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Italy - Radio

Since it is a fairly large country, Italy has several radio stations, catering to people of all ages and demographics. The structure of the radio sector is quite similar to the television industry. RAI, the local public broadcasting organization airs 3 FM & AM radio stations (RadioRai 1, RadioRai 2 and RadioRai 3) all across the nation. These stations account for over 50% of the total national audience. There are 14 other commercial radio networks in the country, which share the remaining 50% of the audience. Some of the common private radio services include La 7, Rete 4 (Mediaset), Italia 1, All Music, Canale Cinque and Telemarket TV. All the commercial networks, along with another 1,300 local stations, are financed exclusively by advertising.

According to statistics, there are presently more than 2,000 commercial radio stations broadcast all over Italy, some at a local level and others at a regional level. Most of them are all-music stations with jockeys talking in between; some of them may also have brief news bulletins. Like in the US and the UK, many Italian radio stations are dedicated to a particular genre (or era) of music. A few stations like RAI (1, 2 & 3), Radio Deejay, RTL and Radio Maria have national coverage. Being a broad-minded country, Italy also has its own LGBT station called DeeGay.

The Vatican has its own official radio station called Radio Vaticana or Vatican Radio, which is available in Italian, English as well as 45 other languages. It is mainly dedicated to broadcasts about religious celebrations, cultural events, in-depth programs, music and international news. Since July 2009, this station has also aired advertisements in order to meet rising radio costs. However, it only endorses those ads that meet “high moral standards”. Radio Maria is another popular religious station.

Radio Deejay is Italy first national commercial station and probably the most widely heard station across the whole country. It was founded on the 1st of February in 1982 and around 7 years later, it was taken over by Gruppo Editoriale L’Espresso, the organization that owns Radio Capital, Deejay TV, M20 and Repubblica Radio TV. This station plays hits by Italian and International artists.

RTL is another radio station to have gained nationwide popularity in the last few years. Their slogan is “Very Normal People”, which has appealed to the English-speaking expats as well as the Italians. This station is aired live from Milan and features news, the Top 40 songs and a little bit of everything else.

The Eco Radio station spreads awareness about the earth and ecology among Italians. Most of the news programs on this station deal with environmental issues. If that wasn’t enough, there is another radio station called Lifegate, which is mainly about helping the less fortunate and rescuing animals.

Radio R101 comes quite close to BBC Radio 2, as it airs adult contemporary music as well as the news.

There are no radio stations that cater only to expats as they generally play Italian numbers. The journalists and radio jockeys speak in Italian most of the time too. Some of the stations do have short programs focusing on other countries, like “America 24”, a 15-minute daily program hosted by Radio 24. Other stations like Radio Deejay, Radio 105 and Virgin Radio are also known to play International music for a few hours during the day. However, many expats who are trying to learn Italian listen to the radio every day to familiarize themselves with the language.

A list of the most popular radio stations broadcast in Italy, along with their transmission frequency, can be viewed on http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_radio_stations_in_Italy.

Listening to radio online is gaining popularity with the younger generation of Italians. There are a couple of websites and mobile applications that enable listeners to access various radio stations on their phones and laptops. Several expats living in Italy often listen to radio stations from their home country in this manner.

The radio industry in Italy has received mixed reviews from listeners; the outsiders, especially expats, find it unorganized whereas the locals refer to it as one of the most vibrant and exciting sources of entertainment in the country. As a source of information, the radio isn’t as popular with Italians as newspapers, television, mobile phones and the internet. However, a major chunk of the Italian population tunes into local radio stations regularly for real-time updates on the weather and traffic.

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