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Radio Cora

By Carl Huffaker

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The following item is taken from page 74-76 of the book Carl Huffaker's Latin Notebooks as originally published by SPEEDX. This book is a collection of Carl's columns in the SPEEDX magazine between 1986 and 1991. It is placed here with permission of SPEEDX.

NOVEMBER 1991

Except for Radio Tezulutlan, which is in nearby Guatemala and feeding a late-design "tropical band" antenna from a refurbished transmitter, Radio Cora del Peru, both mornings and evenings, and through the cycle of seasons, is by far the best signal in the 60-meter band. It's a relatively new station, religious although not evangelical, not educational but cultural because its staff is the Castilian-speaking educated group characteristic of the Capitol. Yet its target area is not Lima but the sprawling slums, the remote Andean villages, and the world beyond, an across-cultures communication that they somehow accomplish without talking down.

Back in May, the following item appeared in Al Quaglieri's Shortwave Online Digest:

PERU: 4915 Radio Cora del Peru. Just signing on at 1051 with Peruvian Anthem to 1053, then rooster crowed followed by Man with prayer. Vocal from 1055 1058, then Man talk and Woman talk at 1059 -followed by brief music, then W with ID and freq. info then ID "Radio Cora del Peru" then Man talk. Another ID at 1105. (Note: WRTH 91 shows them signing on at 0930). Heard on April 20. (Bruce MacGibbon)

Being an ex-Oregonian myself, I've always admired Bruce. He's one of our best DXers, prolific both in reports and publication, but maybe he was moving too fast to give Radio Cora the attention it needed. Radio Cora always has, and still does, sign on 4915 Khz at 09:30 UTC. The program is Peruvian music with short "Soy Cora" ID's and an occasional time check. As sort of a sign-on formality, the sexy-voiced YL adds "...dcl Peru" to the first "Soy Cora." At 10:50, which is just before 6:00 AM local time, there is a formal sign-on starting with the National Anthem. In much of Latin America, the legal broadcast day starts at 6:00 AM, and at this time Radio Cora's mediumwave transmitter joins the 4915 kHz outlet.

This was followed by a brief announcement, "Here starts the edition of the noticias." (Noticias, in this case, refers to personal announcements.) The noticias start with a prayer. (This is a rough translation of the August 8th prayer.)

"Let us pray. Seņor, our prayer today is for the Peruvian family, especially the humble family, the poor family. Now in these moments of crisis they can't find the way to multiply the little money that they receive to pay their expenses. Especially, Seņor, receive my plea for the mothers, for they are the women who must support the blows that come from bills for the light, the water, the cost of food, the rent, and still have something left over to support the children or the husband. These are the shocks that incapacitate the Peruvian family. Unify them to support this evil. Help especially the humble homes, Holy Father. I ask this in Your Son's name. Amen."

This was followed by a hymn.

In Latin America, especially in the capitolina culture, you say "buenos dias" to everyone the first time you see them every day. In the family, when it gets a little redundant, you sometimes say "Buenos dias por la mahana." Immediately after the hymn, the announcer returned with "Seņoritas, buenos dias. Buenos dias Seņoras y Seņores," and continued. This was an unusual structure to start a broadcast, and when I replayed the tape I realized that the young ladies were there in the studio, on the other side of the glass. Cora, I know, was there in person, as she'd given the time checks on the earlier program, and the other girl appeared later to announce the time as 6:00 AM.

After greeting first the girls and then the more distant radio audience, the announcer continued to his listeners...

How are you? How do you feel? You're worried, Seņora, no? Worried thinking about the situation of the mothers and the many times in Peru when they face the mountains of problems that they have. And you worry about when the fathers, the humble fathers, will improve to better confront the situation of Peruvian life. Courage, courage, courage, Seņora, courage, Seņor. I pray that God will help and console you. Don't let your courage fade. Good fortune for everyone. I'm pleased to greet you at 6:00 in the morning.

Then the young lady--she sounds a bit like a child--came on with, "Buenos dias. It's 6:00 in the morning. We've come to 6:00 in the morning." (The idiom which translates roughly as "we've come to..." is not used in Mexico.)

The taped 1D started with a brief musical break, then, "Radio Cora de Peru de la Compania Radiofonica Lima, Sociedad Anomina. Onda media OA... (this part of the tape's garbled) ... 4915 kHz banda tropical de 60 metros transmite desde Lima, Capitol dc Peru, Sud America."

Then came a series of personal messages, each starting with "Atencion." They contrasted strangely with the personal messages on the early morning broadcasts from stations in the Amazon basin. In summary: "Your daughter is well," "All your children are well," "Don't worry," "There's an urgent letter on its way," "Muchas saludos." The cholera epidemic centered in Lima, that is, in the outskirts of Lima, and the messages reflect not only the medical situation but the fact that the families are broken with the fathers apart. The prayer and religious message confirm as much but leave one to speculate as to why the men remain, or have gone to the distant villages.

I've done a lot of speculation to give meaning to a brief bit of a radio broadcast. Correctly or incorrectly, it makes little difference if I've interested someone in doing more than listening for an ID. "It's 6:00 in the morning. We've corne to 6:00 in the morning." Is it simple exuberance at having survived the night, or is it a readiness to create a future? Tune Peru's real life soap opera to find out.

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