Location Livorno, IT

radio solaire livorno

Radio Bamako (Mali) 1991

”Give a voice to those that don’t have it. This has been the real revolution” —Giorgio Lolli

Radio Solaire Livorno is a project by Federico Bacci, Francesco Eppesteingher, Giorgio Lolli, Massimo Carozzi thought for the city of Livorno.

There was a time when air was free and belonging to everybody, when you didn’t have to pay to broadcast and it was possible to do it with a little money. A time when the antennas had little power, and radio stations were something closer, an instrument of democratic defense, an instrument that potentially belonged to everybody.
The new generations don’t remember this period of pioneers, when with an amplifier you could broadcast a Radio Station. It was the community that recognized itself into the aired words, the songs dedicated, the news about strike, about the seniors in the area, the records in loop.

A Bolognese in Livorno

Many do not know that Guglielmo Marconi shaped his education exactly in Livorno, learning to use the telegraph and the Morse code, thanks to an old sailor from Livorno, Nello Marchetti. It is in these surroundings where he conducted his most important experiments: it is in 1903 in Coltano, where his first radio-telegraph transmission is broadcasted with a spark-gap transmitter. Marconi’s goal was to go as far as many kilometers into the air, send messages all over the world, especially to the Italian colonies in Eritrea, in Massawa: radio broadcasting, through his words, should represent the means to spread orders into the colonies. For this reason, years later, the Fascism welcomed him as a son: during Fascism the word was fundamental to indoctrinate the people and technology should be at the subjected to power. Marconi, who became fascist since the beginning, always supported the reasons for the war in Ethiopia, openly takes sides in favor of interventionism in in Africa.

Stazione Radiotelegrafica Marconi (Coltano) 1911

Giorgio Lolli is from Bologna as well. And even Giorgio, like Marconi, brought the radio to Africa, however with less warmongering and more democratic intentions. His philosophy is opposed to Marconi’s: the radio must be a revolutionary instrument, first of all, at people’s service. Giorgio’s objective is to give a voice to those that don’t have it. It doesn’t want to give orders, it wants everybody to speak their mind. It is for this reason that with his challenge, Solaire installs in Africa over 500 radio stations, in the most isolated villages in Mali, in Togo, in Burkina Faso; radios that use FM broadcast, inexpensive and with low-powered transmitter, radios that everybody could afford, this is his policy.

Tex 20 Transmitor Tex20 with dust coming from the desert - Lomè (Togo) 1996

His revolution does not stop here anyway: Giorgio pictures a kind of Africa the exact opposite of the one imagined by Marconi, as most independent and emancipated as possible, in a word ‘decolonized’, returned to Africans. So he founds different free training schools for workers, specialized technicians and radio hosts.

The radio, in a continent like the African, outdated as the media consider it in Italy, it becomes an appropriate means of communication, suitable to cover long distances and to make people otherwise too far, communicate to each other. In those countries it speaks the language and the local dialects and it erases the language of the colony. In an ecology of technologies, radio reacquires a function and life in Africa.

Centre de Formation des Techniciens de Radio & Television - Lomè (Togo) 2003

An action of technological exorcism.

Bring Giorgio Lolli to build a community radio station in Livorno is an act of technological exorcism. It ‘demarconizes’ the coast, decolonizes the broadcast space, it regains the spontaneous nature that lies at the foundation of the virtuous experiences of independent radio stations. For its nature, the radio signal owns something magic: it transforms the sound in electrons, it shoots it in the air until it finds a receptacle, which, due to the effect of magnetism, it transforms it again in sound through the vibration of the speakers. During this process there is an echo of disciplines of alchemy, an admirable passage of status, a modern magic act. The irresistible fascination of the radio is partially this as well. Giorgio, spreading these antennas that emit a signal and making the broadcast between humans possible, it holds the role of a Clairvoyant/Shaman, a role we think nowadays to be needed.

Our action, put into practice with Giorgio’s help, it will try to put back at the core of discussion the power to unite without discrimination the independent and communal radio experience. This power has the right to exist and to be available to everybody. A small quantity of radios is produced, with limited advantage and coverage area, instead of powerful radios with national coverage. Giorgio enhances the deep democracy that such a means represents; a means that does not need expensive infrastructures and that allows many communities to express themselves and to get informed. A crowd of small communal radio stations against a few big networks. Seize the broadcasting air is a political action, a statement of freedom that counter balances the seizure, based on the constraint of money and of power, reconfirming the right to express yourself. Symbolically re-discuss the distribution of frequencies based on money and affirm the right of free expression and the freedom to broadcast, for us, it represents a non-refutable action.

This action brings again the inclusive strength of radio as a means of communication through a practical means. It abandons the muscular and technological strength of the network of networks.

In the overview of a communication that is more and more limited and divided into slots of audience/consumers of opinions and goods or opinions about goods, radio, in good hands represents a means of direct communication, unfiltered. It is, therefore, a means of counter-power and democracy.

Broadcasting in the air the voices of those that don’t have one, our action of technological exorcism will try to partially counterbalance all that was here above stated.

Translation: Francesca Bocci Benucci