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MAY 4th to MAY 10th 2007

Costa del Sol News
Sun Radio calling
Foreigners’ association in Nerja is promoting international culture on Radio Sol Almijara

The music is jazz and the voice is soft and mellifluous, just like thousands of other radio presenters all over the world. But this radio station is different. The presenter is German Dagmar Ritter, living in Frigiliana, and the interviewee is the representative of a bodega in Granada who produces wines in an ecological way. This is Radio Sol Almijara, founded by the association of the same name and aimed at informing and entertaining the large international community now living in the Nerja area, with the emphasis on free speech.

Radio Sol Almijara, on 99.1 FM, is just one more activity by the cultural association of the same name, whose primary purpose is to promote understanding between nationalities and communities through educational, social and artistic activities.

The station has been on the air for the past four and a half years, sending out a sophisticated mixture of music, information and interviews, all suitable for family listening. Radio headquarters is
a smallish apartment in Nerja, and the equipment used is certainly not the latest generation, but the sound is something the people of the region have come to love, and they keep tuning in.

Modest premises

This is a radio station run by a small group of people who may lack the specialised training of top professionals in the business, but their very lack of professionalism is, perhaps, one of their strengths. While most foreign radio stations operate exclusively through English, Radio Sol Almijara uses the other principal languages spoken by visitors to the region and foreign residents: French, German and Spanish. The philosophy of the group becomes evident on entering the apartment, when one looks out through the single studio window and see the blue Mediterranean stretching over the horizon.

Different languages

Belgian Norbert Barnich, one of the founders of the station and technical guru, sums it up to perfection: “Our use of different languages means that we are attempting to avoid the pitfall of setting up a Little England here. Instead, we try to integrate the resident foreigners of all nationalities into the community, and not push the Anglo-Saxon culture on the people who live here.”

The so-called Britpop style is avoided, while jazz, classical music and folk music from different parts of the world is the basic fare instead.

“Not everybody wants to hear the same songs being played on the radio every day,” says Paula A. Anthony, an English doctor who works as co-ordinator for the radio station. She presents a weekly magazine programme in which she interviews artists, musicians, doctors and anybody else of local interest.

Popular Spanish music is played on Saturday afternoons, with explanations on its style and content given for those not familiar with it. Norbert believes that their listeners demand news and information as well, since they have chosen to live in the area and wish to know more about it.

Both Nobert and Paula believe that foreign residents are now integrating more than in the past, and have nothing but praise for initiatives such as the musical, theatrical and film performances mounted in the Villa de Nerja Cultural Centre in both Spanish and English.

“The problem is that many foreigners who come to live here are quite old, and it is very difficult to learn a second language or integrate into a new culture in old age,” says Noberto.

Radio Sol Almijara is not a big business, and makes no effort to attract big advertisers or investors.
As an association, it has a financial agreement with the local Town Hall, and is attempting to establish links also with the Torrox Town Hall.

Coverage is now limited to parts of the Granada coast, Nerja, Frigiliana and Torrox, but attempts are being made to extend westwards. There are few advertisements on this radio station, and those that are produced are done in a humourous way for the sponsors.

The team of approximately twelve people who work here are unpaid, and present programmes without the pressure of having to please advertisers. Most have backgrounds in design, cinema or teaching, and what they now know about radio is self-taught.

The listeners seem to care little about the professionalism of the presenters and technicians. About 5,000 people tune in every day, and they love their local radio station just as it is.

Linked to the BBC and World Radio Network

The listeners of Radio Sol Almijara (RSA) are generally older people who have travelled, of many different nationalities and with many different interests, and for this reason, they demand interesting and stimulating programming. Apart from interviews and music, the station has links with the BBC and the World Radio Network.

This means that international news is adequately covered, and along with the local news coverage provided by the radio station, the international listeners are well catered to.

RSA is the first truly international radio station in Andalucía, and is currently awaiting a decision by the Junta de Andalucía to officially recognise them as a cultural non-profit-making entity.

All are welcome to express their views on the radio, and to make programming suggestions and offer new ideas. As the people who run the station tell us: “This is a radio station that aims to stimulate the mind and raise the spirits.”

ref: courtesy of: Article in Sur in English