Coffee and Radio – with Valter Aguiar

Brazil is made up of 27 different states, in 15 of them there is great coffee activity, which goes from north to south of the country, but only in 7 states are 98% of production concentrated, these states are: Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo, São Paulo, Bahía, Rondônia, Goiás and Paraná.

The next meeting took place at the home of Dxers Valter Aguiar, he lives in the beautiful city of Curitiba, capital of the state of Paraná, cataloged by many Brazilians as the coldest capital in the country, so nothing better than drinking a good hot coffee .

The state of Paraná is undoubtedly a place where you can breathe coffee on every corner, there are many artisan coffee shops with exclusive coffees, for example one of them has all the excellence of the three-time Brazilian barista champion Leo Moço.

The FICAFÉ (International Fair of Specialty Coffee) is also held there.

Cover of Valter Aguiar’s book.

Coffee is the fifth most exported agro-industrial product by Brazil, generating more than six billion dollars. Its main markets are the United States, Germany, Italy, Japan and Belgium.

This coffee talk was the perfect excuse to interview Valter and talk about his most recent book called “O Rádio Internacional das Ondas Curtas à Internet”.

A book that goes from the invention of the radio, going through a complete description of the development of international radio stations throughout the 20th century, up to the present, with their subsequent migration to the Internet.

The book also contains a beautiful gallery showing 72 Qsl from Valter’s private collection of confirmations.

The book is available for purchase on the Amazon Brazil site, remembering that it is written in Portuguese, here is the link for those interested:

https://www.amazon.com.br/R%C3%A1dio-Internacional-Ondas-Curtas-Internet/dp/8560360883

You can also purchase a version in E-BOOK format at the following link:

https://macawpress.com/collections/editora-universitaria-leopoldianum/products/radio-internacional

This time Coffee and Radio brings you an interview with Valter Aguiar

Martin Butera and Valter Aguiar, holding the book, “O Rádio Internacional das Ondas Curtas à Internet”.

Here you can listen to the interview of approximately 30 minutes in Portuguese, then I leave a translation and adaptation:

MB: Valter, how did you start with radio, how did this become your passion?

When I was 15 years old, they gave me a short wave radio, which is the one we have here on the table, it only came with 31.41 and 49 meters, but well it was enough to awaken my passion, it is a radio that I keep a lot honey, because my mother gave it to me.

This once awake does not go away anymore, it is like a virus that has no cure (laughs)

MB: Do you remember which were those first radio stations that you listened to?

Yes, of course, I started listening to those that had service in Portuguese and Spanish, this was in the 80s, then there were really many services in Portuguese, I remember listening to Deutsche Welle, BBC, VOA, Mainland China (Rádio Pequim), I remember the time of the cold war, the radio of Moscow, entering my house with great power.

The Moscow radio, I remember that it broadcast 3 hours a day in Portuguese, it was a very good time, you could hear what everyone thought about what was happening in the world.

MB: Did they listen at home too, or was it just you alone?

If this ends up infecting everyone a little, personally this was increasing and one begins to want to have contact with the stations, there was something called letters that no one uses today (laughs) …

Through the radios one began to get to know the Brazilian radio listening clubs, at the time I remember that there was the DX Paulista club, which today ended up being the DX Club of Brazil, I also remember the Globo DX, which no longer exists.

MB: And when you were young, what was the radio station that most identified with you?

Well with this radio that we have here on the table, I listened to the BBC, but there were also a lot of good radios like Deutsche Welle, Radio Nederland, I think those 3 were fundamental, also VOA (Voice of America), I remember the program about DX, which they transmitted, that is, there were several that marked me.

MB: Do you remember the first time your name was read on a radio, when you read a letter, what did you feel?

If I remember the first letter I sent, it was for Radio Nederland, which never received the answer by Brazilian mail, but I do remember to send the first reception report to them.

Radio Nederland at that time, had a program called “the world of communications” and taught how to make reception reports and precisely my first report was for that program, I remember listening when they read it on the air, now the qsl never came (laughs) …

MB: Many Dxers tell me about Radio Nederland, I think that teaching a reception report to assemble antennas was very good, don’t you think?

If they really were very good and they weren’t that big, they had about 7 languages programmed in total and 3 broadcasting stations in very strategic locations, but making a difference for the content that the radio produced, it was really captivating.

So whoever you ask about Radio Nederland will always have good memories. They did not have the resources of the big radio stations, but it was a job very well done and it affected our generation a lot, including the one that came later as well.

MB: And where do you start to make the leap, I mean this radio that you brought to the table today and I am very grateful because it is a very important symbol in your life, to listen with other more complete receivers and better antennas?

