I must admit, I never was a loyal listener of Radio Beethoven. Probably most Chileans weren’t, but nevertheless we were all very aware of its existence. Radio Beethoven was not only the most important sponsor for music arts activities among youth in Chile. Radio Beethoven was, really, a true shining star in the Chilean FM spectrum. If you were a FM listener in Chile, you were aware about Radio Beethoven. Surfing the FM spectrum in Chile was a monotonous and often boring thing to do. A lot of pop music radios, lots of talk shows, news radios, reggaeton and tropical stuff for the youth. The menu was always kind of similar. But when you went with the tuner over 96.5 MHz of the modulated frequency in your device… it sounded different. Even if you didn’t like it, Radio Beethoven shone with the strength of its own light in the dial.
You knew that it was the door to another universe, to the which you always had the possibility to escape, even for just a moment. A universe inhabited not by the boring voice of a radio speaker sending greetings to someone’s neighbour, and not by the tropical beats of a youth program. Dialling 96.5 MHz in your radio was letting the strength of Beethoven, the magic of Strauss or the inexplicable beauty of Mozart breaking into your house.
It is with great grief that I must end the story of Radio Beethoven telling you that today, 30th of November of 2019, in approximately 10 more hours (24:00 in Chile), Radio Beethoven will end broadcasting on the air. The controlling group, after facing several problems funding the radio, decided to sell the radio frequency. Because of the intensity of the masterpiece, as well as because of the style of the radio, Radio Beethoven had decided to say goodbye this night with the 9th Symphony of Beethoven performed by a Chilean orchestra.
More than thirty years of Neoliberal policies governing agreements among Chileans not only caused the current social uprising, demanding a new “social agreement” which now is pushing forward the project of a new Constitution, but also penetrated deeply in Chilean culture and “way of being”. There is no place for permanent funding of a well conducted long term policy for art and culture development in a neoliberal conception of state.
Instead of beginning an extensive thesis of why and how neoliberal conception of society impacts Chilean culture, let me just tell you the history about an icon of culture broadcasting in Chile: Radio Beethoven.