If you’ve ever worked in radio, you’ll know that it helps to be a little crazy: the long hours, the low pay, the nutty co-workers. Then there’s the matter of the work itself. Being an announcer involves sitting in a sealed room talking to yourself, something that is normally considered a little odd. You can’t see or hear your audience, so you have no idea if what you’re saying is having any impact; there’s no real time feedback. And you have to do this live.
I especially feel for morning shows. They’re expected to be funny and entertaining and topical and opinionated for four or five hours a day, five days a week. Live. After getting up at 3 in the morning. And 99% of them most have to do it without the benefit of a staff of writers.
Being on the radio–and being good–is hard work. And like I said, it helps if you’re a little crazy. But maybe not this crazy: a radio station that broadcasts from the courtyard of a psychiatric hospital. Being on the air is part of the patients’ therapy. This is from Counterpunch.org
Antonio Peralta, known to listeners as exageradamente loco, or “extremely crazy,” is a well-known radio personality in Argentina where a radio show is heard by 12 million people. But his studio is hardly conventional: He broadcasts from the courtyard of Buenos Aires’s largest psychiatric hospital.
On the air with are also colleagues –other patients– who read news headlines and poems, sing tangos and conduct interviews inside and outside Dr. José T. Borda Hospital. That is where Antonio Peralta, a tall man with long hair and a pleasant smile, hosts an innovative program on mental patients’ legal rights.
They work for “Radio La Colifata” — slang for “Loony Radio,” and they all are patients who do the weekly show as part of their therapy. It is the first radio program in the world to broadcast from inside a psychiatric hospital, according to the Pan American Health Organization.
“Loony Radio” is one of Argentina’s most popular radio programs. Broadcast on 58 stations from cold Tierra del Fuego to trendy Buenos Aires it reaches 12 million listeners who tune in for something out of the ordinary.
During its 23-year existence, the show has managed to stay popular, a remarkable achievement in a nation that has undergone profound economic and social changes over the past two decades. “Loony Radio” has been copied elsewhere in Argentina as well as in Uruguay, Chile, Germany and Spain, and it has won several local and international awards, including a special cultural citation from Argentina’s National Congress in 1997.
Maria Lopez Geist, a Buenos Aires psychiatrist said, “‘Loony Radio’ demystifies the idea that a person with a mental health problem cannot have effective participation in society. Most important for the patients themselves, the show offers a unique therapy that provides contact with the world and eliminates their isolation.”