Alfredo Alvela (1934-1994) was a radio announcer, director and reporter. His career began in 1950 at Emissor Eletromecânico (Porto), and from there he moved to Rádio Clube Português in 1956, following a selection process. He also applied for a job with Rádio Renascença, which was based in rua da Alegria street, coming second in the selection process. The station, soon afterwards, moved to the seventh floor of a new building in rua Sá da Bandeira street. Alfredo Alvela’s work as a reporter in the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s involved reporting on cod fishing, the inaugurations of the Arrábida bridge and the Douro International dams, visits to Porto by the British Queen, Elisabeth II, and the Brazilian President Juscelino Kubitschek, roller hockey championships, Tour of Portugal bicycle races, the tour by Orfeão Universitário do Porto to the United States (1968), programmes in Portuguese-speaking radio stations in the United States. He also covered the Custóias train accident, the flooding of the River Douro in 1962 and the sinking of the Silver Valley ship and rescue of the crew.
In one of the episodes of João Paulo Diniz's programme No Ar, História da Rádio Em Portugal, he would be remembered as having done, among other reports, that of 25 April 1974, in Lisbon's Carmo square, when Marcelo Caetano surrendered to the rebelling soldiers. Alfredo Alvela was also a reporter on 26 April, at Caxias political prison, and on 28 April, accompanying the train trip that brought Mário Soares from exile to Lisbon. In the early hours of 26 April 1974, Alfredo Alvela entered Caxias Fortress and collected the first testimonies from the political prisoners imprisoned there. That morning, at 11 o'clock, Rádio Clube Português reported to the Portuguese people, for the first time, accounts of torture, beatings, terror and death that had been carried out in that prison for political prisoners. In the report from Caxias, Alfredo Alvela was concerned with constantly telling the date and time of the event, an almost insignificant detail, but one that registers the march of time.
The story of the cassette is notable in relation to the report about Mário Soares. On the morning of 28 April, Rádio Clube Português editorial staff received the information that Mário Soares was returning from exile, travelling to Lisbon on the Sud-Express train. Emissora Nacional had sent the reporter, Mario Meunier, to Vilar Formoso to interview Soares during the train trip to Lisbon. Armando Pires, knowing the route of the Sud Express train and a former employee of Rádio Ribatejo (Santarém), a station belonging to Rádio Clube Português, presented a plan that could allow them to get the information first and beat Emissora Nacional. Armando Pires left by car with Alfredo Alvela (whom he called Alfa), leaving him at Entroncamento station, the last stop of the train before arriving at Lisbon. In the meantime, Rádio Clube Português instructed Rádio Ribatejo to maintain a telephone line open for a specific operation, when required. The journalist got on the train (at Entroncamento), interviewed Soares and, as agreed, threw the cassette of the interview to Armando Pires, through the window of the train, as it passed through Santarém station. Ten minutes later, even before it was edited, the interview was on the air. It must have been at 12:30pm, half an hour before the train arrived in Lisbon. The interview conducted by Emissora Nacional only went on the air a long time later.
Before all this, he had been writing with Humberto Branco, of Rádio Clube Português, the daily programme Clube da Juventude (10:30pm - 00:00am), since February 1967. The phrase to accompany the programme's theme music was “In every young man there is a man, in every man there was a young man; keep the young in you". Apart from records, the directors' concern was to have cultural sections on literature, plastic arts, stamp collecting, jazz, aviation, poetry, physical culture, concert music and listener participation through letters. Another show he formed part of was, Norte 67, in the second half of 1967, with interviews of personalities of the culture and arts world. In his memoirs written in a blog, ambassador Francisco Seixas da Costa recalls that, at the age of 18, he presented himself in the Porto studios, in rua de Ceuta street, asking for "a job", while pretending to be studying engineering. Alfredo Alvela opened the doors of his Clube da Juventude, where for months he performed Tempo de Teatro, with text by João Guedes and a jingle with an echo, which was recorded in the building’s elevator shaft. The ambassador also remembers that, sometimes, late at night, Rui de Melo would hand him the broadcast of Onda Noturna, where he would “play records” and say serene banalities, in the tone that the programme required.
Alfredo Alvela was one of the professionals who moved from Porto to Lisbon (there were professionals who went in the opposite direction, such as Rogério Leal, who spent his whole career working for Emissora Nacional, and Ilídio Inácio, who only left Santarém for Emissores do Norte Reunidos). His work on the PBX programme (of Parodiantes de Lisboa) was essential for this transfer. Therefore, Alfredo Alvela was also part of the laughter of Parodiantes de Lisboa. He played various roles in Radio Crime, alongside Rui Andrade (author of the texts and with the character Ventoinha), Callaty Santos (Buraquinho) and José Andrade (Inspector Patilhas). He also worked on Ruy Castelar's programmes, even living in his house for some time.
In July 1974, João Paulo Guerra and Alfredo Alvela boarded a TAP flight to Bissau. They had both worked on the PBX programme. They were the only passengers, the former reporting for Emissora Nacional, the latter for Rádio Clube Português. In Bissau they helped each other as much as possible and witnessed events such as the general strike of 3 August 1974, in Bissau, on the anniversary of the Pidjiguiti massacre. João Paulo Guerra separated from his colleague because he got the exclusive right to travel to areas of Guinea controlled by the PAIGC. Alfredo Alvela said goodbye with the sentence: "a friend does not hold back his friend". So, they drank a farewell and João Paulo Guerra headed to Canjambari. Among Alfredo Alvela's other works as a reporter, I highlight that of 1975 in Helsinki, when he covered the European Security Conference, as part of the delegation of the President of the Republic, General Costa Gomes. He did a fantastic report at the funeral of the singer José Afonso (February 1987).
In the final years of his life, Alfredo Alvela returned to Porto, to RDP-Antena 1, the city where he died on 1 February 1994, when he lived in a boarding house in rua Galeria de Paris street, parallel to rua Cândido dos Reis, the site of RDP's Porto office. The reporter and, subsequently a university professor, Ana Isabel Reis would cross paths with him in 1988-1989, when he was back in Porto. José Gabriel Viegas was director of information at the time and he had returned to Porto on recommendation of António Bondoso. The funeral ceremonies were held at Trindade Church.