Radio and oral performance

Radio is in principle oral performance. Its messages are the result of word architecture. Let’s call it that since before being broadcast, the message needs to be designed  onto a logical structure; otherwise, the articulated word would only be noise. All this is a matter to be taken very seriously. The objective of each radio unit is based on conscious elaboration: everything is planned.With an exercised intellect – and a good dose of imagination – we realize that all radio resources operate on oral bases. Music, sound effects and silence are, if not entities of oral performance itself, they are auxiliary or emphatic elements of it.

The complexity of the radial product results from a rational and well-calculated combination of all the elements that makes it up. Together they make it possible for the apparently simple sound formula to allow the necessary stimuli to reach the four remaining senses.

The challenge intensified with the inclusion of written texts for their transmission. From then on, what can be called “radio oral performance” apparently underwent a raid. The informative quality of the radio could not be removed from its function as a disseminator of truthful and objective news, ideas and knowledge.

Would this medium have to be subordinated to the text, or vice versa? The former makes messages “transmissible”, but not “radio-transmissible”. Then, the written text must migrate towards the media, passing from a written to an oral structure with no undermining of the density nor quality of the contents.

Radio is a highly mass medium; it is capable of invading any space without compelling its audiences to abandon their work or the place where they are; alone or in company; in any body position, traveling on foot or in any means of transport. These are possibilities that place it at an advantage over other media. An ally and promoter of knowledge management, as it follows itself a systematic, logical and organic order when constructing its messages. In this process, elements ranging from the correct interpretation of “what is going to be said” to vocabulary, always appropriate to oral language as the only formula for its interpretation by the majority, are incorporated.

Radio has oral performance as its starting point. It requires that its written content be adapted to that characteristic. The radio product – in order to be effective – includes the transmutation of its messages from the written text to the oral expression. Something that is not always achieved.

Author: Tomás Alfonso Cadalzo Ruiz


Tomas Alfonso Cadalzo Ruiz (Cienfuegos, 1951). Member of UPEC (Union of Journalists of Cuba)  and UNEAC (Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba). A Journalist,  writer and director of radio programs. Author of several books in Mexico and Cuba, including “La Radio, utopia de lo posible”. A Portal de la Radio Cubana collaborator since it went on the air. He also writes for Radio Progreso, Radio Ciudad del Mar and the newspaper “5 de Septiembre”.

Translation Gilda Gil

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