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THE STORY OF RADIO BROGNATURO

Author: Francesco Procopio (Checco)
Translation by Carmela Tucci

 
The site of Radio Brognaturo International
Picture courtesy of Bruno Zangari

It pleases me that Cosimo Rizzo reminded us of Radio Brognaturo.  I do not recall the exact year in which we began the transmissions, but I believe it was in 1977 or 1978.  At that time there was something in the air that was different and perhaps irrepeatable in Brognaturo.  After many attempts we succeeded to create a "club" with a stable location in the house which belonged to the grandparents of Benito Salerno.  We transformed the house into a discoteque.  We used many empty cardboard egg containers on the walls  to  sound proof the room.  There was a ping- pong table on the main floor, which occasionally could accommodate twenty people for lunch or supper.  The facility was used as a discoteque on Sunday afternoons.  Almost all of the girls in the village participated and attended the dances. Every other day of the week we met to talk or just to joke around. 

The club had two exits, one on XX September Street  and another on Rosary Street, this guaranteed a comfortable escape for the girls when some of their parents came looking for one of them.The parents  were not exactly happy with the idea of the disco.  Ernesto Zangari came up with the idea for the Radio station.  He  had found a transmitter with an incredible  half KW of power. In practice it was a microphone secured on a wooden box as big as a shoe box with the modulator FM inside.  The radio station site was located on Rosary Street in a small house next door to the house which belonged  to Pino and Mimmo Pupo.  This house also faced the homes  of Nicola Garcea and Totò Miletta.  If I remember correctly,  the house belonged to Nino Salerno. 

The transmission power of our station would reach the "Curve of the Survara" and to the first houses of Simbario.  We decided to call it "Radio Brognaturo International".  Every so often it interfered with the radio frequency of the Police and this  worried us.  Before going on the air we would load the records onto the record player and then move the microphone with the transmitter in the box closer.  When the DJ had to speak,  it  was necessary to move all the boxes and carry the microphone to the DJ, so he could place the microphone near his mouth, as a result, we could hardly hear the music anymore. 

To avoid too many movements and to speak simultaneous with the music in the background, it was necessary to insert our head between the microphone and the loudspeakers of the stereo and then lower the volume of the music.  The announcers transformed into sound technicians when they were not on the air… that is to say we helped to move the microphone,  lowered the volume, moved the tape cassettes  and set up the records.

 

For a moment try to imagine this scene … I can assure you, however, that we all took this very serious.  Our only worry was to ensure that things did not fall, above all, the precious box with the transmitter and the microphone.  The the transmitter antenna was bound to a broomstick and affixed to a piece of overhanging beam which protruded from the wall of the  facade of the house, which was  in the same proximity of the roof.

 

Since we did not have a telephone, the dedications were requested by means of paper notes (bigliettini).   These were delivered by children and slipped under the door so that people making the requests remained anonymous.  In order not to be recognized, individuals making dedications made up names or used animals names.  During that period Brognaturo seemed to have  become a zoo.  The classic dedications were of this type:  "From someone with the red Fiat 127 to  “she knows who she is" or "Even if your not interested in me, I love you just the same". 

 

Everyone, in the village listened to our radio station.  Gianni of Rullu had a radio in his bar that was always tuned to our radio station.  All the announcers had a different radio program (mine was called Music Sprint) but since we did not have too many records we always played the same music. 

I don’t remember everyone who had their own radio  program, however, surely in additon to me, there was Peppe Scaccia, Benito, Cosimo Rizzo, I also think Nicola Tucci and Ernesto had their own programs. 

 

Ernesto Zangari was the director and proprietor of the Radio Station.  He would always interrupt our programs to send his personal dedications, and this would anger the announcers  I  myself  remember that on  a particular day while I was presenting a special on Italian singers and songwriters, Ernesto  wanted me to play a tarantella for one of his friend who had came back from abroad.

 

We had an argument and I decided not to be a radio announcer anymore.  After so many years, just thinking about it again, I am still sorry still today, for not having played that song. 

