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The man with a housand faces

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Fernando Alvim is one of the most multifaceted communicators at the national level. He owns his own style of interviewing, presenting programs and writing humor that delight the listeners, viewers and readers who have been with him for more than 20 years.

You are a broadcaster, a presenter, a comedian and an entrepreneur, you have a series of facets, which one defines you? Or not?
Fernando Alvim: It has nothing to do with one that defines me better. I am a series of things and not one. There are those who like to do only one, I'm in a lot of them and people ask me how I can do so much? I usually say that is the only way to do each of them, that is, if I had only one facet I might have already gotten bored and gave up. So, I do so much, I'm changing and it's how I live.

How can you manage the time, because you also write everything, when you do a live program prepare yourself before?
FA: No, when I do a live show, I never write. My preparation comes from reading a lot, newspapers and magazines, I read about the people I'm going to interview, but also for me, to feed myself cerebrally. The result of all this makes me have a real interest in knowing about the person in front of me, whom I am interviewing. There is a common mistake in the interviewers who do not listen to what the interviewee is saying, makes them very focused on the questions they are asking and not what the guest says.

Is like it was a barrier?
FA: It's not like there's something stiff about the questions. You know the next question is if I am from Benfica, which is true and it seems that you are not listening to what the person is telling you and you do not ask a question because of this. Now the advantages of a guest realizing that you are aware of what they say are many, first, you show audacity, acumen and you are quick to deal with this question, you automatically generate more respect and possibly more demand for your answers. If you are predictable, without no flame and nothing unexpected, you can make your guest realize that you are not different from the others and you become vulgarized by the look of the person you interview. When people come to interview me and ask me clichés, like, tell us about a remarkable episode in your life? Or in a band, why do they call themselves that? Or what is your sound? This shows that the interviewer does not have the least knowledge about who is interviewing and will not be as respected as he or she could be.

Yes, this is all very good when you have a respondent like you who says a lot of things, or others who give a lot of feedback, but there are minimalists in their speech and so what do you do?
FA: I usually use a tactic that is this, I never blame the referee, I never blame the guest. Why am I the one doing the interview? And not that gentleman who walks down the street? It is not by making the interview easy, both the gentleman who walks down the street, as I could do, interviewing someone like Manuel Luís Goucha is easy, because it is someone who loves to talk, anyone can do it. The difference between any one person and myself is that I will save the hard one, which is why you are there and they pay you at the end of the month, people pay me not to solve an easy problem, but to deal with the difficult, when I have one of those guests that says nothing, it's monosyllabic, I must save the program. I give you an example, a few years ago I interviewed a storyteller, of course I asked him if he could tell us a story, he did not want it and I asked this question five times over the program and five times he said he did not want to tell a story and I had to tell one, the program was remarkable for me because that's what happened. I had to try harder to save this situation that was surreal, because you have a storyteller who does not tell you stories and you have a one-hour program. So, you're going to talk about what? I think I saved the program.

When you finish a program, or even in the air, will you see the feedback you receive?
FA: No, it's very rare. The point is this, I do not want any kind of commentary to interfere with my audacity, courage and go home thinking about what I read yesterday. So, for some years I have not read the good things, not the bad ones.

Do you fix your Wikipedia?
FA: I never went to see it, I do not know how my Wikipedia is, I do not want to know.

Have you ever gone to Google to do a search for your name?
FA: No, I never did, I never went to see it. For me, what people tell me on the street is what interests me. It is not virtuality.

So, what are the key features that a communicator should have?
FA: You must like people, you must know how to communicate with them, more than talk, you should listen, that is the great secret.

Why did you create a publisher just for comedians?
FA: Because it did not exist and I thought it might be a good way to edit books. There were no publishers for humor I thought was a good way to create a different stamp. For me has no meaning, for example, if there is a restaurant that sells tuna and I open one that only has this fish and not another, or I do something that is distinctive, original and clearly something that will accomplish me, otherwise, it is not worth it, though I not very good doing business, so I'm comfortable doing that.

