Gallery of the Portuguese Pioneers’ Tube Radio

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Tube Radio

Brown and golden Hallicrafters Canada “Continental” tube radio.

Audio caption

Gilberto Fernandes
Click for Gallery of the Portuguese Pioneers’ page

Place of origin:
Toronto, Ontario

Creator: Hallicrafters Canada Ltd.

Radio has been one of the most popular media among the Portuguese communities in Canada, which have launched several stations and programs over the years. Radio was especially important for the immigrants that arrived in the 1950s-60s, among which there many illiterate who could not read newspapers.

The first Portuguese radio show in Canada, Vozes de Portugal, was launched in Toronto’s CKFH in 1958. Four years later, A Hora Portuguesa, produced by Manuel Teixeira, was launched in Montreal’s CFMB. Toronto’s multicultural CHIN radio, launched by the Italian-Canadian impresario Johnny Lombardi, has also hosted many Portuguese language programs since its founding in 1967. The following year, the brothers Luis and Amadeu Vaz launched the closed-circuit (for subscribers only) Rádio Clube Português in Toronto’s Kensington Market, the first Portuguese-owned radio station in Canada, which broadcast 15 hours of daily programming. Other stations appeared in Portuguese neighbourhoods in Montreal, including Ecos de Portugal in 1969 and Radio Centre-Ville (CINQ) in 1972, and in Toronto, including the Asas do Atlântico in 1976. In 1986, Frank Alvarez launched its multicultural radio station CIRV-FM in Toronto’s Little Portugal, in which the Portuguese programming was the most prominent.

In addition to these, community-based broadcasts, listeners in Canada also tuned into international Portuguese-language radio shows, including Radio Voice of Freedom, broadcast biweekly since 1962 by Portuguese anti-fascist exiles in Algiers, who sometimes relayed messages from fellow democrats in Toronto and Montreal. Undoubtedly, the most popular radio broadcasts from Portugal were of the soccer matches from the national club league on the weekends and during UEFA club competitions mid-week. The many soccer fans among Portuguese immigrants tuned into these broadcasts in their own homes or joined fellow fans to listen in group in public spaces. For instance, on Sundays, a large number of men gathered outside the Portuguese Bookstore on Nassau Street and Bellevue Avenue in Kensington Market to listen to the soccer broadcasts blasted from the store’s speakers.

Some radio hosts had significant political power among their audience, like the Azorean travel and real estate agent and immigration consultant José Rafael, who twice mobilized his community to protest the murders of Ângelo Nóbrega in 1969 and Emanuel Jaques in 1977 at Nathan Phillips Square; or the Maoist Mário Resende, one of the founders of Radio Centre-Ville, who critiqued his conservative and communist adversaries on the airwaves; or the reactionary Fr. Alberto Cunha, who spread rumours and fears among his predominantly Azorean audience immediately after the Carnations Revolution in 1974, until Lombardi ended his program after pro-MFA supporters demonstrated outside CHIN radio; or Martin Silva, the longstanding radio announcer at CHIN, who became the first ever Portuguese Canadian to be elected to public office as city alderman in 1988.

In 2023, there are several Portuguese-Canadian programs and stations, including on CHIN and Radio Centre-Ville, but also newer ones like Camões Radio and Radio Azores Canada. While they still play an important role in their communities today, radio lost its centrality among the Portuguese-Canadian media landscape with the appearance of local and international TV shows and stations since the mid-1970s, like FPTV, OMNI, and the Portuguese international public broadcaster RTPi. In the 21st century, audiences in Canada were also able to subscribe to channels from Portugal offered by Canadian cable companies, like SIC, TVI, Benfica TV, among others. The internet and digital media also revolutionized community radio by simplifying and reducing the costs of production, allowing hosts to record and broadcast content from Portugal, and allowing it to reach audiences all over the world.