‘Nocturno,’ Yet Another Living Cuban Museum Piece

Osmel Almaguer 

“Nocturno” is a radio program that’s been on the air for more than 40 years.  When it first began back in the ‘60s, it was well received by the youthful listeners of that time.

Notwithstanding the passing of decades, the program has remained.  Yet it didn’t do this by adapting and changing in order to maintain its once preferred status among young people.  On the contrary, it has turned into a space frozen in time, and thanks to that some of our parents will listen to it to nostalgically recall “the good old days.”

For me it’s a living fossil that only in a few aspects has been able to keep up with changing times.  Admittedly, if we look at it in the light of Cuban society today, it doesn’t appear so anachronic, but that’s only because of the Paleozoic character of this place.  In Cuba — like nowhere else — it’s possible to observe elements of daily life that were common decades ago.

What brought this to mind is the loss of a presence of radios in Cuban homes, a situation conditioned by the arrival of other new forms of entertainment and technology.  This springs from a change in the thinking of the masses of youth — increasingly marginal, more and more radical — with their new and such complex spirits.

For me “Nocturno” is a program that lacks feedback or contact with the ever-changing public.  Like I said to a friend, “It’s as if the world had ended and the program kept coming on by pure inertia.”

Last night my mother was listening to it as she laid on her bed.  It was “tape recording night.”  “TAPE RECORDING NIGHT?” Please!  Practically no one in this country uses tape recorders anymore.  Probably few people in the world still use them, unless as some kind of collectors’ items or as a relics.

This is an age in which we access enormous quantities of music on flash drives, quantities that couldn’t fit on thousands cassettes.  This then begs the question: so who are they putting that program on the air for?

Perhaps this opinion is part of the paranoia that we’ve been infected with over the course of these past fifty years.  But still, I have to recognize that “Nocturno” seems to me to be one of those paralyzing resources of the government, which on the other hand increasingly continues to close people’s access to the Internet.