A Swede who lives in Finland and who is lost in Euroland - the wonderful world of Eurovision
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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Flashback: a warm-up to ESC 1992

Eurovision is back in Malmö after twenty-one years. Doesn't sound like a very long period of time, but how the world has changed in these years. Not least for eurofans.

This year, all the songs have been fully available online since they were selected more or less. We could read up on the singers, their preparations and millions and zillions of other things. It was a wee bit different back in 1992, let me tell you.

There were some initial news early on: Malmö was chosen as host city, Harald and Lydia were chosen as presenters. Then - as last year's winner Carola executed the draw for the running order - we had the thrilling news that a record-breaking twenty-three countries would take part. Never before had that many entries taken part in a final.

Around the time of the Swedish final, there was a tiny picture in the press what the stage in Malmö would look like. Then news dried up for a while.

In the beginning of April, Swedish daily Aftonbladet published a list of the participants - in most cases the first news of the kind. I remember being delighted that Stjórnin and Wind would be back in the competition, and for the first time I learned who Mia Martini was and that she had taken part in the past.

On April 30th, SVT broadcast the first of two preview shows: the first chance of seeing and hearing the songs. These shows were so fantastically exciting. I'm not sure younger fans today can relate to this excitement at all - waiting and waiting and waiting for a tv-show this was.

During the ESC week, there was a little more news coverage but nothing like today. Both Swedish tabloids ran one or two articles per day - focusing heavily on Sweden - as well as the odd column about what went on down in Malmö.

Apart from that there were few ways of amusing yourself. I watched the previews over and over, trying to evaluate the songs, and then I found the novelty of the year. Sweden had allowed the national betting company to arrange bets for Eurovision. There were running odds, meaning they changed as soon as anyone placed a larger bet on a particular song, and I frequently checked out Teletext to see if the figures had changed.

I can't help but thinking a eurovision nerd was never much nerdier than that.

On the day of the final, the newspapers rose to the occasion and had several pages of coverage - most importantly reviews of the songs and predictions about the results. Aftonbladet's legendary reviewer Lasse Anrell promised to eat the Colosseum if Italy won and thought Christer Björkman would not place better than 12th.

TV and radio contributed a bit as well. SVT had a five-minute warm up programme on Friday night as well as an incredibly unstructured talkshow right after the final where several people spent thirty minutes saying very little. Yet I stayed glued to the screen. The day after the final, "Radio Europa" on SR P3 summed up the event neatly and then the ESC drifted into media oblivion again.

These days - when the eurovision season never really ends, when there are some sort of news all year around and there are always eurovision people to talk to - 1992 look a little bit like the Eurovision Stone Age.

But at least one thing was better - the three hours that the ESC lasted were more intense and more special than anything. Many things are better now, but I can sometimes miss that intensity.

Linda Martin - Why Me? (Ireland 1992)


  1. Guess what! German TV still remains in the stone age. There is no and has never been a preview show at all. Before the internet came up, the only chance to hear the entries before saturday evening, was a radio show on "Radio Luxemburg", which was broadcasted only eight hours(!) before the beginning of the final.

    1. I think every country should have a preview show. It is cheap, it is easy and - if it is well done - it is good entertainment.

    2. I also remember those preview shows. RTE in Ireland would show them over a two-week period and the excitement would build and build. Then, the Wednesday before Eurovision, the state-run broadcaster's TV listings magazine (it was more a broadsheet newspaper style in those days!) would feature pages and pages - all the info about all the singers and composers. I remember my heart almost bursting with excitement going to the newsagents on that Wednesday evening after school. I would then fill scrapbooks about all the contests, they are still in my dad's attic! Also agree with you about Cyprus 1992 - an absolute classic! I love it, although, like you, it took a few listens to fully appreciate it!

  2. Very interesting read. Australians love Eurovision but in 1992 apart from the 3 hour show we got pretty much zero Eurovision news and coverage. With the event shown here on Sunday night the winning entry might, if they were lucky, have got a mention in Monday's newspaper.

    Things have changed a lot. Eurovision is quite a media event now in Australia.