Male and Female Announcers from Colombia: A Symphony of Voices

By: Richard Hernández,

Today we celebrate in our country the Day of the Announcer, a recognition for those teachers of the microphone who have accompanied us since that September 8, 1929, when for the first time, the voice of a Colombian was heard on the radio station, known as la HJN, which was inaugurated by the president of the time, Miguel Abadía Méndez.

In the 1940s, according to historians, the first professional voice-overs appeared: Fernando and Carlos Gutiérrez Riaño, Tocayo Ceballos, Juan Francisco Reyes, Carlos Arturo Rueda C, among others. Before the formation of the pioneer links, the first radio broadcasting networks were developed: Caracol, Todelar and RCN. In 1954 Carlos Pinzón Moncaleano created the Colombian Association of Broadcasters to professionalize this activity.

Also in the 50s, new professionals arrived who would have a long career in Colombian radio: Teresa Gutiérrez, Humberto Martínez Salcedo, Hernán Castrillón Restrepo, Pastor Londoño Pasos, Gabriel Muñoz López, Sofía Morales, Julio Eduardo Pinzón, Bernardo Tobón de la Roche, Joaquín Marino López, Gaspar Ospina, Fernando Franco García and Julián Ospina, among others.

On this day we acknowledge the country’s broadcasters, highlighting in that kaleidoscope of voices, some that have left an indelible mark on the history of Colombian radio.

Cecilia Fonseca de Ibáñez (1927-2001)

Photo: Archive Signal Memory

He was born in Bogotá, into an upper-middle-class family. She was one of the first female presenters in the history of Colombian radio and one of the first women to study philosophy at the National University of Colombia. In this environment he met illustrious intellectuals such as Jaime Ibáñez, a poet whom he would later marry.

In 1943, he joined the Radiodifusora Nacional de Colombia where he made scripts, locution, programming and radio plays. Her ideology was closely linked to the feminist claim of the 1940s and 1950s. Cecilia Fonseca’s voice was read by the librettos written by illustrious Colombian characters: Julio Sánchez Reyes, Hernando Caro Mendoza, Hernando Salcedo Silva, Andrés Pardo, Guillermo Abadía Morales , among others,

Cecilia Fonseca also covered several musical festivals since the 70s, such as: National Band Festival (Paipa), Return Festival (Acacias, Meta), Religious Music Festival (Popayán), Andean Music Festival “Mono Núñez” (Geneva , Valle), and the Folkloric Festival of Los Llanos. The announcer loved Beethoven’s music, but also that of The Beatles and danced Lucho Bermúdez’s joints.

Gloria Valencia de Castaño (1927-2011)

Photo: HJCK

Known as the ‘First Lady’ of Colombian television, this woman from Ibiza was a great promoter of culture in our country. In 1950, together with her husband, Álvaro Castaño Castillo and other personalities, she started the station HJCK: El mundo en Bogotá, the first private cultural radio station. For many years she was a radio host in more than 25 cultural programs.

Valencia entered television since its inception in 1954. She presented the space ‘Meet the authors’, whose first broadcast was carried out with the teacher León de Greiff, thus establishing herself as the first female figure on Colombian television. As of 1957, she began working first with Punch, the pioneer of private programmers, on the program ‘Por los Caminos de la Patria’, and then with RTI, Cenpro and RCN.

In forty years of permanent ties to national television, Gloria Valencia de Castaño collaborated in more than twenty programs, standing out ‘Carta de Colombia’. This program was broadcast weekly by 16 stations around the world, and for it he won the Ondas Award given to him by Radio Barcelona, ​​a station on Cadena Ser in Spain. For several years he presented the events of the National Beauty Reign of Cartagena. Likewise, his leadership in the Naturalia program was important.

Judith Sarmiento

Photo: RTVC - Public Media SystemPhoto: RTVC – Public Media System

Born in Armenia, Sarmiento lived and grew up in Bogotá since she was 4 years old. He graduated in law and political science from the Externado de Colombia University. Then at the Universidad de la Sabana he made a specialization in organizational communication.

Sarmiento, who has won several awards such as the Simón Bolívar, began his radio career on the Todelar network in 1975. Later he worked at Caracol, at RCN, and on the program ‘Colombia responsable’ on Radio Nacional de Colombia, among others. In addition, she has been a professor of journalism, organizational communication, radio project, in several universities.

In 1980, he worked with Arturo Abella in his famous ‘Telediario’, to cover international issues. Then it went to the National Newscast. In 1985 he began to present the news program ‘TV Hoy’. In that newsletter it was where he was consecrated. His voice also went through public television, making a cultural newscast and presenting various programs and live broadcasts for the RTVC channels, Sistema de Medios Públicos.

