A Visit to Rádio Universitária 870 AM in Goiânia, Brazil
Text by: Martin Butera
Photographs: Ligia Katze
Martin Butera continue his fascinating visits to radio stations and this time shows us one of the most Important university radio stations in Brazil. A station that transmits in the AM band and with its 20 KW, it has been able to be heard by different DXers in 5 continents.
The first university radios arose in 1915 in the United States, the product of experimentation by physicists and engineers. In that year, the University of Wisconsin operated through spark transmitters until it had the first license called 9XM and made its first voice transmission between 1919 and 1920. By the year 1925 there were some 124 university stations in the United States, which joined National Public Radio in the 1970s, an institution that brought together non-profit stations.
In the South American context, more precisely in Brazil, the official beginning of radio broadcasting takes place in Rio de Janeiro, on September 7, 1922, in the speech of President Pessoa, commemorating the centenary of Independence.
The first university radio station in the country was Rádio da Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), which began operations on July 1, 1950, with authorization to broadcast educational content, but not entertainment.
Only ten years later, the second university radio appeared, linked to the Federal University of Itajubá (Unifei), called: Universitária (1490 AM), located in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais.
Universitária AM (820 AM), from the Federal University of Pernambuco, would be the third to appear, in 1963.
And another pioneer station was Rádio Universitária of the Federal University of Goiás (UFG) was established by resolution of the rectory in 1962 and with a concession obtained in September 1965.
The curious fact is that these first radios, organized between 1950 and 1965, remain to this day operating in the Brazilian territory and in the AM band.
Although university radios became popular at the end of the 70s, the first university station we found is Rádio USP (93.7 FM), inaugurated on October 11, 1977, in São Paulo – Brazil.
From the 80s and 90s, FM radio stations linked to higher education institutions throughout Brazil did not stop growing.
The greatest expansion occurred at the beginning of the year 2000, of course thanks to the Internet and the emergence of the so-called WebRadios.
History of University Radio 870 AM
Here is a brief history of Rádio Universitária 870 AM (Callsign ZYH 754) of Goiânia.
Goiânia is a Brazilian municipality, capital of the state of Goiás. It is 209 km from Brasilia, the national capital. With an area of approximately 728.84 km², it has a continuous geography, with few hills and lowlands, characterized by being a region of the Central Plateau of Brazil, which makes it an excellent place for radio transmissions.
Rádio Universitária was created on September 25, 1962 by resolution of the University Council of the Federal University of Goiás – UFG and authorized to go on the air on September 16, 1965, being one of the first educational stations in the country.
The installation project was coordinated by Ivo Pinto de Melo, the first appointed director of Radio. The installation in its own building took place in 1965, in Alameda Botafogo and, at the inauguration of the transmitters, Rádio Universitária 870 AM, was attended by the senator for Goiás and former president of the Republic, Juscelino Kubitschek de Oliveira, and the then Governor Mauro Borges.
The station began its transmissions with a power of 1 KW at 1400 Khz in Alameda Botafogo, in the center of Goiânia. Currently, the headquarters of the University is located in Lago das Rosas, in the West Sector, and the transmitters are installed in UFG Campus 2 – operating at 870 AM with 20 KW of power.
In 1978, a fire destroyed much of his equipment, furniture, audio collection, and other records. The radio began to work precariously, for about a year, in an improvised studio at the headquarters of the transmitters in the South Sector.
It was not until 1979 that Rádio Universitária 870 AM moved to its current address, in Alameda das Rosas.
The current headquarters has four studios and an auditorium with capacity for 110 people, its own parking lot and study rooms.
The station’s team of people has 31 UFG employees, divided into 4 departments: Administration (04), Programming and Artistic Production (09), Journalism (06), Technical (12). In addition to these people, the radio also has a staff with outsourced cleaning, maintenance and security services (services managed by organizations external to Radio).
Rádio Universitária has a General Directorate, with Márcia Boaratti as director and Roberto Nunes as deputy director. They also have the Executive Directorate that fulfills the function of advising the General Directorate, made up of the area directors and the General Directorate.
Even in the context of the restrictions of the covid 19 pandemic, Radio Universitária broadcast 51 programs, where more than 27 are self-produced.
The rest of the programs and content are produced by UFG partners, such as the national radio stations: Rádio Senado, Rádio Câmara, Radiobrás, Rádio MEC.
They also have international partners such as radio stations: Radio France International (RFI), Radio Netherland (NM), Rádio Deutsche Welle (DW), Rádio Internacional de Suiza (SRI) and Radio Exterior de España.
Video Tour by University Radio 870 AM – Goiânia
From the hand of our Radio Heritage Foundation correspondent in South America Martin Butera, we invite you to a tour of the station’s studios. Be sure to watch this exclusive video: https://youtu.be/XLZGcXwceWI
- Marcia Boaratti (Director of University Radio)
- Silvânia de Cássia Lima (Director of the Journalistic Department of University Radio)
- Maurício Cezar Ramos da Silva (Director of the Technical Department of University Radio)
- Danilo Braz da Silva(Technology Manager of University Radio)
1. Marcia Boaratti (Director of University Radio )
When visiting the station Martin Butera conducted several exclusive interviews for the Radio Heritage Foundation, including an interview with Marcia Boaratti (Director of Radio Universitaria UFG). The original interview is in Portuguese https://youtu.be/eapiuySx4fs
Here we make a small translation into in English, a small summary of the most important concepts of said interview.
Marcia Boaratti, talks about the Mission of Rádio Universitária, which is “To offer the population a plural, ethical and committed programming with the public university, citizenship, social transformation and democracy”, in matters of public interest, such as: health, education, human rights, sports, arts, culture and politics.