You also helped create a TV channel.
FA: Yes, I am a creative person, nothing passive, I do not expect people to remember me, or invite me to projects, it is I remember myself in the first instance and then I propose these ideas to the people as I create them. I am very dependent on my own ideas, which depend on others to approve them, but they are mine.


How have you been a public personality for several years, on radio and TV, should it be easier to accept the projects you propose? Hence the Q-channel?
FA: It is possible that it is so, it is the natural order of life, the recognition may in the end give us a respectability, but age is not a post, nor will it ever be, you will never hear it from my mouth, now I do not have to prove anything to no one. Life is a continuous test of non-resignation. I realized that with age I became more critical still and less resigned what is an incredible thing, but it is true.


Are you less afraid of being different too?
FA: I was never afraid to be different. No less, no more. Never had. I have always preferred originality to the detriment of more of the same. It's not my whole purpose.


So how do you divide yourself into a thousand and one tasks, you have time to read ...
FA: Yes, I have a life. This is essential.


And you have a social life?
FA: Yes, I do.


Are you a ruled person with your schedules?
FA: I am not, but I know how to create spaces for my life and this is fundamental.


And when do you have time to read, since you read so much?
FA: Look, I read, for example, at night, when I lie down, I read an hour. On Sunday night, I go to the radio and read for five to six hours all the newspapers and take notes about who I want to interview.


And what are you reading at night?
FA: I'm reading a book by Beckett that has three novels, "The Unspeakable," "Molloy," and "Murphy." This writer is sort of a Messi of literature, I like that.


And do you still read newspapers and magazines on paper? Or is it all online?
FA: I usually read many on paper.


Still buy them?
FA: It's not necessary,  in the radio it has all the newspapers and magazines I read, but I buy many magazines, I'm not totally miter, which is not bad.

And do you believe that the paper version will disappear from the media?
FA: I believe that. I think it will not disappear completely, but will suffer a great wear. Nobody wants to read yesterday's news when you're only interested in today's news.

And what advice would you give to a young person who is starting a career in this area of communication where there is so much dispersion and information flows from all sides?
FA: I think it’s going to win the one that invest the most in themselves. You should read, you should be more informed and take courses that make you stronger than others. The idea of having a diploma and thinking that we do not have to study anymore, frankly is an obsolete idea. I think we must study every day, to evolve, to become more competent and better than others, to play a better role.

And be multitasker? Like you are spread out over several areas?
FA: I think polyvalence is important because you are not safe in just one strand. Much more these days, if you fail one valence you have another, I think it is easily understandable.

I have a curiosity, you started on the so-called pirate radio, which no longer exist, but you are not only in this middle, as you do podcast.
FA: I make a podcast that is becoming a reality for me to discover talent in the media without needing anyone, not even a radio to broadcast. It is increasingly difficult to go to a radio with a program that accepts you, this no longer exists and it is good. You can radio on "YouTube", you have the “you tubers” and that makes you dependent on yourself.

And do you recognize any of these new talents that you are listening to in the podcast or on YouTube?
FA: No, I'm always alert about this and there has not yet appeared someone who stood out in the new talents.

Do you think that the Portuguese do not appreciate them?
FA: No, I think there are excellent communicators, I will not say names because I think it would be unfair to someone. We have very good talent, so in the field of humor we have many.

And which of these talents that you like?
FA: We have Salvador Martinha, Bruno Nogueira and Ricardo Araújo Pereira who are not new talents, they are completely settled. These are people who make me laugh a lot.

Do you think that the Portuguese are now more receptive to these means of digital propagation? We are a people that in the beginning of the internet we were not very receptive to the publication of contents.
FA: Of course, nowadays, we see that the most shared and commented videos are those of humor. It is clearly the medium of greater sharing and greater recognition on the internet.

So, you're a fan of YouTube?
FA: I'm not dependent on “YouTube”, in the sense of being a big fan, I'm a consumer, but I do not go there every day.

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