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Spain - Radio

For a long time, Spanish radio broadcasts were strictly controlled and censored and it was only in 1978 that this came to an end. Since then large numbers of radio stations have begun and Spanish listeners now have a wide range of both Spanish and foreign language stations to choose from. It is estimated that the Spanish spend more time listening to the radio than they do watching television. The radio stations that are available are a mix of privately-run and state-run stations, and there are both national and regional stations.

Spanish language stations which are popular include SER, the national radio station (RNE) and COPE (cadena de ondas populares espanolas). COPE is owned by the church and is part of a huge network of private stations. In addition to these Spanish language stations there are a number of stations which broadcast locally in regional languages. Expats will not find long wave stations in Spain and most broadcast on FM. Spanish radio presenters generally talk very fast and it is considered that if you can understand them, then you are almost a native.

Reception is usually good, although choice of stations may be limited in some rural areas. The music stations in Spain generally play British and American music but there are few Spanish stations which play ‘easy-listening’ music. Those who enjoy classical music can choose RNE 2, which is dedicated to the genre.

Many areas of Spain offer English language stations, but these tend to be areas where there are more expats, such as the Costas and the main cities. These stations play a lot of music, broadcast news programmes and have some talk shows. In addition, those who speak Dutch, German and a few other European languages will find that there are programmes broadcast in their languages too. It is widely considered that as these foreign language stations are trying to cater to all comers they are not quite doing what they set out to do and some broadcasts are thought to be a little amateurish.

UK stations such as the BBC World Service can be picked up in many areas of Spain as it broadcasts on a number of short wave frequencies. Those who have a Sky satellite system can also hear Radio 1, 2, 3 and 4 from the UK via that system. Other cable and satellite systems allow users to hear different radio stations.

English language stations on the Costa del Sol include Talk Radio Europe. This is considered to be one of the largest radio networks in Spain and it broadcasts from Malaga. Programmes include both local and national news, sports updates, travel information, property programmes, interviews and lifestyle programmes. It is considered that they have one of the best presenting teams in expat radio and the station does a great deal of work for charity.

Ace FM is another Costa del Sol-based station, but broadcasts on a local frequency. The music played covers more than 5 decades and there are a variety of news and sports programmes too, although the emphasis is very much on music. Central FM is a station which covers the Costa del Sol as well as some inland areas and Gibraltar. Music played is from the 1970s onwards and there are music, interviews, sports and competitions for listeners.

Harmony FM is an English language station based in the Costa Blanca and covering that particular region of the country. This is a music station with no presenters, so music is played around the clock, with the exception of news and weather broadcasts. Songs cover more than 5 decades. Another Costa Blanca station is Spectrum FM, but this covers wide areas of the south of the country. Spectrum plays music from the 1970s onwards and boasts some well-known radio presenters.

Xtra FM International Radio covers parts of the Costa Blanca including Benidorm. Music from the 1980s, 90s and 00s is played along with a variety of news, sports and weather programmes. The station also broadcasts local news in several different languages each hour. Ondo Cero International is a music and lifestyle station which broadcasts around the clock, covering both the Costa Blanc and the Costa del Sol. During the week from 2 pm to 5 pm there are programmes which are broadcast in Scandinavian languages and German, although the majority of the programming is in English. News bulletins are linked to the BBC.

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