If of course this radio was small and then other radio stations with more bands arrived, then a digital radio, I remember the famous Sony Icf 2001 radio, then also a Sony Sw 7600 radio, the truth is speaking of the latter my Sony 7600 must now be with depression, it is a bit forgotten (laughs) … is that after the broadcasts in Portuguese and Spanish began to disappear, I no longer listen to much.

Actually I contradict myself I listen to a lot of radio, but not so much shortwave anymore.

MB: Did you also like to listen to the stations in the original language?

If I liked it, I listened in English, because there really was a difference.

MB: Do you consider yourself a DXsist, do you collect QSLs for example?

If I collect enough, in my book there are several pages with photos of my QSLs.

MB: Do you keep track of confirmed countries?

If I think I should have about 123, there are many here in my book.

MB: Which of those cards do you keep with the most memories or was the most special?

Well, they all have a very historical character, the QSL of Radio Santa Helena that is in the book, for example, that of RAE (International Service of the Argentine Republic), which is a confirmation of the time of the Falklands war, those of Radio Free Europe, from the Soviet Union, the QSL of Radio Central de Moscow and Radio Paz y Progreso, in my book if you see well I put them together, because that is what was good about short wave had both sides of the story.

I have many, they are all important, Radio Libya, Radio Kuwait, Radio Kol from Israel in Portuguese, in short there are many …

Front of the classic QSL of one of the most remote islands on the planet, Saint Helena, in the South Atlantic

MB: And are you still passionate about receiving or sending QSLs?

Not today anymore.

MB: And did you perform DXing in other modes for example in FM and medium wave?

FM a little, medium wave almost nothing, really where I was in short wave.

MB: Did you become a monitor for some radios from Brazil?

Yes, I participated as a monitor for the Nederland, BBC and Deutsche Welle radio stations.

MB: In your book, with the internet is there like a break for the radio?

If I first tell how radio was invented, then how short waves developed, for example in the Second World War and in the Cold War, then I went on to tell the migration of radios to the Internet and state in detail what was the destination of each of them.

For example, there are radios that are still on shortwave, but more reduced but and on the internet, others are only on the internet today and others simply ended.

Deutsche Welle, for example for Brazil does not do more radio, but if it does it for Africa, BBC does not do more radio for Brazil, Radio Nederland practically ceased to exist now it is managed by a different organization.

MB: As a radio fan, how do you feel about this migration from radio to the Internet?

I think it was inevitable, you now have a better audio quality, you always listen to it, it does not depend on the propagation, schedules, times of the year, it was inevitable …

Now, anyway, there are places where you only arrive thanks to the short wave, in North Korea, you enter by short wave, in the interior of Brazil, you arrive only by short wave, for example Vatican radio I just came back with your service in portuguese language for amazons.

Recently here in the state of Minas Gerais, in Brazil, there is a very big discussion that the state wants to put an end to Radio Inconfidencia and this radio transmits by short wave to the places furthest from the state itself where only short wave radio reaches, so you cannot eliminate the short wave, if I repeat there was a migration that was inevitable, but the short wave still has a very important role.

MB: What future do you see for the short wave through digital radio, which does not seem to have much success?

What happens is that the internet took all the interest, but some countries managed, for example India has a good network of digital short wave radio, but for large cities, the internet was much more practical.

MB: going back to your book, which chapter would you recommend to someone who does not know radio and which one would you recommend for someone who already knows radio?

Well, from back to front, for those who know about radio, there is a chapter that talks about almost all shortwave stations, how they were born, what their productions were, what happened to them, migrations to the Internet, I think that chapter for the Dxsistas should be the one that attracts the most attention, that chapter is called “around the world by radio.”

For those who are not Dxsists, you have, for example, the invention of radio, chapter one and for those who like history have 2 chapters that are very interesting: the second world war and the cold war.

MB: Besides this book, I know that for many people, you wrote in a magazine that has influenced many Dxsists, what can you tell me about that stage?

Yes, it was the total electronic magazine and I also wrote some articles for the popular antenna and mechanical magazine, Brazilian editions.

One day I discovered that there was a magazine called Total Electronic and I sent them a report on stations and they liked it, I remember Mr. Newton Braga, who was the editor, today he is a legend of that time.

The magazine came out monthly and I wrote a small column, which began to appear every two months, then monthly, then it came out in 3 pages and kept getting bigger, until the closing of the magazine.

MB: What reflection can you make about why all that ended, Dxsismo being so strong here in Brazil, because it did not remain, beyond some fight between people from the clubs that exist everywhere, what do you think was the cause of the decline or disinterest in the hobby?

