Atlantic Archives: Radio Africa FM Transmitting From Brazil to the Diaspora

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A small three-man team in Salvador, Bahia uses the radio waves to connect Black people throughout the diaspora through the roots and branches of African music.

In our increasingly connected world, the Black culture of Brazil can still often feel isolated in the diaspora. This is due in large part to the historically right-wing media hegemony, which has defined the country since the 1960s.

The media monopoly known as GrupoGlobo is the 19th largest media conglomerate in the world. According to the watchdog group, Media Ownership Monitor:

“Despite the vast regional diversity in the country and the continental dimensions of its territory, the four main media groups concentrate an exorbitant national audience – over 70% in the case of free-to-air television, the most popular media in the country.”

Producer, Lucio Magano joins me in a two-part discussion about how his music show, Radio Africa is a vehicle of resistance in the hegemonic media landscape that continues to dominate Brazil. 

Radio Africa was started in 2007 on the public broadcast network, Educadora FM. The network decided to dedicate airtime to musical genres with specific African connections.

The Radio Africa team is composed of DJ Sankofa (who had immigrated from Ghana a decade earlier), producer Roberto Barreto (cofounder of the band Baiana System), and researcher and musicologist, Lucio Magano

November marks their 14th year on air bringing African diaspora music to local, national, and now international audiences. 

Atlantic Archives: What did you all hope to accomplish when you created the show?

Lucio: We realized that although Brazilian music, and especially the music from Bahia, has a strong relationship with the legacy of African culture, African music was not known to the public. It didn’t even play on the radio.

Therefore, our main goals were to promote the exchange of musical, cultural content between Brazil and African countries; create a space for thinking, production, and radio creation in partnership with artists and institutions; contribute to the circulation of cultural content (audio, text, video) and collaborate to form networks between producers.

AA: What makes Radio Africa unique?

Lucio: We are the only FM radio show in Brazil that focuses exclusively on African music and culture. Radio Africa is part of the programming of Educadora FM 107.5 radio station, a public broadcaster in the state. Every Saturday at 3 pm (Brazilian time), the mission is to capture the beauty, richness, and variety of sounds of African music, both traditional and contemporary, providing the listener with a unique musical experience.

AA: Tell us about the format of the show. What do you offer the listeners?

Lucio: Bahia still knows very little about African music. Its artists. its trends. Its musical trajectories. With this in mind, Rádio África came up with the idea of ​​giving visibility to this universe by trying to describe the entire complexity of music from a continent that encompasses more than 50 independent nations with more than 800 languages. 

AA: That seems like a complex task to map all of these music pathways. 

Lucio: The profusion of migratory ebbs and flows is enormous inside and outside the continent. Not to mention the intricate network of interdependencies between the music of African descendants in the new world (such as hip-hop and R&B, which are now massively played on African radio), which are reprocessed generating new hybrid styles, such as those of artists like Angelique Kidjo, Davido, Seun Kuti, Mayra Andrade, Magic System, among others.

AA: It sounds like there is a strong educational component to your show. 

Lucio: We want to arouse and stimulate the curiosity of listeners through information about the process of musical production and protagonism. Also, we wanted to share factual aspects of both society and culture of African countries.” Therefore, a space is created where people think and can reconsider preconceived and unreal notions about the African continent. This will help to slowly deconstruct stereotyped narratives.

AA: You did graduate studies in the United States? You have a doctorate in Political Science and a Master’s in Psychology. How did this influence your approach to the radio program?

Lucio: I attended UCLA, where I  trained for research and teaching in the social sciences field. It was there that I developed abilities for critical analysis while learning about the social history of African-American music (Jazz, Funk, Soul R&B, Hip-Hop, Rock..)  The experience made me more capable of investigating Afro-Brazilian music as well as African music, and trace parallels among those musical traditions.

Part two continues next week.  In the meantime Tune into Radio Africa: https://radioafrica.minharadio.fm or you can listen to the program from anywhere in the world by downloading the “Educadora Play” app from the Google Play Store or App Store and also through the link:

https://educadoraplay.ba.gov.br/#/player

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