 

However, a few days after the argument – and about after three months of activity – our music box blew up in smoke...........It was the end of the transmissions and the end of Radio Brognaturo International.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 


Chronicle of a vacation announced

  

 

 

 

Story written by

CLAUDIO GILERA

 

This story is part of an online archive  penna d'autore (Premio Scriviamo Un Libro Insieme)

A special thank you to Claudio Gilera for letting us have it on our web site.

 

Chronicle of a vacation announced

 

I imagined myself already in some out-of-the-way angle of Tunisia, enjoying those immense desert spaces outlined with tropical palms that invite the inexperienced and naive tourist who doesn’t know local history to daydream on an improbable and enchanting world of desert robbers and sublime oasis, where tens of seductive native girls take care and transport you in a world of pleasure and lust when suddenly all went up in the air.  The usual last minute problems hindered the realization of my dream of a frustrated citizen longing to let go of everything and hide myself in an anonymous tropical island. 

It was this way that I begun my  umpteenth emergency vacation in a not very distant land called Calabria, where in a small and out-of-the-way village of the Calabrian Serre, in the middle of the Small Sila Mountains, there is nested what remains of my maternal relatives. Still a significant group of uncles, aunts and cousins that as soon as they learned of my arrival they can’t wait to question me as a way to find out things that could revitalize a place where time seems to stand still, and a little bit of gossip on the foreigner (true or assumed), has the capacity to give competition to the most modern gate keeper of Northern Italy. 

 So, this way at the beginning of August, I began to ponder the idea of passing some days with those distant relatives than I did not see now for more then four years.  I filled a thin suitcase only with the necessities for a short permanence in the land of the bandits. I packed the usual gifts for relatives that wait to see with manic anxiety if you remembered them.  I embarked on the mythical "Conca dOro train" that in 12 long and sleepless hours of journey catapulted me in a world that remained precisely the way I left it the last time I was there.  Twelve long hours of railroad tossing with my vacationer thoughts wondering about the list of things to do dictated from the iron rules of the protocol of relatives of the Deep South, where all would be turned precisely like in the passed visits.   

During the three hours preceding my arrival to the station of Lamezia Terme, a continuous vu of the Tyrrhenian Sea cost with his stony and wild beaches that melt themselves in a peaceful panorama dominated by cliffs, conveys me in a world of physical and mental well-being dictated from the unexpected work scarcity and the distance from that town with the American look and to the limit of the hysteria that goes by the name of Milan.  The train moves inland for a little bit and speed up on a hill field, where a countrywoman from the face tanned and marked from the hard work under a not always favourable sky, stands up to look at the train that without warning travels like a rocket through her small property and her for nothing annoyed of such intrusion, waves her hand at people like me that returns to its origins, a greeting that almost wants to say to you:  "Welcome to my land that I hope is also yours in your short permanence". 

 The elderly woman appears more and more distant and I feel strangely happy of this unexpected greeting in a place where the foreigner, whether he likes it or not, becomes wrapped and cuddled from an indescribable desire of moving here for ever, distant from the jungle of apartments and urban offices where people forget the fundamental rules of living together, only thinking about themselves as for the rule of a hypocritical and indidualistic society.  So, more tried from the waiting of being in this land that I feel closer and closer, I arrive to the mythical goal of Lamezia Terme, where one of my cousins, hired by my aunt Triestina, is waiting to take me at the little village up in the mountains at nine hundred meters above sea level.  From the plain of Lamezia we begin to travel kilometres of land from a typical burnt yellow color. I regret the fact that my aunt did not come to welcome me at the train station, like they usually do here in the south. As she gets older, she begins to feel it. However, I will have all of the time that I will want to enjoy of her simple but determined person. 

