Radio Lorraine coeur d'acier, 1979-1980
Les voix de la crise
Radio Lorraine Heart of Steel 1979-1980
Voices of the crisis
On March 17, 1979, Radio Lorraine Heart of Steel, the CGT trade union's "militant radio", broadcast for the first time, in full sight and sound of all but in total illegality. The signal came out from the former Town Hall of Longwy, using an antenna set up on the roof of the church. During the highpoint of the demonstrations against the dismantling of the steel industry, unionists, workers, steel workers’ families, shopkeepers, immigrants, teachers, journalists, and artists from Paris came together here. Until the CGT put a brutal end to the experiment fifteen months later.
In opening itself up to local society, to its values, its doubts, its tensions and its contradictions, the radio went well beyond the frame of reference that the union wanted to broadcast. It captured ordinary social relations and forms of domination on the spot, whether they were based on culture, gender or nationality.
A rare testimony to an event that has been scantly documented in history, this singular book draws on extensive and up until now unexploited resources, the “Heart of Steel” broadcasts. It revives a key moment in the working-class landscape of the 1970s, a time in which forms of individual and collective emancipation were played out against the backdrop of the last struggles of the May ’68 movement.
Ingrid Hayes is a lecturer in history at University Paris Nanterre.