Interview with Paloma Lopez Villafranca

“The key challenge is to know how to attract new listeners”

Lecturer at the University of Málaga, where she coordinates Comutopía Radio, Paloma Lopez Villafranca was from July 1st to September 15th 2017 at the Communication and Society Research Center at the University of Minho for a research mission on new radio genres. Graduated in Audiovisual Communication and Journalism, Master in Strategic Management and Innovation in Communication is developing a PhD. She was a media professional between 1998 and 2009, having worked as a journalist for Grupo Prisa, Recoletos, and some municipal entities, in addition with a collaboration at Radio Nacional de España. In her research she wants to know, for example, if the tendency in radio is to be less sound and more audiovisual.


The new radio genres are linked to technological evolution. Paloma Lopez Villafranca wants to know how technologies affect the gender change and how new listeners can emerge, looking at radio consumption based on different formats, making a comparration between the digital listener, and the analogue listener.

The researcher says that the habit of listening to the radio has returned recently. Above all, the trend goes to the radio with a musical profile. But there is also a trend in Spain, which is the growth of a format similar to the old radio-theater, and also the sonorous formats related to television series, mainly North Americans. There is a lot of talk on the radio, specially the most popular series, such as A Game of Thrones. This means, according to the researcher, that the radio panorama seems optimistic, contrary to a recent trend, on what the opposite happened: “I am now convinced that the radio will be heard, but in a different way, with new listeners, other platforms, such as podcasts, for example”.

It was in this context that she came to Portugal to investigate what is going on here about radio. And observe what is happening, in this field, comparatively with Spain. For now, according to the researcher, the trend is the same: “The program animators are humorists, and there is a lot of sharing in social networks and in several platforms, as is the case of Youtube. But there are some differences. In Portugal, the radio talk show, for example, is in the morning, while in Spain it happens all day long”.

However, there is no formula for success in radio.

There is also the phenomenon of youtubers and their immense followers, which in a way is transposed into the radio itself. ‘Radiotubers’, for example, is a musical program in Spain, made by contributers who are, exactly, youtubers.

The choice of the CECS to make this research office is a result of a previous contact with the researcher Madalena Oliveira, which is linked to the radio studies at ECREA. In addition, it seemed to her that the team that studies the sector in Portugal, and at CECS in particular, are doing an excellent job.

In terms of future research challenges, she argues that “the key challenge is to know how to attract new listeners”. In addition, she says that it is necessary to keep in mind “what needs has to be done to reach an audience that does not have the habits to listen to the radio”, remembering that when she was a child, she listened to the radio, noting that today, a child does not do it.

Palloma Lopez Villafranca points out that socially radio can be very important, since it is a medium with many possibilities, from training to education: “In Spain, independent and community radios are emerging, which are very interesting projects”. A panorama that, for the moment, does not exist in Portugal.

Interview and photos: Fábio Ribeiro
Edition: Vítor de Sousa