“Radioscope”, the radio program that promoted Serrat at the end of the Franco regime in Spain
On January 13, 1963, the program Radioscope was born on Radio Barcelona. Spain was then still under the fascist regime of Francisco Franco which prohibited freedom of expression. Behind the voice of legendary host Salvador Escamilla, who began his broadcasts with “Hello Catalonia”, his program was a unique platform for new voices emerging on the Catalan music scene.
Among the young amateurs who came to his studio was a young man named Juan Manuel Serrat. It was in 1965 and he had just obtained his diploma as an agricultural expert. At the time, he was just a simple guitarist, but his determination testified to a desire to make history. He seizes the opportunity that Escamilla offers him: shortly after, a record company offers him a contract to record his first album.
Serrat became one of the pioneers of what was called the Nova Cançó Catalana, a group of songwriters who defended the use of the Catalan language, banned under Franco’s regime. On Radioscope, they were already encouraged to discuss and sing in the language, defying current censorship. This was one of the loopholes that contributed to the crack in authoritarianism.
In the 1980s, when Serrat was an icon of popular music in Spain, he returned to Radio Barcelona to have a relaxed conversation with Escamilla in the lobby. The two forged a deep friendship, and they seemed like brothers.
“Hello, I was waiting for you here. Can you sit here?” began the presenter. “Tell me the truth: what are these stairs for? Radio Barcelona remember you?”
Serrat, dressed like progressives of the day who all looked alike, blurted out, “Mountaineering! Up and down several times. Upstairs to work, downstairs to chat.
Escamilla then pulls out a pack of cigarettes and lights one.
“Normally, people bring back more memories than things. This house is important for those of you who work here,” commented Serrat.
He also did not forget the courage of the radio station to invite them to sing their protest songs.
Between laughs and puffs, Escamilla asked about the first songs he remembers performing live on his show. “A mi ella em deixa”, “El mocador”, “Sota un ciererer florit”, “La guitarra”, were some Serrat listed. Then the presenter mentioned the hit “La cançó de matinada”. The singer replies that “that’s what allowed me later to connect with the general public. But let’s not forget that I did a very good job before, thanks to what we did here at Radioscope.”
Both also remembered the food eaten at the nearby El Canari restaurant, as well as the usual discounts the owner gave them. Regarding these early songs, Serrat said that “they were very consistent with people’s needs, a type of song that allowed me to create this wonderful platform”.