Radio talk

As far as she can remember, her father loved three things: physics, politics, and music. He listened to classical music most of the time, and also folklore. Her mother also liked music, but she followed the times: protest singers like Joan Baez, Nana Mouskouri or Mercedes Sosa were her picks. Among them Nacha Guevara stood out, an Argentinean cabaret singer who was quite provocative. The mother used to play one of her songs to her daughters, which made them laugh a lot: ‘Don’t you marry, girls’, a funny, fast tune that advised young women to prefer short flings, good sex, and economic independence to the boring, depressing prospect of a fat and old husband (she later discovered the lyrics were from Boris Vian). Among her father’s few possessions, there was a tape recorder, a big-sized, reel-to reel, high fidelity device that the family carried along in their several movings. The tapes were mostly music, but from time to time he recorded some sounds at home. She remembers being interviewed by her father when she was four or five, but she recalls just his voice making questions and not their content. Was he interested in how she felt, or what she thought, or what she knew? No way to ask him now. At some point her sister figured out how to handle the tape recorder and started playing with it. She felt lucky to be invited in. They used to pretend to be radio anchors. As the radio was always on, the girls were familiar with the style of the programs. They sang songs and made silly comments. They imitated the ads and the chants they heard in the street demonstrations. They could play for hours, rerecording the tapes if needed. She had lots of fun. One particular piece that made the family delighted was a recording in which the girls pretended to interview the president, the first woman to be named president after her husband, Juan Domingo Perón, passed away in July 1974. Isabelita Perón –that was her name- was a lousy president, very weak, and her term saw the growth of the paramilitary violence against popular movements. This was the time when her family went into hiding because of threats from the extreme right. The tape-recorder came with them to their safe house and was a good source of joy, particularly when they pretended they interviewed people. Her sister, two years older, was always in command, and decided who played which character each time. In the interview with Isabel Perón, the older sister took the mic (a small, quite modern device) and pretended to be the journalist; the little girl had no option but to be the lousy, weak President. Both girls had a long conversation about what the President was doing, the journalist being always on the offensive and the President becoming almost speechless. The girls knew several names of the ministers of the cabinet and brought them into the conversation. One question of the smart journalist still hangs in her memory: ‘President Isabelita, tell me, why are you sooo bad?’ At that point of the interview, everybody laughed. She doesn’t remember what she responded, but she was happy to participate in the plot, even if she got the worst part in it. She felt so proud that the family enjoyed it, and that her parents knew that she was on their side.