2016-04-25

Achieving the Impossible: The Story Behind FM Soldati 91.3

Written by Lucy Courtnall
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Radio Station in action Radio Station in action

Walking into a small green-painted room, on the third floor of a nondescript building in a barrio on the outskirts of the city of Buenos Aires, a sign on the wall reads:

 

"Voces organizadas crean historia"

  Organised voices make history.

 

This is certainly true for FM Soldati, a small radio station set up and run by members of the community.

El Hormiguero is a new project where Voluntario Global is helping. An inauguration party that was held in March where members of the community and of Voluntatio Global all the celebrated the launch of such an important aspect for bringing about change and improving life in the neighbourhood.

Claudio, who helped to make the dream of the station come true, showed us around the building and explained how the organization El Hormiguero had started four years ago, with the aims of fighting for the rights of the people in the neighbourhood. For example, they wanted the government to give the streets of Villa Fatima official status and name them on the map as a way to start bringing the neighbourhood out of separated poverty and make people aware of its existence. El Hormiguero also set up other projects in Villa Fatima and the surrounding neighbourhoods such as school groups, football sessions and apprenticeship skills training.

Claudio then explained that it was not until two years ago that his friend Mathias suggested creating a radio station in the neighbourhood, to work alongside other successful stations already creating positive changes in neighbourhoods such as La Boca and Barracas.

A few years before there had been a big problem with police conduct and interference in the Villa, which eventually resulted in the government cutting off water and electricity supplies to the neighbourhood. The events were broadcast on the mass media, but the problem was distorted and the real cause of the government's action was not explained. This left the people in the neighbourhood feeling cheated, and gave reason for El Hormiguero to aim to broadcast local news to its community as it actually happened, thus bypassing the biased and unfair accounts which are spread by the mass media.

At this point, Claudio's sister, Soli, tells us that right from the beginning, people were asking How can we have a radio station in this neighbourhood? How can it be possible?

It took two years to organize the station and one year to build the location. They had to build and paint and rebuild, constantly finding problems and having to overcome them. Soli describes how one day the whole room was flooded with rain and they had to wear boots to walk around. It took a lot of time to repair the damage.

We thought we would never make it and everyone wanted to quit.

So of course, Soli explained, everyone cried when the radio station finally opened.

The station broadcasts not only specific news to the neighbourhood, but also current affairs and events going on the rest of the world. They have regular shows about music, food, and local happenings and often invite people from the community, as well as special guests and occasionally local bands to appear on the show.

Sitting in the broadcasting room, watching Soli, Claudio and other members of the group chat over mate and biscuits about their next show, with the enormous Radio Soldati antenna on the roof towering above Villa Fatima, it's easy to see why the organization was named El Hormiguero (The Anthill). Built piece by piece by people from all around the neighbourhood working together to create the seemingly impossible. Each bringing their small contributions to help create a powerful and inspiring tool to help shape a more positive future for the Villa.

You can listen to Radio Soldati 91.3FM online here.

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