The Radio Balilla – an “autarchic” device, made exclusively with Italian materials, assembled in Italy – was meant to bring the voice of the Fascist regime to as wide an audience as possible. Hence, its extremely affordable price: 430 lire (about one tenth of what a deluxe radio cost at the time), which could be paid in up to eighteen installments.

Via the national broadcasting service Eiar, Ente italiano per le audizioni radiofoniche, the Balilla broadcast mainly educational programs for children and adults, five daily newscasts, and Mussolini’s speeches live. But there were also pop and classical music, soccer games’ running commentaries, and entertainment shows (a few Italians still remember “I Quattro Moschettieri”, a radio parody of “The Three Musketeers” with original scripts for narrator’s voice, dialogs and songs, which went on from 1934 to 1937). There was very little advertising.

The Radio Balilla’s receiver, with its 3-valve Reflex circuit, was perfect for local stations but useless to pick up foreign ones: obviously, the regime was fine with that. The devices were made in the best companies of the time: Cge, Radio Marelli, Telefunken, Magnadyne, Allocchio Bacchini.

What a little box, full of sounds from the past.


December 15, 2013