Puerto Williams, a town of about 3,000 on the Chilean island of Navarino, is by almost all accounts the southernmost city in the world. Officially the port of entry for ships en route to Antarctica, it nudged out Ushuaia in Argentina for the title in 2019 due to its new categorisation as a city. But the rocky landscapes, forests and long stretches of uninhabited land that surround it have drawn in adventurers since long before that. “The island is beautiful but life here isn’t easy,” says Mauricio Bahamonde, a long-time presenter at local station Radio Navarino. “The winters are long and tough. It snows a lot. Temperatures are low and we don’t get a lot of daylight.” He tells us about the history of the world’s most southerly radio station, the town’s latest news and why we shouldn’t be surprised that, even in the most distant of places, people are still listening to Dua Lipa.
What’s the big news this week?
Not a lot happens in a small town like ours. Usually, the news we have is centred around problems we have with the government. Lately we’ve been having issues leaving the island. The government has a deal with a private company that is supposed to give residents tickets to the regional capital, Punta Arenas. But there’s a huge waiting list and it’s really hard to get out. If I wanted to go out to Punta Arenas tomorrow, I’d have to wait 30 days. That has been tough for us.
What’s your roster like?
We have two main programmes. One of them is in the morning from 10.00 to 12.00 and the other one is in the afternoon from 15.00 to 17.00. The morning show is more informative as we use it to broadcast local, regional and national news, whereas the afternoon is reserved for announcements. Lots of community organisations use it as a space through which to invite people to participate in events, courses, workshops – that kind of thing.
Do you play music?
Yes. In the mornings it’s usually Latin music, whereas in the afternoon it’s more English-language stuff. We tend to lean toward pop or musica urbana.
Any artists or songs on repeat?
We stay up to date with the global pop charts, so if something is playing in the UK or the US, chances are it’s playing here too. If I had to say one name, it would probably be Dua Lipa.
© MONOCLE Weekend Edition August 7, 2021
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