Caffe' Italia - The art of language
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Foreign languages professor Francesco Fiumara and Rachael Domiano record their Italian radio show Caffé Italia for Southeastern’s radio station KSLU 90.9FM. Airing on Sunday nights from 8-9 p.m., Caffé Italia features music and special topics in Italian. Fiumara started the show in 2007 as a way to share Italian culture with the local community.
Rachael Domiano, Mass Communication Major
Francesco Fiumara, Foreign Language Professor
Sitting in her high school classroom, Rachael Domiano of Hammond daydreamed of going to Italy but didn’t quite know how she was going to get there.
Rachael Domiano, a senior mass communication major from Hammond, stands in the KSLU radio station where she records Caffé Italia with the guidance of Southeastern Italian and Spanish professor Francesco Fiumara. Fiumara and Domiano work together by preparing radio scripts, selecting music and recording the weekly show.
Now a senior mass communication major, Domiano enrolled in an Italian language course during her senior year of high school as part of the Southeastern Scholars program hoping to get her first taste of Italian culture.
She quickly made it to Rome during the winter break of her freshman year and fell in love with all things Italian.
“For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to see the world’ and of all the places I wanted to go, Italy was always the first,” she said. “I don’t know if it was my heritage, the history or just the sheer beauty that drew me there, but I was not disappointed. I was hooked.”
Back to the realities of school, Domiano began taking as many Italian courses as she could, strengthening her skills and earning herself a minor in the romance language.
One day in her advanced language class, Italian and Spanish professor Francesco Fiumara stopped by to recruit students for his Italian radio show, Caffé Italia, which is broadcast through the university’s FM radio station 90.9 KSLU. Though Domiano started working on the show to earn course credit, Fiumara said she quickly became a radio pro.
“She is a radio person,” Fiumara said. “She didn’t know it, but she is. I told my students, if you want to improve your Italian and if you want to have a fun experience, come to my radio show. You can practice Italian and see how the language is used in a natural way in a communicative environment.”
Originally from Calabria, Italy, Fiumara came to Southeastern in 2007 with a lifetime of foreign language experience and 35 years of radio production under his belt. He approached KSLU General Manager Todd Delaney about an Italian show when he first came to Southeastern. Delaney admits he was initially reluctant.
“I thought, ‘Who will listen to an Italian show?’ but we were just shocked by the positive responses we received from local and international audiences,” Delaney said. “To hear from those people is neat; not only are we serving our local community but our international community…and I think Francesco does an outstanding job.”
Caffé Italia airs Sunday evenings from 8-9 p.m. and is syndicated in Middleton, Conn. and Salamanca, Spain. In the past, Fiumara’s students have written radio scripts, compiled music materials and recorded Caffé Italia as a class.
With mentorship from Fiumara, Domiano now selects show topics and music, writes her own scripts and frequently hosts the show by herself and featured guests. The pair still host together about once a month.
“Caffé Italia has helped me a lot with writing, speaking and pronunciation,” Domiano said. “I think if more students took advantage of the show, they would learn that there really is a lot offered at Southeastern to gain experience.”
Topics for the show vary, and past themes have included Italian culture, Top-20 Italian music artists, a Christmas show and a Valentines Day show. The majority of shows are prerecorded and compiled with the help of student radio technician and mass communication major Juan Gonzales of Denham Springs.
Domiano admits she was a bit uncomfortable on the radio at first but quickly came to enjoy the experience. “Oddly enough, I feel more natural speaking in Italian on the radio,” Domiano said.
Domiano hasn’t just assisted Fiumara behind the microphone; she also helped Caffé Italiaacquire a grant from Southeastern’s College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences that was used to purchase equipment and new music for the show.
According to Domiano, her experiences with Caffé Italia demonstrate Fiumara’s concern for his students.
"Throughout my Italian studies, he has always encouraged me to work hard to improve my speaking and writing skills,” she said. “Through Caffé Italia and his classes, Dr. Fiumara gives his students an opportunity to practice Italian in a fun and educational setting."
In the future, Fiumara said he would like to see more students get involved in Caffé Italia.
“A lot of students are afraid of what they should say on the radio and are afraid to listen to their own voice,” he said. “I would like to have more students like Rachael, but I think she is unique. Who else can match what she has done for the show—what she did in the past and what she is doing now?”
As for Domiano, she plans to look for a job in the public relations and communications field after she graduates, and, as always, dreams of her next trip to Italy.
“I would love to somehow still be a part of the Italian program here at Southeastern,” she said. “Even though I don’t plan on going into radio, I know the show has taught me a lot. Just being around the radio station and around media has been educational and very fun.”