Home Edizioneed. 11 DJ Albertino: Voices on Frequency

DJ Albertino: Voices on Frequency

 “I have never been interested in being famous, I like to put on records!

Written by Monica Landro
Photos by Davide Pizzi

Albertino, born Alberto Di Molfetta, is definitely an icon of dance music, radio, and entertainment. He has made generations dance, laugh and stick to Deejay Time. His warm voice and magnetic presence have made him a reference figure in the DJ environment but also among ordinary people, thanks to his communication skills. In fact, Albertino is not only a talented DJ but also a real showman who knows how to involve the audience with his overwhelming charisma.

Yet he is also a simple man, who greets us in his office in Via Massena, Milan with an almost shy smile and who answers our questions with politeness, with reflection, almost with astonishment, in the face of the fait accompli that objectively he is an immense talent and has marked unforgettable moments in the history of radio.

Dj Time was a reference of the 90s, it brought dance culture to Italy. You brought national and international trends and successes through this programme. When did you realise the scope your programme had and the fact that you were the needle of the scales of success that then happened?
I think I realised it later, much later although there were a couple of moments that made me really aware of what was happening. One was when we started coming out of radio. In those years we had happened to be asked by some record company to do a showcase of some international band they were going to launch in Italy. We were asked for Kris Kross at Rolling Stone and once for East 17 at Palatrussardi (now Palasharp ed.). On that occasion we were asked to do a live radio broadcast, with DJ Time containing this live show of the guest band. In both cases, with the arena sold out, the audience was there for us, not for them… and so we realised that something was happening ! There was also pressure from the record companies: at a certain moment I was really the needle of the scales and so there was a competition to give me the news so that I would then play it on the radio.

albertino 2

You turned the dance market around…
If you look at the charts from that period, the top 20 positions are of the dance music I was playing in DJ Time. I give credit for that, for having an intuition in understanding in the early 90s that a big musical revolution was happening and everything that was happening was happening in the DJ circuit of house, dance and rap, which are still mainstream genres today. Which then, actually, if I look back I was also a lot harder, it’s not like I was just putting out Corona with ‘The rhythm of the night’ … we were putting out heavy techno, even bold stuff, at two in the afternoon.

That was the time when the boys came home from school….
And indeed my focus was the tenageer, what radio has completely lost today. But back then, they would come back from school and they liked to listen to something that was close to their way of being, their language, their slang… all these things made DjTime become an atomic bomb.

Just talking about today’s teenagers, two parallel worlds separate GenZ and adults. Actually, you are right at the intersection point: both age groups like you. In your opinion, where does your appeal lie?
Maybe I’ve lost the very young people a little bit too because nowadays they are very much on trap, even if I’ve always been there on that: I’m thinking of Bando by Anna, Shekerando by Rhove, Ghali… I recently did an M2O night in Turin and there were a lot of young guys. I was a bit surprised by that and I ask: how come?

Is it a charm that you do not recognise?
I am so glad, it is an achievement but I would like to understand why. Maybe the secret is not to focus on the demographic target but on a type. It’s a question of mentality. Here, look, my ideal community is this: the young-minded one. After all, I am like that: I am curious and I like innovations, discoveries, it’s part of my nature…

Do kids stop you in the street?
The other day a guy stopped me and said, “You launched Fabri Fibra, you’re great!”
“How do you know that?”
“I follow his interviews on the web and he said: you are a number one”.
You understand that for me it’s a huge gratification….

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Is it more beautiful and challenging when you are behind the microphone in the studio or when you are behind the console in the club?
They are two different emotions, but my comfort zone is still the radio, for several reasons. When I started I was a very shy kid with a great passion for music. I was in love with radio voices. Leopardo above all, who was my idol, so the radio allowed me to express myself without anyone seeing me.