 We finally arrive to Brognaturo, this small jewel of the Serre Calabre and not even out of the small Fiat, I foresee my mythical aunt, who, from the small balcony of her house, salutes me with a shy but decorous waving of her hand, making me remember the elderly countrywoman that a few  hours earlier welcomed me in this land.  Nothing has changed at her house. Every thing is precisely like I had seen it at least twenty years ago.  Only the things that are necessary to live with dignity and nothing else.  If unintentionally I ask why she does not have a certain thing, she answer’s me “what do I need it for. With that typical countrywoman simplicity, she puts in me the doubt that half of what it is found in my apartment could be calmly thrown out of the window because it is useless to the normal way of the daily life.  I tell myself that it is all true and I plan to eliminate things for real once I get back home because those thing that are supposed to make life simpler they make it more difficult until exasperation. 

 As per custom, within an hour, almost all of my relatives in this small village came to visit me almost in procession like giving me the impression of being like a divinity that rarely appears to his followers. A custom that almost moves me because is like they alleviate me of the of the heavy burden of having to go around the whole village to greet them all a long and tiring trip.  And so, one after another, I see faces that I know, that the time changed very little or those of young cousins whose faces change rapidly like the dunes of sand in the desert, remembering that the time does not respect no one.  "Does he have a girlfriend”?  Someone asks my aunt, not remembering that I understand perfectly the dialect.  Certainly that he has it! She proudly answers after been updated by me on the last developments of my sentimental life that in a short time could bring me to the altar. 

 And so, like the drum in the jungle, the news of my engagement is scattered around among relatives and simple acquaintances who let the excitement and happiness of the good news take over in the community of this small village. They all congratulate me as they smile and try (in vain) to invite me, for a day, at their home for lunch.  All this simplicity and desire to live delight me in a way that in Milan I have never experienced. It is a place where any thing that is done is almost due to the society and therefore not an occasion to be able to be together with a loved one.  Patience for now I am on vacation and I have no intention of loosing not even one minute of these emotions that in Lombardia they wood have been from science fiction. 

"Are you staying for the festa?" someone wonders without fail. Someone who believes that the vacations are still four weeks long like during the seventies, when we could really enjoy the places in which we stayed. To spit, now, your fifteen days of deserved rest do not give you not even the time to take a breath that you have to immediately return to the office to report to the chief in the name of the "Productive Business Diagram ", as it is today defined. The Program says that two weeks is enough of a summer vacation to eliminate the stress and the hatred towards your boss and to return fresh and joyous as if the last eleven months have never existed. 

 But lets talk about the "festa" : here, the festa is referring to the celebration of Holy Mary of the Consolation, that the first Sunday of September of every year  recalls crowds of  faithful longing to enter the small eighteenth-century church where, from the dawn until late evening, are taking place religious functions, recording always everything jam-packed!  It is a day of typical celebration of the south, in which the whole village is recruited to make work the religious complex and folk gears of this long-awaited day.  So, wandering around the village, we’ll bump in front of the statue of the Madonna, carried on shoulders of the usual local strong boys, and tens of godmothers will meet while doing the shuttle between house and church to ensure that in the small sanctuary everything works properly.  And I,  a little exhausted  from the fact of not being able to assist at this great work to  which  all of the village contributes like everyone is able to, almost regret not to have all this  religious belief that unites them every time the necessity of life ask for it. 

Meanwhile, between one lunch and another and between a chat and a glass of nocino I think myself for having chosen this short but healthy familiar vacation, even if it is developing precisely how forecast.  But it does not displeases me; in an indeterminate tourist village of the Tunisia, I would have met someone from Milan that, relentlessly, would have deviated the speech on the work to him very important, ruining my little moments in which the politics of the business should have stayed distant light years from my private life.  Here, instead, I re-live all those emotions that should be part of everyday life, just like our daily bread on our tables: the lost sense of community, the thin religiousness that accompanies in their daily life this people, simple and honest like all the country community know how to be.  An inner and spontaneous generosity and an altruism that would slacken to open mouth any local Yankee.  So, I enjoy myself to the end, the life of this village that between positive appearance, inconsistencies and a pinch of provincialism, makes me regret to have to board that airplane that will take me at home, away from my people of the south. 

  

Copyright © 1995

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

E-mail: info@brognaturoonline.com

 

 

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