Tuesday, May 21, 2019
In this country, we had radio shows such as Gunsmoke, Fibber Magee, The Lone Ranger, and so many other programs that people listened to regularly. These weekly shows entertained all of us but did you know there were thousands of Spanish language radionovelas or radio soap operas. I listened to a show on NPR the other day about Tulane University and its effort to preserve these shows.
The country of Cuba holds the record for producing the largest number of Spanish Language radio soap operas, both daytime and night time of any Spanish speaking country between 1930 and 1950. They exported these programs to other Spanish speaking countries and people became addicted the them, including Fidel Castro due to the frequent plot twists.
After the Cuban revolution, many of the Cubans who fled to the United States, continued producing these Radionovelas which ran on over 200 stations around the world. One of the companies, America's Productions Inc produced over 130 Spanish soap operas from 1963 to 1970. They hired displaced Cubans who were writers, actors, musicians, directors, and engineers for these because the Cuban actors could speak a "Continental" Spanish or a non regional Spanish so no one could tell where they were from.
Often times, the heroes would be fighting for democracy against some unnamed enemy. Rather than name the enemy "The Communists" Radiomovelas referred to them as "Existentialists" Furthermore, some soap operas were complete propaganda, while the more commercial ones were not. No matter what, the shows made the Cold War both fun and profitable and many provide a wonderful look of the 1960's and 70's.
Many of these soap operas targeted the house with with breaks advertising house hold and luxury items. No matter , there were so many twists and turns in these soap operas that people had to continue listening in so they wouldn't miss anything. In addition, they'd run for years and through out the time, they kept people's attention.
As stated earlier America's Productions Inc was responsible for creating a huge number of Radionovelas. This company was owned and run by Minin Bujones and her husband Louis Boeri a business man who had never made a soap opera prior to his leaving Cuba. His wife, Minin Bujones, was considered the Lucille Ball of Cuba. His children believe he might have been a spy for the United States because he often took trips to Washington, D.C.
Currently, Tulane University is paying someone to go through all 9000 plus reel to reel tapes in the library's collection to determine who made each episode from the actors and actresses to the engineers, directors, and everyone who helped make the episode. She is putting together resume for each person based on the information provided on the tapes.
The university is also digitizing their collection so people can use the material to study the Cold War and the world's perception of it. I hope you find this as interesting as I do. Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear. Have a great day.