Tuesday, May 23, 2006

WCMQ & WDAE Vs. Cuba!

Just a few weeks ago I read that 620 WDAE-AM in Tampa was tearing down their old tower in Tampa Bay. ...and when I say "bay" I really mean bay. WDAE broadcasts from two big Blaw-Knox towers that straddled the Gandy causeway between Tampa and St. Petersburg. It had great line-of sight but all that salt water left the current owners with no choice but to take 'em down.

620 used to be known as WSUN and was (as the marker states) the first radio station in Florida. It's history is very colorful as I am about to get into. the new towers will be shorter but will also run at a higher power. That’s to make up for the shorter and therefore less efficient towers. But in reality, regardless of their license, WDAE will continue using twice as much power, under a long-running STA to mitigate interference from Cuba! A little info here.

They like WCMQ Miami had a little problem with Cuba. Cuba was blasting radio signals at Florida. And of course the US military was blasting VOA at them on AM and shortwave. I don't know who upped the ante but the end result was that we have several station on the same frequency for signal cancellation purposes. As Cubans left Cuba escaping Castro's Socialist revolution certain Miami stations became havens for Cuban expatriates. WCMQ then became a vocal anti-Castro media outlets. Their call sign mimics Havana's own CMQ outlet, providing lots of nostalgic Spanish oldies for ex-Cubans now resettled in the area.

1210 WCMQ used to be audible all the way to D.C. under certain night time conditions. So, if you can receive it in Washington D.C., people across the gulf in Cuba also should also be able to hear it. The distance to D.C. is slightly greater but also is across land. AM signals travel much further across water. Would Cuba try to jam reception? Of course they would!

For most of its history, 1220 WCMQ was a music station with no political programming at all. It began as a daytimer in about 1968 and didn't switch to a talk format until after SBS purchased them. (WCMQ moved to 1210 in 1984) It was not until SBS brought in a strong political commentator and newsman that the station became an Anti-Castro outlet)

This tendency lasts thru to this very day. In 1996 Cuba was decimated by a hurricane. Many charitable group mounted humane relief efforts. WCMQ told their listeners to withhold donations, because they would only help Castro's government. They stated that Castro's government would steal any donations that were meant for the people of Cuba. at the time this put them somewhat at odds with WQBA who was taking the opposite stance. Even this day WCMQ radio host Caridad Roque and Ninoska Perez speak frequently about politics relating to Cuba. Check it out here.