8 de septiembre de 2006

Matí­as Prats: magic and memory of an innovator

Por Jesús Castañón Rodríguez

Matí­as Prats: magic and memory of an innovator

Jesús Castañón Rodríguez

Matías Prats Cañete ( Villa del Río, Córdoba, 1913-Madrid, 2004) studied A level in Málaga, then he graduated as technical engineer in the Escuela Industrial, after this, he graduated in television and radio programmer technician and finished his studies in the Escuela Oficial de Peridismo (Journalism Official School) in 1949.
His journalistic career is linked to the radio, film and televised journalism. In the first one, he worked in Radio Nacional de España between 1939 and 1985, first in Málaga (1939-1945) and after that in Madrid (1945-1985) where he was head of Broadcast Transmit Station Department (1947), head of broadcasting (1954) and commentator of sports and bullfighting broadcastings and in the Red de Emisoras del Movimiento channel. In the second one, he worked in the No-Do between 1947 and 1971 as an editor and commentator and as a director between 1974 and 1976. And finally, in the televised journalism, he was in Televisión Española from 1956 to 1974 and in 1981 and 1982 as commentator of broadcastings and with the responsibility of the Asesoría Técnica de la Dirección General between 1974 and 1981 in order to pay special attention to the influence in Latin America and in Antena 3 Televisión in the nineties of the 20th century to take part in the account of football matches.
This labour was valued by means of the Medalla de Oro al Mérito en el Trabajo in 1998 (Gold Medal to live up his work merit) and, among others, by means of the awards: «Premio Ondas» in 1955, 1965, 1999, «Micrófono de Oro» from the Association of Radio and Television Professionals in 1989, «Premio Víctor de la Serna» in 1993 and «Premio «Toda una vida 2000″» from the Board of the Spanish Academy of Sciences and Arts of Television.
On a political scope, he was member of a regional parliament dealing with Familiar Representation in Córdoba province between 1971 and 1976, and member of the National Defence, Information and Tourism Committees.
Founder member of the Spanish Academy of Sciences and Arts of Television, he is the author of the documentary Historia de Cinco Copas (Madrid, 1963) and of the book Guía erótica del fútbol (Madrid, 1991). He also took part in El idioma español en el deporte: guía práctica (Logroño, 1992) and El idioma español en el deporte (Madrid, 1994).

Matías Prats Museum

Matías Prats Museum
Matías Prats municipal sports centre
Avenida de Los Lirios s/n
14640 Villa del Río (Córdoba)
Arranged visits: (+34) 957 178 041
Timetable: Saturdays: from 12 to 14 p.m. and from 17 to 20 p.m.
Sundays: from 12 to 14 p.m.

The 8th of September, 2006 the death of the journalist Matías Prats is in its second anniversary, the Spanish audiovisual journalist whose work had also influence on America.

In January of this year, Villa del Río opened a museum to collect and show graphic documents, sonorous files, memories and prizes.

It is organized into two big areas. At the entrance, the visitor is welcomed by the commentator’s bust holding the microphone to be taken through his personal and professional life.

It is present the boy’s childhood who wrote poetry and was recommended by the teacher from the school of Villa del Río to the owner of Radio Córdoba in order to recite some verse lines on the Christmas programme and in public…Young people appear marked by a poet and actor vocation which would be complemented to journalism; moreover, he is highlighted from the familiar tradition based on the liking to speak to keep the others entertained and get rich personally speaking to the foundation in 1965 of the Peña Cultural, Deportiva and Asistencial Matías Prats (Cultural, Sports and Welfare Folk Club Matías Prats) and his fishing trophy.

On the screen some videos resound like the ones based on the accounts of the main goals scored by Zarra and Marcelino with the Spanish national football team in 1950 and 1964, which were broadcasted by No-Do and Televisión Española, as well as the memory of the teams Florentina-Real Madrid in 1958, the first international match broadcasted in Spain.

Recording teams, microphones glasses and countless pictures come alive accompanied by other radio and television stars like Bobby Deglané, José María García, Vicente Marco, José Luis Pécker or Joaquín Prat.

A watchful look lets the visitor go through his career on the radio, since his start in Algeciras during the Civil War bringing up the rear and professional beginning on Radio Nacional de España in Málaga.

He will know that the interest in football broadcastings was instilled to him by Salvador Rueda, director of Radio Nacional de España in Málaga.

This visitor will know the fondness for the football broadcastings was inculcated in him by Salvador Rueda, director in Radio Nacional de España in Málaga. He will know that a Betis-Málaga match in 1942 was the first match he told, and also the first international match he told together with Enrique Mariñas took place in Lisbon. And he will discover his eagerness to rope in the listener’s attention, his liking for graphic descriptions to understand dangerous situations, his marvellous memory full of anecdotes, histories, quotations, quotes and other data in the service of the account during the spare real time in the matches…

Furthermore, he will understand key points with regard to his way of working: the memorizing of line-ups, physical features and right pronunciation of names, the use of tourist data based on the places where the matches were played, the combination of the detailed and descriptive narrative with the summary comment, the more subjective and passionate tone in the international matches of the national side and the clubs…

And the application of some principles of action on the radio. Firstly, the use of common rules for a good transmission: truthfulness, objectivity, adaptation between narrative rhythms and play, appropriate interpolation of explanations, value judgement and analysis. Secondly, the application of complementary rules to: lexicon, voice inflections, intonation, exclamation, use of the environmental sound, eloquent pauses or creators of excitement, emotional control, use of surnames or appellatives and theatre display of the results to transmit moods to the audience. And thirdly, the tendency to highlight the virtues and fade away the faults like the conversion of a «monumental failure of Grifa, who being alone before the goalkeeper, receives the ball and despite all he scored a goal» into a nice «the centre back, making a supine effort, stretched his right leg impetuously but the tip of the laced boot couldn’t coincide with the parabola which described the ball. In spite of such setback, he got to increase the scoreboard».

