Uribarri, a Eurovision legend in Spain
Longtime Spanish commentator for the Eurovision Song Contest, Mr. Jose Luis Uribarri, passed away last month. Our editor Victor Escudero worked closely with him on behalf of the Spanish broadcaster, TVE, and wanted to honor the popular music journalist in the following article.
Jose Luis Uribarri was born in Avila in 1936 and worked extensively on television as a presenter and director. Starting as a news presenter, he was then in full command of Aplauso, one of the most popular music shows on Spanish television all-time. Still, his most recognizable job was as a commentator for the Eurovision Song Contest to the point that when he died in July, the press referred to him as "the voice of Eurovision".
A career devoted to the Eurovision Song Contest
He first commented Europe's favourite TV show in 1969 when the contest was held in Madrid and did the job on 17 other occasions, making him the person that has narrated the contest the most times for Spain. The last one of them was in 2010 when I was honoured to share the commentary booth with Mr. Uribarri.
A person who devoted his career to the Eurovision Song Contest, especially in the last period of his life. For example, he was responsible for bringing back the public selections to Spanish television in 2000, after 23 years of internal choices; Uribarri was even consulted for many of those internal decisions.
But even if Jose Luis acted as a juror and director of some of Spain's Eurovision entry selections, it is his job as a commentator which he cared and pampered the most.
Working with a legend
Being myself a journalist at the contest on behalf of several Spanish media over the years, I had the chance of meeting him in the nineties. But it was in 2009 that we coincided in the Spanish National Final for Eurovision as jury members and a collaboration started between us, culminating in Oslo in 2010. It was then that I observed and learned his methodic way of working, that lasted for months, since the countries were starting to choose the entries until the live broadcast itself.
Becoming his friend I realized that he didn't stop caring for Eurovision after Oslo, as he always had the hope of being selected as a commentator once again. That year we had to improvise because of Jimmy Jump's stage intromission, an occasion to remember how he narrated some of the contest top moments, the Spanish version.
These moments include TVE's hosting, Spain's second victory and the tie of four winners in 1969, ABBA's success in 1974, bringing back the broadcast to TVE's main channel in 1993, the first public selection in Spain in 23 years, Operacion Triunfo's mania in 2002 giving the contest its biggest rating ever or Rodolfo Chiquilicuatre's controversy in 2008.
For the Spanish audience José Luis Uribarri will be remembered as "the voice of Eurovision", from my side I'll always keep his voice talking on the show, his care for the contest on the media and our friendship in the last part of his life. Rest in peace.