ON AIR: Supporters talk about Barça

REPORTS 12 Feb 2019 - CMP

Supporters’ clubs all over the world broadcast their own radio program to bring culés of their zone together

FC Barcelona’s ‘Penyes’ movement don’t only attend games and support their team. They also love to talk about the current events at the Club, recent results and the various initiatives that are ongoing. So much so, that groups of supporters have created their own radio stations. They broadcast from countries as far apart as Canada and Italy, but share the same passion for Barça that connects fans around the world.

The origins of supporters’ clubs radio stations

The Peña Barcelonista “Nicolau Casaus” from Argentina were pioneers in producing a radio show about FC Barcelona from the perspective of the supporters’ club. The project began in 2004 when two journalism students wanted to talk about Barça and just under a month ago, they broadcast their 500th programme. The president of the supporters’ club and director of Barça Radio, Alberto Caloggero, explains that "the show has changed and evolved over time, as times and people are not the same as before”. Caloggero points out that in these 15 years "this challenge has been taken on by over 40 people" and that everything started with a little uncertainty, without knowing how the audience would react, but that now they have listeners in Argentina and other countries in America -especially the USA- and even in Europe.

The basis for Barça Radio is the motto ‘Mes que un club’. "I have always been against giving so much importance to what happens with the ball in the games. We talk about everything that FC Barcelona represent. We believe that Barça need this space so that the world knows what the Club are all about, through their fans", stresses the producer.

For Caloggero, the most exciting moment in which he has been involved is when he had the opportunity to interview Leo Messi. The conversation happened in 2004, when the captain was very young and was still part of the youth teams. "As I travelled regularly to Barcelona, I have been able to interview other players and directors at FC Barcelona, but that experience was unique", he recalls.

Ciao Barça: The latest news in Italy

Broadcasting from Rome throughout Italy, the Penya Blaugrana Roma produces the Radio Barça Italia programme on its own radio station online, Radio Roma Futura, of which the Association of Catalans in Rome is also the owner. With the radio studio located at the headquarters of the supporters’ club, the idea arose in 2014. "We are very successful because it is a supporters programme that talks about our passion", explains Massimiliano Morgante, president of the supporters’ club.

"This show has allowed us to unify the Italian-speaking Penyes: Before we were all separate and we didn’t know each other, but the radio show has helped us to get in touch reciprocally and created an exemplary union. For example, we make live connections with other Penyes and this has established and forged a relationship. We are now in contact with each other almost every day. And that is thanks to Radio Barça Italia".

"Our majority audience are Italians and also members of the Penyes movement, but since some journalists from different countries also participate in the programme, we are expanding into the rest of Europe," says the director. In addition, one of the regular collaborators is Stefano Rizzo, director of the sports magazine Passione del Calcio, who makes a weekly contribution called "5 minutes with the director" in which he talks about the team's last game.

Undoubtedly, the moment that Massimiliano Morgante remembers with special enthusiasm is the first time he interviewed the former player Luisito Suárez, better known as ‘El Gallego’ and currently a resident in Milan. "It was the greatest experience, to have the opportunity to speak with a Barça legend. In addition, he was delighted to participate in our programme and was very grateful to the Italian Barça supporters", he remembers.

The Barça view of the world

Not only do Penyes have their own radio show, but the World Federation also produces one: The Barça World Penyes Radio project that began in November 2017. The aim is to "give a voice to the supporters’ clubs" and become an internal means of communication that is also accessible to everyone. "Because we bring together the penyes from around the world, most of our listeners do not listen to the live show, but they do so via streaming the podcast that we upload to the website", said Teresa Calveras, programme director and communications chief of the Federation.

The station is broadcasted in Spanish and English and is produced from different parts of the world, wherever the pundits are, sometimes even in their own car. The technical team is directed by Massimiliano Morgante from Radio Roma Futura in Italy, with spoken contributions from Saona Dorado and Alberto Polinori; Teresa Calveras runs the show from Munich; Antoni Freire, president of the World Federation, calls in from Belgium, and Dalia Shoeib, member of the board of directors of the Barcelona Cairo Fans penya, does so from Cairo. Indeed, Dalia Shoeib doesn’t speak fluent Spanish and when she has to broadcast her section in this language, she has to study the text with her Spanish teacher before.

"A penya is an association and everybody has to contribute. We now have the structure together and we are moving forward", says the director. Beside talking about Barça latest news and near calendar, the show also explains supporters’ clubs news “because there is already a lot of media about Barça”. Therefore, they broadcast the chapter “The guest supporters’ club” in which the president of an international club explains their own history. They end the show with "El Presi responde", a section in which World Federation president Antoni Freire answers questions about the Penyes movement: “It is a great opportunity because he is super reachable”, Calveras recalls. 

Social media to share the podcasts and technologies to video-stream and allow live connections from all over the world have proliferated these kind of radio programs. Thereby, penyes give their thoughts texting the producers of the show and have their comments included in the programme.

The only Barça broadcast in French

The most recent program of all is Le Blaugrana Podcast, produced from Canada by the president of the Club Blaugrana des Supporters de Montréal, Michael Miller, and the supporter Alek Avendano. It was created in May 2018 because both of them are lifelong Barça fans and detected there wasn’t any French show about Barça in their country.

In addition to news and analysis, they also broadcast special episodes explaining the history of FC Barcelona. The president says that one of his favourite moments was the explanation of the origins of "Total Football" when looked at Barça's sporting culture from Rinus Michels, to Johan Cruyff, to Pep Guardiola. "This program allowed us to teach this tactic to our audience and explain why we fell in love with FC Barcelona," says Miller.

“We inform about what we are passionate about”

The Gent Blaufrana d’Anfa club, located in the Moroccan city of Casablanca, produces Barça Café from Radio Mars. A weekly broadcast in Arabic and with some sections in French, it is intended for all Moroccan fans who want to listen to Barça news.

"We do it because we see it as another way of communicating, talking about our supporters’ club and bringing together all Barça fans. Basically, we report on what we are passionate about in order to be able get others to feel that passion”, says penya treasurer Omar Warid.

"The most important thing is that we can talk freely about what we like most. It is not a professional programme, we are fans and not journalists, but the project is born of our passion for Barça. We have discovered the need to talk about our fandom, share it and make others fall in love with our team", he explains.

Barça in the Caribbean

"We’ve been fans since we were little; even though we are on a small island, the colours of Barça fly in the Caribbean", reports Roy Chévere, treasurer of the Peña Blaugrana in Puerto Rico. On this Caribbean island, the 3 Culés y Birras project was created two years ago, which means a conversation between any of the three friends while drinking beers.

"We wanted to express ourselves and bring together other residents who feel the same emotion and passion about our team. We have taken advantage of the technological means and the growing passion for football in the country to create our radio show, that we also video and upload to YouTube", explains Chévere.

The programme has a leitmotif: "We do everything with the pride that characterises Barça. They have a huge heart and always go out to win, but also transmit values and play as a team. We will always be willing to do this type of initiative, because we are Barça, nobody can doubt that."