You have to wonder about people who call in and dedicate songs on the radio. I always do. Why would a sane person dial in to make sure “Always a Woman” goes out to Sharon on her third anniversary?
Alas, the mafia made great use of this inane pastime: coded messages.
It happened in Naples, where a local pirate station was the means of communication through song between Camorra members.
Sheer genius. And another case of life imitating art: a few years ago there was a big to-do over a CD selling secret mafia songs.
Now the Mafia is using music to do business.
Dedications reported by daily Il Corriere della Sera are dumb enough to be real: “For my son Stefano, I want to say that everything is going to be all right, just have faith.”
And the visit of a neighboring boss was hailed with, “It’s great that you’re under the stars in Naples.” Almost romantic.
The songs — though I’ve never heard any of them — have evocative titles like “This Life is Scary” and “Misery in Naples.” One popular track called “Appointment at 9,” makes me wonder whether they might have commissioned songs, too.
According to reports, the Birra clan (such a folksy name, birra = beer) used the radio to get messages, words of hope, to members in the nearby maximum security Secondigliano prison.
As usual – think of Al Capone and his taxes – the fuzz caught on because of a minor illegality. Had they passed dedications on a legit station, police may have never caught on. Of course, with a regular radio station one could hardly be sure the messages would go out.
“Broadcast ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time,’ or else!” probably wouldn’t have gotten them very far.