Editor’s note: Guidepost has selected this article from its archives as a homage to famed radio and TV personality Concha Garcia Campoy who passed on last 10 July 2013. She was 55.
A quick glance at my press card by a young guard and I am ushered into the posh studious of Radio Cadena Ser. At the counter a lady with a bewitching smile picks up the receiver and presses some buttons. Seconds later Concha Garcia Campoy appears. Simplicity is one of her major traits. Just a simple outfit. There is no trace of make-up and yet the features are quite striking – big sparkling eyes and dark straight hair gently sweeping across her sturdy shoulders.
The winner of the coveted Microfono de Oro, awarded by the Asociacion de los Profesionales de Radio y Television [Association of Radio and Television Professionals], can hold an audience anywhere – on television, on the radio or just in the air! We halt near each room amidst cables and cameras with huge lenses. Patiently she explains about all that goes on behind the cameras in the voice that is familiar to millions. She has the gift of communicating, of getting a point or two across easily. Soon we are laughing and talking like old friends.
This T.V. newscaster and popular radio personality saw the light of day in Tarrasa, Barcelona where her parents had settled after leaving Andalucía in Southern Spain due to severe economic conditions. She recalls those early days with resounding joy: “I was an extrovert, a chatter box and always up to something – quite a character.” Her laughter fills the air.
“My grades were not high but to tell you the truth I had a great time.”
Having come to live she confesses: “I discovered the sea and came into contact with another type of Mediterranean life – more relaxing, more sensual and more hopeful. And I made life-long friends.”
She entered Belletera University to study journalism: “Then I figured there was more to life and decided to major in Economics. Finally I took up Philosophy and Arts.” She gives a broad smile. “Well, there you have it. I started three careers and only managed to finish journalism.”
But there are other horizons for people who want to get far ahead in life. One summer Concha held a job in a travel agency. The following year found her working in a restaurant with her parents: “So you see I have done work that has had nothing to do with my studies.”
The first encounter with the world of communication came while Concha was finishing journalism: “A very good friend of mine who I hold in high esteem encouraged me to join Radio Popular in Ibiza.”
If Concha was not on the air she was busy churning out articles (one a day) for Ultima Hora, the local newspaper. Soon she became a tireless worker putting in twelve hours a day. “As the years go by I tend to take it easy. But at that time I had a strong urge to do many things.”
Once she was called to organize a mass media week in collaboration with the Oficina de Fomento de Turismo. One of the guests happened to be Fernando Gonzalez Delgado, the director of Radio Nacional de España. He briefly remarked about a very important post at the RNE Studios in Madrid. She grabbed it. Another offer was to follow. Enrique Vazquéz, the then director of the Servicios Informativos de Television, approached Concha offering her an interesting post. Concha had just got through her oposiciones [civil service exams]. “I had never dreamt that I would ever set foot in Madrid. I arrived in the capital with this awful thought that I had to scale the Piruli [the television tower that has ever since become a landmark] and I kept wondering why we never got into an elevator. . .When I landed in this city I did not know a soul.”
The seventh of January 1985 marked the beginning of a new era in the world of television when Torrespaña began to relay the news. A charming woman faced a nationwide audience for the first time. Once the cameras started rolling Concha Garcia felt at ease and the image that came through the television screens all over Spain caught on instantly. “It was a trying time but folks accepted me.”
Mention her name these days and people are bound to say, “That’s the nice girl who used to be on the television.”
Right now she’s doing a great job in the radio program A Vivir Que Son Dos Dias whichh translates roughly as “Live it up! We are on this earth for only a couple of days.¨
“The show is geared to people who are caught up in the five-day week working world,” she explains. “It stresses the adventure of helping us to dream and to do things we are unable to carry out when tied up with so much work.”
Recent polls show that more than 80,000 listeners tune in on Saturdays and Sundays between nine and twelve in the morning. “Since the program is aired during the weekend we try our best to cater to people from all walks of life – housewives, politicians, even ministers who are so eager to take part in the program. We have succeeded in building up a heterogeneous audience. We want to say that we have young blood that has a keen interest in music, culture and current affairs. . . I can direct the program and also form my own team. We have a nice set of people in the group. I tell you I’d love to do this on the television but I don’t have any concrete plans.”
The three-hour broadcast is evenly distributed. The listeners are exposed to debates, political and economical issues, culture, music, theatre, film and even to sharp criticism through a viewer call-in service. They vote “El Boniato de la Semana” – an award given to a deserving person. Concha has been nominated many times.
She says of herself: “I am self-critical. I analyze my own work. At times I love reading Flaubert, especially Madame Bovary. Then I start pounding away on my typewriter. “
She receives criticism with great enthusiasm: “A few months ago an elderly lady phoned me to say that while I was on the television I was doing a great job but on the radio I was ´rather a bad girl.’ I am happy that someone was smart enough to detect that. I really want to be a person who does everything well. But I do not want to be too soft-hearted. And if I am criticized too much I wouldn’t really like it. But when someone comes up with constructive criticism it is just perfect as it enlivens up the whole show.”
Offers have been pouring in from the new T.V. channels but Concha has turned them down. “Right now I am not interested in presenting programs. I have quite a choice and I am really happy with what I am doing on the radio.”
On close ties with the family: “I am an independent person but I do need my family. My parents have really encouraged me in whatever I have embarked on and have never ever forced me to do anything against my will. I count myself lucky to be free and yet it is good to know that I have a family who is concerned about me.”
And on ballet she says: “I love the cinema but ballet is my real passion. I never miss a good performance.”
Any plans for the future?
“None,” she says giving a broad smile. “I enjoy my work and find happiness in all that I do. I am lucky to have good friends and sound health. Why ask for more?”
Some anchors put on airs after gaining popularity. But not Concha García Campoy. Recently in an interview on TV she remarked, “Fame comes in degrees. Fame opens many doors. You must have a clear picture of what you want to achieve in life. Then you have to set your goal and never ever lose sight of that star. At the outset being in front of the camera helped me a lot. But what I really care about is keeping in touch with marvelous people who are full of life.”
Concha García Campoy waves her wand and performs miracles in the air.