António Jorge Branco (1937-2011) was a journalist and professor of matters concerning radio, defined as a man of the construction and master of his craft. He had been an amateur radio enthusiast when he made programmes at one of the stations of Emissores do Norte Reunidos (Porto), before going to Angola as a civil engineer, where he made roads. He could travel, for example, from Lobito to Luanda to do a radio programme, his passion. As his brother José Mário Branco, a musician, went into exile in France, he also feared for his safety and went to France, too. In France, he never did radio, but he listened to it.
The mythical story told about him is that immediately after 25 April 1974, he got on his motorbike and travelled directly from Paris to Lisbon, where he went into the radio newsrooms and announced, “I’ve arrived”. He joined Emissora Nacional and immediately changed the news, abandoning the routine hierarchy of information - president of the Republic, president of the council of ministers, minister. After that date, the news could open with a strike, or a worker talking about the strike, possibly the most important news. Endowed with a great capacity for work and an enormous capacity for synthesis, António Jorge Branco produced the information as it had been done in France. At the end of 1975 he was in charge of the editorial staff of the morning news (António Pais in the afternoon and Eduardo Paz Ferreira at night). He became sub-director of information at RDP, at a time when Antena 1, Antena 2, Rádio Comercial and Rádio Comercial FM were being created. He became a journalist working for Radiodifusão Portuguesa (RDP) in 1978. A colleague would say of him that he was capable of designating himself to do early mornings when there were no people in the newsroom.
In March 1981, when the new government's electoral programme put forward the proposal to re-privatise radio, TSF - Cooperativa de Profissionais de Rádio would be created, composed of Adelino Gomes, Albertino Antunes, António Jorge Branco, António Rego, Armando Pires, David Borges, Duarte Soares, Emídio Rangel, Fernando Alves, Jaime Fernandes, Joaquim Furtado, João Canedo, José Videira, Mário Pereira and Teresa Moutinho. On the radio station, which read the news every half hour, he was responsible for various programmes, including Dicionário da Rádio, Lendas e Calendas and Portugal Passado (a radio drama series that recreated the most important episodes in Portuguese history). Many of these delightful items - to be studied with rigour - are kept in the TSF archive.
For example, Lendas e Calendas were short stories, based on Portuguese legends, linked or not to historical facts. The conception, narration and direction belonged to him and the editing and digital mixing was done by Luís Borges, which aired on TSF between October 2006 and June 2007. Years before, he had devoted his passion to Dicionário da Rádio. I recall, for example, the Água na Radio show, where, after referring to Hendel's Watermusic, he showed examples of live misfortune such as a song dedicated to bald listeners or Beethoven's symphony having four movements - first, second, third, fourth.
The broadcaster was also president of the Ethics Council of the Journalists' Union. Those who knew him said he was still a maker of happiness, although with a complicated temperament. Sometimes he would sit and play on a piano in a bar in Ribeira do Porto the songs of the great song festivals, in an atmosphere of extraordinary socialising. António Jorge Branco had a red Citroen 2 CV car which he used to cross the Marão Hills (he taught in Vila Real). Another notable accessory was the mouthpiece for his cigarette.
A pioneer of radio training, he integrated the nucleus of monitors of the RDP improvement courses in 1977 (even before the Frenchman Édouard Guibert, who would update radio culture in 1979). He was a teacher at the Journalists Training Centre (CFJ, Porto, 1983), and at the Protocol Centre of Professional Training for Journalists (Cenjor, Lisbon, 1986).
In the early 1990s, António Jorge Branco was a radio journalism teacher at the Higher College of Journalism. The first subject he taught was press review. A former student recalls: "You spread the newspapers on the table, then you get in the helicopter and start hovering over the front pages; you collect the highlights, the common news and try to catch a few more that jump out at you. Then they land the helicopter and do the press review" (https://meiosdeproducao.blogspot.com/2011/07/antonio-jorge-branco-1937-2011.html). He could not stand late arrivals for the studio class, even marking those who arrived late as absent. Each student had to listen to a news report, discuss it and, then, starting from the newspapers or the registered news material, make his own report, trying to have a natural, coherent, round, colloquial and clear speech, in order to emphasize a certain fact or matter, when it was justified, but always directed to the listener. Many times, while the students were preparing the news, he would call the TSF editorial office in Lisbon to criticise or praise the journalist who had read the news.
Original text with images, at https://radio.hypotheses.org/4125.
Autor: Rogério Santos, 2021.