Radio Colifata: A Radio Show Run by Psychiatric Patients

Buenos Aires has the world’s first and largest radio station broadcast live from a psychiatric hospital — Radio Colifata. The motto of Radio Colifata, the founder Dr. Alfredo Olivera explains, is “To create bridges where there are walls.” “It started,” he says, “by accident.” As a young, idealistic psychology student, Olivera interned at El Borda in the early nineties. “I found a lot of my friends and family kept asking me what it was like in there,” he explains. “I decided to let the patients tell them.” He started a radio workshop. Not as strange as it sounds in a psychiatric hospital that offers tango workshops, circus workshops, a patient-run bakery and an artist’s cultural center where the community and university students also come to paint.

The patients, known as Los Colifatos, run the show. Later, the pieces get edited and cut vignettes are interspersed on other national radio programs throughout the week.

Documentary film: LT22 Radio La Colifata

During his Argentina tour, the artist Manu Chao invited a few Colifatos to join him. LT22 Radio La Colifata is a documentary shot over ten years celebrates the station and the tour. In the film, Hugo offers a simple and profound reflection in front of 10,000 concertgoers in Buenos Aires. As he walks off stage with his turtle grin, he turns to the camera and says, “That was better than a million pills or any professional.”

Population of focus: Patients in a psychiatric hospital

Link to resources: