8 Best Italian Radio Stations for Learning the Language
Even in an era dominated by TED Talks and YouTube, the radio remains an important and enduring aspect of Italian culture.
It serves as a great audio resource with many giant news media organizations.
You can use Italian radio to improve your listening and comprehension skills, grow vocabulary and grammar knowledge and even hone speaking skills.
How? Stayed tuned, ascoltatore (listener)! Today we find out.
- 1. Radio24
- 2. Rai Radio
- 3. Italia.FM
- 4. Radio Italy Live
- 5. Radio Radicale
- 6. ICN Radio
- 7. Radio Italia
- 8. Radio Popolare
- How to Listen to the Radio for Learning
Radio24 is one of the most well-known Italian talk radio stations. These shows cover topics on everything from politics to culture to finance and economy. Learners have the option of listening to the radio in diretta (live) or of listening to previous shows such as News in diretta (live news) or the Borse in diretta.
Their previous clips often include short summaries (some as short as 30 seconds) of daily news stories, so this is perfect for listening to the same segment multiple times to enhance comprehension. In addition to daily shows, Radio24 offers a wide selection of podcasts, and the website has written news stories that often coincide with the radio stories.
This radio station can be used to learn a variety of vocabulary including everyday speech, technical language and “news speak.”
2. Rai Radio
Rai is a large media presence in Italy, and it’s also well-known in the English-speaking world. In fact, it’s owned by the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance. Rai covers a number of different topics, so you can choose from multiple shows, including talk shows, news or music.
If you’re a beginner, Rai has several programs geared towards children, which you can find under Radio Kids and are typically simpler in their language.
For advanced learners, there’s also Rai Radio Techete, which is a live feed of classic Italian radio shows from the past. Listeners can access recordings of old radio shows from the past 60 years of Italian radio, such as old sports broadcasts, news broadcasts and interviews. You can even listen to radio teleplays of classic novels such as “War and Peace” in Italian.
Italia.FM offers listeners a hefty selection of stations to choose from. It offers the basics, plus ones you may not be aware of yet. There are stations that get listened to every day in Italy, so you’re getting a truly authentic experience.
You have plenty of choice in the way of genre. Listeners can tune in to a number of different music types, ranging from hip-hop to love songs to classics. Even beyond that, you can easily tune in to some Italian sports coverage.
These stations are probably best suited to intermediate to advanced learners, as they’re again made by and for Italians who live in Italy.
4. Radio Italy Live
Not all Italian resources come from Italy itself, thanks to the work of Italian immigrants across the world.
Radio Italy Live is a simple, useful little stream that easily broadcasts Italian music and culture. The station is sourced directly from New York City rather than Italy, and it plays a large selection of Italian-made music.
The station can also be accessed through its Android app, or straight through a mobile web browser. It’s best suited for intermediate or advanced students, but it never hurts for even the newest Italian learners to absorb some Italian culture and art, even if they don’t quite understand it yet.
5. Radio Radicale
Radio Radicale (Radical Radio) offers live talk radio as well as recordings on their website. Shows on this station include standard news shows as well as interviste (interviews) and dibattiti (debates).
While the radio has a political edge, this station is a great way for learners to become familiar with formal Italian as well as lingo often used in radio/university settings.
This radio station is ideal for those who are interested in politics and economy. There is a large amount of political jargon used, and it would be helpful to learn a bit about the Italian political system and Italy’s political parties prior to listening. Interestingly, the station also offers video recordings of what happens in the Italian parliament when it is in session.
6. ICN Radio
For learners who are interested in Italian music, ICN Radio is your radio station. Positioning itself as la voce italiana in America (the Italian voice in America), the radio station is specifically for Italian speakers who live in the United States, particularly the Italian community in the Tri-State area.
The station offers a number of shows that combine Italian music with Italian talk such as the music program Live con Pinerolo (Live with Pinerolo), which features popular musicians and artists, and the talk program Ciao Tony (Hello Tony).
It’s perfect for learners trying to learn an informal version of Italian or the specific Italian dialect spoken by Italians in New England.
7. Radio Italia
Like ICN Radio, Radio Italia (Italy Radio) also has a strong focus on Italian music. Shows include Italian music playlists, interviews with Italian musicians and Italian popular culture such as Italian celebrities, tv shows and movies.
Because of the radio stations’ content, Radio Italia is a great way to learn informal Italian and even contemporary slang. However, take note: Their radio hosts speak rather quickly with large amounts of informal language, so be sure to brush up on that gergo (slang) before listening.
In addition to its audio selection, Radio Italia offers written articles about Italian pop culture.
8. Radio Popolare
Being one of the largest community radio stations in all of Europe, Radio Popolare (Popular Radio) is a left-leaning political radio station that specializes in information and current affairs. In addition to its political shows, its eclectic music selection often includes experimental and international music as well as Italian folk music.
On the talk radio side, this radio station is pretty heavy on politics and current affairs, but listeners can also find quirky radio gems such as Minima Astrologica (Minimal Astrology) by Marco Pesatori, a weekly show focused exclusively on astrology and the cosmos.
This station is best for learners who want a wide variety of Italian exposure, both mainstream and counter-cultural. In addition to their live radio feed, listeners can find podcasts as well as written components to many of their audio news stories.
How to Listen to the Radio for Learning
Now that we know that listening to the radio can be a great way to grow your Italian skills, what is the best way to do it?
- Break it up. Beginner Italian learners should aim to listen to the radio in 5-minute chunks. This is the perfect amount of time to get a feel for the radio spot, but not enough to become overwhelmed.
- Listen to the rhythm. Beginners should pay attention to the rhythm of the language, attempting to imitate speech patterns. Furthermore, beginners should aim to understand “the gist” of a radio segment: What key words do you understand, and what’s the main idea?
- Listen for grammar and understanding. Intermediate and advanced Italian learners should focus on grammatical constructions, vocabulary building and understanding the piece in-depth. These learners could benefit from listening with a notebook in order to record new sentence constructions and words that can be reviewed later.
- Reinforce what you’ve learned with other resources. Round out your studies with other resources like a good textbook or a new favorite TV show. The FluentU program, for instance, offers a library of authentic video clips like movie clips and fun commercials with interactive features such as subtitles, translations and quizzes. Since the quizzes also have typing and speaking questions, you’ll have all the main language skills covered.
Grab your cuffie (headphones), Italian learner. Plug in, relax and listen your way to Italian fluency!