If the Dxsismo activity was really very strong here, we had many meetings, we had 2 meetings a year, even our meetings had various people from international stations, I remember visits from Radio Nederland, VOA, BBC, Radio Pequim.

I remember a meeting that was key for us and marked us a lot, it was a meeting in the city of Foz de Iguazú, southern Brazil.

I can’t really tell you what the real cause was, but I think it has to do with the blackout or migration of shortwave stations.

For example when I listened to the last Swedish radio broadcast in Portuguese, I promised myself not to listen to short wave radio anymore, because it was a very sad thing.

MB: Now going back to the book, I think it’s having an impact, it was like an awakening, do you notice that?

If I am seeing many people who are behind the book, as I also see students, people not necessarily linked to the short wave, if not to the world of radio in general.

MB: The book was presented at the Rio de Janeiro Book Biennial, what can you tell me about it?

If it was the first presentation in Rio de Janeiro, then it was presented at the Sesc (Serviço Social do Comércio) of the University of Paraná and together with the Brazilian association of university editors.

Rio de Janeiro was very interesting because another Dxsista friend was presenting an Antonio Argolo book from the Brazilian state of Bahia and it was nice because we were representing the short wave together.

Valter Aguiar at the Rio de Janeiro Book Biennial, accompanied by another important reference in Brazilian radio listening, the engineer Sarmento Campos http://www.sarmento.blog.br/

MB: The book is published by a university, what is the interest about the book for the academic sector?

If it is edited by the Catholic University of Saints in Sao Paulo, where I trained as a journalist in 1986.

Introducing the topic of short wave in the academic world I think is very important, although when I did the research, to be honest I found many monographs already written and I realized that short wave is already being studied.

I even started to see academics from other countries, writing about the short wave of their country of origin, for example in Portugal about the RDP (International Portuguese Radio Broadcasting), or the case of a Swiss teacher telling the story of Radio Switzerland International.

In various parts of the world today shortwave radio is being investigated at the same time, I mean today the Dxers, we end up becoming academic studies (laughs) …

MB: How did the idea for the book come about, because you told me that you were a bit disconnected from the shortwave?

What happens is that people never withdraw from everything, there are moments when one is more absent and others more present.

One day I don’t know why I put on google, the Brazilian service of the BBC and I found someone who was selling 50 records of the Brazilian service on the BBC on eBay, I spoke with a friend Carlos Felipe from the DX Club in Brazil and we decided to buy all the records and start digitizing everything and that was the first start, then the idea for the book came.

MB: How long did it take you between the research and writing the book?

And it was about 2 years …

MB: Now you have to defend it, do interviews, travel with the book, that will take a while … but in the meantime you already have another book in your head?

We don’t go with one at a time (laughs) …

MB: Finally, what message would you give to the readers of this report, who are generally from Dxers from abroad, about the future of radio? What message can you give as a Brazilian and South American?

About the future of radio, one listens for so long that it is going to end and radio is not over.

Television was going to end radio, the internet was going to end radio, but radio continues.

Now, for those who lived the time of even having so many shortwave radio stations that they could no longer fit into a band all together, that person turns on the radio today and gets discouraged.

But you have to agree that if I participated in that time, it was a very important stage, for the world and even for the history of humanity, because it was part of that Cold War propaganda, for example, which luckily remained in propaganda and it never happened.

Now it is necessary to understand that the radio migrated but it still exists. If you like to listen to the radio in the conventional way, there is still a lot to listen to.

As long as someone is broadcasting, there will always be something to listen to.

Valter Aguiar’s first radio and his most recent book.

Martin Butera, special article for Radio Heritage Foundation 2022

What is Coffee and Radio?

Coffee and Radio is an exploration of Brazilian radio listeners.

How they began listening to radio, the local or international stations that influenced them, the interests they have when tuning to a station, the languages they like to listen to, if they send listeners reports and collect QSLs, their antennas and receivers, and all aspects related to their radio listening both in shortwave and in other bands and modes.

About the Author

Martin Butera (PT2061SWL) is an Amateur Radio operator with more than 30 years of experience and has participated in DXpeditions throughout South America, under the Argentine radio callsign LU9EFO and Brazilian callsign PT2ZDX.

He collaborates for several newsletters and magazines, covering world radio, he is our accredited collaborator in South America for the Radio Heritage Foundation, he is also the founder of the Brazilian CREW Radio Oyentes, known as 15 punto 61 (15.61), now simply called 61 CREW.

Martin is Argentinian, born in the city of Buenos Aires capital. He currently lives in Brasília DF, capital of Brazil. He is also a journalist, documentary maker and founding member of Radio Atomika 106.1 MHz (Buenos Aires, Argentina).

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