Marcia Boaratti, states that the station’s vision is to be a benchmark as an instrument for the dissemination of science, teaching, research, extension and culture.
Marcia Boaratti, also highlights the musical programming, where the radio stands out for its transmission of MPB (Brazilian Popular Music), in its most varied genres: choro, sertanejo, pop, rock, instrumental, samba, etc.
Finally, Marcia Boaratti stated how difficult it was to do radio in the Covid 19 pandemic, where they had to adapt to remote programming and with only 10% of the staff present at the station.
2. Silvânia de Cássia Lima (Director of the Journalistic Department of University Radio)
Interview with Silvânia de Cássia Lima (Director of the Journalistic Department of University Radio), the original interview is in Portuguese: https://youtu.be/Tvr00zSAego
Here we will make a small translation into in English, a small summary of the most important concepts of said interview.
Silvânia de Cássia Lima, stated in the interview that together with university students and professors, the station was consolidated as a laboratory for the Social Communication career and, later, as a space for experimentation for courses in other areas, such as Music,
Engineering and informatics.
According to her words, Rádio Universitária da UFG is the only educational station in the State of Goiás, where culture is treated as a headline.
Silvânia de Cássia Lima also highlights the importance of promoting access to information using the plurality of sources for the production and distribution of content, with respect for democracy and the diversity of Brazilian society; Silvânia de Cássia Lima, says that the radio aims to have programming for educational, artistic, cultural, scientific and informative purposes, with an emphasis on the knowledge produced by the UFG, contributing to the formation of citizens.
Lastly, Silvânia de Cássia Lima, says that all this work is carried out by the team of Radio professionals and gains important reinforcement with interns from the Faculty of Information and Communication, where more than 60 Journalism students are responsible for twenty hours of schedule per week.
3. Maurício Cezar Ramos da Silva (Director of the Technical Department of University Radio)
In the third interview, the director of the technical department, Mr. Maurício Cezar Ramos da Silva, shows Martin Butera, the main control of the station, where his mixing desk and different audio process racks stand out You can see the interview at the following link (language in Portuguese, but we recommend attending since it is a very visual content) https://youtu.be/8G0YxBUw4Uo
4. Danilo Braz da Silva (Technology Manager of University Radio)
The fourth and last interview is with the Technology Manager, who shows an interesting process rack of all the studio audios and the master output up to the radio transmitter, also shows the battery power system, which allows near autonomy. than 2 hours, if the power drops. Do not skip watching the video, of course it is in Portuguese but it is unmissable: https://youtu.be/_y6OmNVHnnc
Mixing rack and UPS system
Vintage Studio Setup
An initiative of the students of the university was the creation of a fully equipped studio with vintage technology, the idea is to transmit programs using technology from previous decades.
I personally found that idea fabulous.
Martin Butera shows us the assembly of the future vintage radio of the university station
Martin Butera in the record room being sorted to operate from the vintage studio of university radio
Images of the University Radio Auditorium
Martin Butera with the console and racks of the University Radio Auditorium
AM migration to FM
In Brazil there is a slow process of turning off all AM radios and digitizing all radios in the FM band.
Radio Universitaria has been waiting since 2014 for the station to migrate to FM, for which reason it has been working for years on the reorganization of its structures and also its programming, to meet the audience profile of FM stations.
The radio expects to have better coverage of its signal in the metropolitan region, with an improvement in sound quality.
With the AM to FM migration, the stations of Goiânia already have their future channels recognized, new frequencies.
The AM-FM migration process continues at a steady pace throughout Brazil, and little by little, radio stations are promoting their future channels. In Goiânia, six stations are already preparing for the transition.
The list begins with Rádio Bandeirantes AM 820, a station that is expected at 98.7 FM. The Goiânia dial will also have 88.5 FM, a channel that will be assigned to the current Rádio Universitária AM 870.
The list continues with the other stations in the municipality, including Rádio Aliança AM 1090, expected at 92.3 FM as Fonte FM; Rádio Difusora Pai Eterno AM 640, which will go to 95.5 FM; Rede Aleluia AM 540, a station that will be broadcast on 100.7 FM and Rádio Daqui AM 1230, a station from Goiás that is expected to be tuned on 101.7 FM.
Today there are 1781 AM stations in the country, which are divided according to their scope into: national, regional or local. Of these, 1,386 have already requested the change of band and some 937 have already been relocated to FM throughout Brazil.
In my personal opinion, I think the disadvantage of migrating to FM is that the most remote rural areas where only AM waves could reach will be left without access to radios, since in these places there is usually no Internet either, the only way to get information and entertainment was thanks to AM radio.
Final Conclusion, by Martin Butera
Despite its relevance to society, campus radio still faces many challenges.
Although currently university radios in Brazil are really very numerous and play a key role in bringing a non-commercial place to the country’s current media format.
University radios have a great challenge in thinking of attractive programming to capture listeners and at the same time get programming that is educational and attractive.
But not many times they have a budget to be able to manage themselves correctly, in any case, with the permanent economic challenges, university radios have a very valuable resource: a body of students and professors determined to keep these radios active to continue producing content, forming new communicators and serving as a bridge between the academy and the community.
The station has already received several awards and honorable mentions from the State, the Legislative Assembly, the Municipality and Non-Governmental Organizations. It has the support of the intellectual class, of recognized and popular artists and, mainly, of the listener, who has an active voice in the programming and participates through letters, telephone calls and emails.
- File Journalistic Department Radio University of Góis.