo (Ídolos del tango), Esteban Decoral Toselli (Sábados argentinos), Josecito Pace (Alma de tango), Roberto Cassinelli y Raúl Outeda (Gente de tango, La hora del tango), Alejandro Romay (Lluvia de estrellas), Juan Zucchelli (El tango y sus ases), Francisco Ducca (Tiempos viejos), Osvaldo Martín (Una cita con el tango), Saúl del Cerro (Sabor a tango), Oscar Julio Vidal (Recordando al Ruiseñor), Tito Sobral (Estampas de antaño), Alberto Zabalza (Voces de mi ciudad y Ronda de orquestas), Odín Fleitas (Hoy juega el seleccionado del tango), Julio César Marini (Un tango y dos palabras), Alcira Musa (Y el pueblo no los olvida), Francisco García Jiménez (El tango, historia de medio siglo), Roberto Carde (Ronda de estrellas), Julián Centeya (Por estas calles del tango, En una esquina cualquiera, La mesa cuadrada del tango y Desde una esquina sin tiempo), Roberto Tarzi (Esquinas de tango), Jorge Vilela (Por las veredas de Alsina), Hugo Campos (Esencia de tango), Luis Dalessio (Trasnoche de tango), Lidia Sánchez (Los tangos de Buenos Aires), Juan Carlos La Madrid (Tango y jazz, mellizos de América), Luis Adolfo Sierra (Nuestro tango es así), Roberto González Rivero «Riverito» (En cada país un tango), Héctor Negro (Buenos Aires Tango), Oscar del Priore (A través del tango), Alberto Príncipe (Los viejos tangos del 40), Lionel Godoy (La noche con amigos), Néstor Pinsón (Siempre el tango), Felipe Yofre (¿Dónde te encuentro, tango?), Norberto Malbrán (Recorriendo con tangos el país), Silvio Soldán (Soldán esquina tango), Jorge Bocacci (Bocacci a tango limpio), and many others.

Even though the Sunday dancing sessions, the micro programs of Juancito Díaz, the driving bandoneon played by Pichuco on Con T de Troilo or the voice of the outskirts, Alberto Castillo, in the Audición Federal program are today only a memory, tango and radio are still, in a way, synonyms.

Originally published in the fascicle 28 of the collection Tango Nuestro released by Diario Popular.