Bringing Back the Soaps! - The Latin American Library (Video)

  • [Donde esta el agente secreto] [Radionovela]
  • [Para quien trabaja el agente secreto] [Radionovela]
  • [Quien es el agente secreto] [Radionovela]
  • [Yo soy el agente secreto] [Radionovela]
  • [Music]
  • Actually, I am not the agente secreto. My name is Christine Hernandez, and I am the
  • Curator for Special Collections at Tulane University’s Latin American Library. Whether
  • you are a native Spanish speaker, a fluent non-native speaker, or just know enough to
  • understand some basic words in Spanish, I bet you are familiar with the term, telenovela.
  • Yes, that genre of Spanish-language television soap operas known for the timeliness of their
  • storylines and a healthy supply of melodrama. Well, before televisions became commonplace
  • and telenovelas a staple of television programming, soap operas lived on the radio. In Spanish
  • they are called radionovelas, and it was through daily and weekly radio programs that Spanish-speaking
  • audiences throughout Latin America, the Caribbean, and the rest of the Spanish-speaking world
  • would have listened to their favorite radionovela shows as well as other news, informational,
  • and entertainment programs as they went about their daily lives at home and at work, in
  • both cities and the countryside. During the years between 1963 and 1970, America’s
  • Productions Inc. (API for short), founded by Louis J. Boeri and based in Miami, Florida,
  • produced, licensed, and distributed Spanish-language radio programming throughout Latin America,
  • the Caribbean, the United States, and parts of Europe. Boeri hired some of the best local
  • technical, writing, and acting talent, most of whom were recent emigres from Cuba, the
  • wider Caribbean, and Mexico. API’s specialty was the radionovela, though the company also
  • produced comedy, suspense, informational, documentary, and journalistic programs for
  • radio. According to Boeri, some of API’s earliest contract work was to produce anti-Communist
  • programs for broadcast over the US government’s Voice of America radio, but the work that
  • kept API profitable and successful throughout the 1960s was entertainment. Original radionovela
  • stories and adapted popular works translated into Spanish that promoted democratic ideals
  • like self-determination, free enterprise, and open expression. By the time API closed its doors
  • in 1970, audiences had long before begun to spend more time watching television and less
  • time listening to the radio, and APIs radionovelas soon disappeared from the airwaves, replaced
  • by the telenovela. But today, the radio soaps are back! Thanks
  • to the generous support from the Latin American Research Resources Project, part of the Global
  • Resources initiatives of the Center for Research Libraries and a Digitizing Hidden Collections
  • grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources made possible by funding from The
  • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The Latin American Library has recently published
  • 41 of API’s radio programs, most in their entirety, and with titles like: Agente Secreto
  • 009/Secret Agent 009; Amarga Espera/Bitter Awaiting; Odio en la Sangre/Hatred in the
  • Blood; and Cuando el Amor es Pecado/When Love is a Sin. These soaps and a selection of other API
  • programs are now available to listen to again via the online collection of Spanish-language
  • radio soaps in the Louis J. Boeri and Minin Bujones Boeri Collection of Cuban American
  • Radionovelas in the Tulane University Digital Library. Access the online collection through
  • the Latin American Library’s digital collections page at its website: lal.tulane.edu
  • The online collection currently hosts only a third of the almost 9,000 total audio recordings
  • contained in the physical collection along with photograph images and API promotional
  • materials in print. In the coming years we will continue to digitize and publish additional
  • programs to the online collection. For now, we welcome everyone to enjoy again the listening
  • pleasure of the radionovela.
  • [Music]