Otto Greiffestein (1922-1994)

Photo: courtesy of the Greiffestein familyPhoto: courtesy of the Greiffestein family

It is considered one of the best commercial voices in the country. Born in Medellín, Otto studied library science at Columbia University in New York (USA), a profession he did not practice.

He began his career as a radio announcer in 1950, on the radio station La Voz de Bogotá. Then he went to RCN and Caracol where he made the program ‘La hora del Regreso’ famous. As a television presenter, he began with Punch Productions in various musical programs such as ‘Show de shows’ and ‘Noches de Colombia’.

His last job for television, as an announcer and presenter, was on the talk show ‘Panorama de producciones JES’. As an actor, Greiffestein stood out in the famous television series ‘Me y tú’. In cinema, he participated in the film ‘Husbands on vacation’.

Juan Harvey Caicedo (1937-2003)

This Caucano, known as ‘Juanito’ by his colleagues, developed his career mainly as a radio host working at RCN, HJCK and finally at Caracol where he was the official voice. During his professional career he was part of programs such as ‘La luciérnaga’ and ‘Pase la noche con Caracol’.

He was president of the Colombian Association of Broadcasters on several occasions and fought for his colleagues to have the voice over license. Apart from his work as an announcer, he was a popularizer of poetry and especially of llanero folklore. He participated in film productions such as ‘El río de las graves’ in 1964 and in several television novels such as ‘El Gallo de Oro’.

He was also the official announcer for the programmer Jorge Barón Televisión. In addition, he was the host of the television program ‘Nostalgia’. Juan Harvey Caicedo was recognized as one of the most requested commercial voices for various advertising products.

Jorge Antonio Vega placeholder image

Photo: Sandro Sánchez / RTVC - Public Media SystemPhoto: Sandro Sánchez / RTVC – Public Media System

He stood out as a broadcaster, businessman, news presenter, radio plays, contests, events and all kinds of radio and television broadcasts over several decades. Famous for the program ‘La hora Philips’, Vega began his career in 1950 where he imposed a style in reading the news.

After 35 years of working in ‘Nuevo mundo’, by Caracol, he passed through the Todelar, Melodía and Radio Super stations, and was also president of the Colombian Association of Broadcasters. Teachers such as Fernández Gutiérrez Riaño and Álvaro Monroy Guzmán inspired him to become the voice and image of numerous television programs and commercials. Armando Plata Camacho called him ‘Teacher of teachers’.

Gustavo Niño Mendoza

Photo: germanposada.comPhoto:

He began his career in 1970, in a radio station in Tunja, his native land. He arrived in Bogotá in 1977. In 1980 he received the Antena de la Consagración award, which helped him rise in commercial locution. He worked at Radio Vision de Caracol, a music station that played Mexican ballads and rock. There he was for several years and simultaneously on Radio Mil XX, also on the same radio station. He worked in La W, which at that time was called Caracol Estéreo and with the basic Caracol in 1981.

Subsequently, Gustavo Niño made various commercials with the large advertising agencies in the country. There were also contracts for the presentation of news on television, such as the ‘Promec’ newscast that was broadcast on weekends. There it lasted three and a half years. Then he fully entered Caracol radio as the announcer of the emblematic news program ‘Ultima hora Caracol’. He became the institutional announcer for that chain. The same happened at RCN.

He was also on the Melodía network, whose microphones have also been used by Tito Martínez, Rubén Darío Arcila, Jairo Alonso Vargas, Juliet Barrera and Fernando España, among others. He has received many awards from educational communication institutions and entertainment magazines.

Armando Plata Camacho

Photo: Uniminuto RadioPhoto: Uniminuto Radio

He is currently the president of the Colombian Association of Broadcasters (ACL). He has been a newscaster, radio programmer, director, manager of youth networks such as Radioacktiva, promoter of dozens of new figures in the song, as well as promoter, recorder, artistic entrepreneur and record producer.

His career began as an economic reporter for Emisoras Horizonte and a year later in 1967 he was the narrator of greyhound races for stations Mil XX. Caracol arrived a year later thanks to Julio Nieto Bernal who led him to read the ‘Repórter Esso’. At that time he was the youngest announcer in Colombia. That is why Julio Sánchez Vanegas baptized him as the ‘Chupo’, when he worked in JES productions.

Armando Plata Camacho made the country listen to rock & roll in the 1950s. He currently directs Global Hit, a program with the latest in music that is broadcast on more than 600 stations around the world. He is the youngest member to have joined the ACL and is its current president. ♦♦♦

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