Do you still listen to the radio? The liberating pleasure of letting yourself be carried away by chance in times of à la carte culture | Culture

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The writer Javier Montes.Diego Burbano

“Do you still listen to the radio?” Of so many times that his friends asked him this question, Javier Montes (Madrid, 47 years old) decided to analyze what what, for some, is a spectrum that has remained in the past, contributed to him. Surrounded by shelves full of books in his bright apartment in the center of the capital, he admits that, like every writer, he suffers from the anxiety of archiving everything. He came to the conclusion that this device has helped him get away from her at times. “It’s how I enjoy the liberating feeling of being exposed to the randomness of what you didn’t know existed, or that you were interested in, or that you were looking for,” he says on an afternoon in mid-March. Therefore, he claims it in The radio onone of the New Anagram Notebooks with which the publishing house has recovered the assault text in the last seven years, short publications of about one hundred pages with which several authors analyzed current affairs in the seventies.

Montes values ​​the radio broadcast “even when it is heard in the background instead of being listened to,” as it helps him to abandon himself to surprise in times of FOMO (acronym in English). fear of missing out: fear of missing out, in Spanish), in which users consume podcasts (like series and movies) played at double speed to be able to accumulate more in the same time. In his writing, the radio is a door that opens to the unexpected due to the massive arrival of recorded and on-demand content. But, he assures, he does not try to confront both sound media with it. “They are not enemies, although they do feed two different ways of being in the world. “Efficiency and storage versus unpredictability and unrecoverability,” he points out. “I prefer the radio because it is not edited. He podcast It usually eliminates pause and doubt. It feeds an ethic of making the most of time that is very Anglo-Saxon, very Protestant, and that sometimes causes me rejection,” he continues. “I like the time lost, that the announcers make mistakes and retrace their steps.”

The man from Madrid wakes up every morning with the newsletters, which for him means “a sound coffee” and a “window to the world that combines the intimate and the universal.” In his day, it was a symbol of his emancipation and his leap into adulthood; “That moment when you start to have control of electronic devices,” he says. A transistor became one of the most important elements of what was, 25 years ago, his first house, when he left his parents’ house. It was in Santiago de Compostela, a place where it rained so much that he spent entire days without going out. Furthermore, that meeting coincided with the moment in which he began to write. For Montes, it was “the equalizer of leisure time, the breaks between long sessions in front of the blank page. “It structured the solitary, neurotic and somewhat monotonous existence of someone who lives by writing.”

With the radio, Montes enjoys the simultaneity of what is happening instead of what has already happened, because it offers another type of company, he explains: “In the digital environment, the concept of loneliness and company is played with, in social networks. , dating apps, messaging services… but it is a compulsive search for company, which intensifies the feeling of loneliness and even leads to anxiety and depression. The radio is like getting hooked on a fluid that you cannot stop in time, like the flow of a river.”

Powerful images

In The radio on, remember that it was the element that represented the only contact that Anne Frank had with the outside world while she remained hidden with her family. And it was the medium that the philosopher Walter Benjamin envisioned as an imaginary common homeland, made of a multitude of voices and silences. It has also been my own and other people’s inspiration. In Jean Coucteau’s cinematographic revision of the myth of Orpheus, at the end of the forties, the radio appeared as a connecting thread between the protagonist and the muses. The stories emanating from its waves have also been seminal for some of Montes’ novels. She conceived some of the ideas of Second part (Pretexts) when one night he heard the testimony of a listener who had a museum in her house in Barcelona with memorabilia of actress Vivien Leigh that she had been collecting all her life.

The pages of his book serve to defend the paradox that the listener (or listener), like the reader, enjoys more powerful images than those of a spectator in front of a screen, “because he constructs them from his imagination and not only from the look,” he argues.

One of those announcers who enjoys rambling is Rodolfo Poveda, in Utopian Tropic (Radio 3), specialized in a very specific musical genre. “More than giving a master class with perfect sound effects, Poveda talks, takes up ideas, hums a song…”, celebrates the writer. The gradual change that the RNE station dedicated to independent culture has undergone, in which many of “those human algorithms” that were its professionals have been replaced by more conventional options, makes the writer miss in Spain “a culture of public radio like that of the United Kingdom.”

-If I made a podcasthow would it be?

—I would prefer to do a radio program; knowing that when you speak someone is already listening to you.

—Well, what radio program would you do?

—I would like a night one, what they call the cemetery shift, one of those that deals with a little bit of everything and nothing, with calls from listeners who I would let talk for hours, because you wouldn’t know when the next one was going to call. And with music that I liked. I would interview whoever was willing to do it live in the early morning.

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