But right from the start you have also done television: Dj Television, Italia Uno, even Zelig. Do you feel more of a TV or radio star?
Absolutely radio friendly and I’m proud of that! To become so popular just by using your voice, I think it’s a record. You know, with the face, you just have to be pleasant and a lot is done. Television gives you great notoriety but sometimes without much credit. Radio, on the other hand, is more complex. You have to know how to say things… And anyway, I wasn’t interested in being famous, well-known, having the audience. I liked putting out records! The thrill for me was having a new record in my hands and thinking I was going to put it on the radio!

Today, do you think you have anyone to thank for this journey of yours?
I thank those who gave me the freedom to express myself. I don’t forget Enrico Rovelli who was my first employer who got me working at Radio Music and then at Rolling Stone. Then of course also Claudio Cecchetto who called me to Radio DJ. I was also in conflict with him because I wanted to do more but I must admit that he gave me the confidence. Consider that I was surrounded by giants. Working with Gerry Scotti, Amadeus, Fiorello, Jovanotti, Linus. I had to struggle a bit, find my own way….

But you too have become a giant…so who should thank you for your success?
Huh, a lot of people… but I never asked for anything. I’ve always had this approach to music, of wanting to release songs and just wanting to have the artist’s appreciation in return, I have made many people rich or famous, but I have never asked for anything in return… a ‘thank you’ is enough.

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Among your talents was your ability to create neologisms that have remained in the common language of the Italian people: “Piach”, “Vai Alba, bella lì”, “Ooookey!” and “VaaaaBene!”. Which of these 90s/2000s catchphrases do you still feel on you?
It depends. For some I am Marco Ranzani and that’s it. For others I am the one with the cassette tape. For others, I am the one who discovered Fibra, Article 31, hip hop. I don’t know… there are still all these parts of me. They all belong to me.

Artificial intelligence is already here: how much does it feel like an opportunity, a drive, and how much does it worry you as a speaker, as a jingle creator, as a producer…?
Not worried, I am intrigued by what could be done with artificial intelligence. Basically, however, the input must come from the human being. There has to be the intuition, the idea of a human being, but if AI can then help us speed up the work, then great. If, on the other hand, it has to replace some figures, then it is no fun.

For five years, you have been artistic director of M20. What is the strength of this radio station and what is its weakness?
The strong point is me, with all my humility… no just kidding… the strong point is its precise identity. We filled a gap because we didn’t overlap with any other radio stations, except local ones, at the limit.

The weak point is perhaps in the limit we have in national coverage, a point I work on every day. Despite this, M2O is the radio station of the group that has gained the most in terms of listeners, proportionally of course also because Radio DJ is still the mother of us all.

alberto 8But you moved from there….
Some people thought I was crazy when I left there. Radio DJ is an end point for everyone, let’s face it. But DJ went in a direction that was no longer mine, which is right for her, but I had a different nature: I was more connected to music, to a certain kind of world, there you could experiment less, there was too much talk and so I made this choice… and today I tell you more: I should have made it earlier.

In Via Massena, on each floor there is a radio of the group. Which floor do you really feel at home on?
Well, from the whole building. For me it’s a single entity where a lot is shared, from the co-workers to the speakers. Synergy is fundamental between the radio stations in the group. Before, M2O was trolling, initially we needed Radio DJ to make ourselves known, today it’s all reciprocal. We have listeners that DJ does not have and vice versa. From an editorial point of view, we offer a complete package for all age groups.

TV, done. Radio, done. Buildings, done. Theatres, done. Books, done. But aren’t you tired? Don’t you feel like retiring a little? Or do you still have something to do, that will amaze us?
I look for it. Since it’s just as you say, then I look for enthusiasm, new stimuli, be it forum nights or the radio challenge…

After 35 years you’re not tired, in short…
No, not tired. I slowed down, maybe. I have organised myself better. Before, I used to live with this anxiety of working all the time even at weekends, of doing gigs all the time. Now, instead, I have to give up some dates. Everything is much easier. I try to find time for me too. I love normality, simple things… I like going for walks in the countryside. Our work always puts us in the middle of the hustle and bustle, so I like to get away from it all and it helps me regain that enthusiasm.

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