However, television shows the primacy of the image over the comment, in such a way that the commentator works according to what the producer gives to him and he confines to set captions.

Although the memory of the fans links Matías Prats figure to the transmissions of boxing, football and bullfights, his career has consisted of sports accounts based on chess, billiards, boxing, horse racings, football, roller hockey and tennis.

In the second room, the visitor travels around trophies, professional memories, titles and diplomas, photos and honours received in such a long career.

The playing court of the memory
The Museum where the most relevant aspects of Matías Prats can be appreciated is a court for the liking of well-done work or at least the one as better as possible done too. For the memory of an innovator of the good connected discourse which has been favourable to the most precise use of the language, he set the learned word of sport in the service of the popular thing and improved the radio styles of the previous generations.

Firstly, when an in-depth diction was contributed together with a power in the voice modulation to recreate the crowd vibration in the stadium, to create a precise emphasis and an emotion measured by means of the intonation curves in the accounts.

Secondly, when he helped the American commentators to overcome the difficulties to pronounce the sound of the «z» replacing it by «f».

Thirdly, when new words and images were created to get a great descriptive capacity: the names of the teams distinguished by the colour of the shirts, images like the «ball goes past very near the pier of the post» and above all, the orientation system of the listener for the distribution of the football players and the play around the field. He split the zone into two parts (A and B) and 16 positions around the pitch, the European and American radio stations used to give way to a strategy and geometry art based on «the centre circle», «the area semicircle», «halfway line for both teams»…in order to place the listener mentally on the pitch and make his imagination come into play.

And fourthly, when in the International Conference «El idioma español en el deporte» which was held in 1992 owing to the Olympic Games organized in Barcelona, he contributed a list of cliché expressions and idioms by means of which a report made up of twenty pages could be written changing the main figures’ names only.

For all the sport and the art of bullfighting enthusiasts, from both sides of the Atlantic, the walk along the magic and the memory of one of the pioneers of the communication in the 20th century is recommendable.

Bibliographical references
ARIAS RUIZ, Aníbal: Cincuenta años de radiodifusión en España. Madrid: Radio Televisión Española, 1973.
BURGOS, Antonio: «El fútbol codificado de Marías Prats», El Mundo de Andalucía, Sevilla, 6 de febrero de 1998.
– «El poeta del micrófono», Abc, Madrid, 10 de septiembre de 2004.
CAMPMANY, Jaime: «Mi compañero de viaje», Abc, Madrid, 10 de septiembre de 2004.
CANAL PLUS: Epílogo: Matías Prats. Madrid: Canal Plus, 10 de septiembre de 2004.
CASTAÑÓN RODRÍGUEZ, Jesús: Reflexiones lingüísticas sobre el deporte. Valladolid: edición del autor, 1995.
– «El museo de Matías Prats», La Nueva España, Oviedo, 16 de enero de 2006.
DÍAZ, Lorenzo: La radio en España, 1923-1993. Madrid: Alianza Editorial, 1993.
DÍAZ PRIETO, Luisa: Matías Prats, todo un mito. Córdoba: Ayuntamiento de Villa del Río y Diputación de Córdoba, 2000.
EZCURRA, Luis: Historia de la radiodifusión española. Madrid: Editora Nacional, 1974.
GABILONDO, Iñaki: «No hagas caso, exageran», El País, Madrid, 10 de septiembre de 2004.
GARCÍA CANDAU, Julián: «Todos de luto», La Razón, Madrid, 9 de septiembre de 2004.
GARCÍA LLANOS, Salvador: «Siempre nos quedará su elocuencia», As, Madrid, 14 de septiembre de 2004.
MALVAR, Luis: La radio deportiva en España, 1927-2004. Madrid: Pearson Educación, 2005.
MARIÑAS, Enrique: «La radiación de partidos de fútbol con campo cuadriculado», Sintonía número 20, Madrid, 15 de marzo de 1948.
MARTÍN FERRAND, Manuel: «El mundo de la comunicación llora a Matías Prats, la voz del siglo XX», Abc, Madrid, 10 de septiembre de 2004.
MUNSÓ CABÚS, Juan: Cuarenta años de radio (1940-1980). Barcelona: Picazo, 1980.
– Cincuenta años de Radio Nacional de España. Escrito en el aire. Madrid: Radiotelevisión Española, 1988.
OLMO, Luis del: «El espejo donde nos miramos», El País, Madrid, 10 de septiembre de 2004.
PRATS, Matías-SÁNCHEZ FORNÉS, Santiago: Guía erótica del fútbol. Madrid: Temas de Hoy, 1991.
SALAZAR, Bernardo de: «Se nos marchó el máximo goleador de nuestro fútbol», As, Madrid, 10 de septiembre de 2004.