Radio cubana

Cuban radio celebrates a century

HARRISONBURG, United States. ― On August 22, 1922 Luis Casas Romero an extraordinary cuban―, Together with his son Luis Casas Rodríguez, he began experimental broadcasts on his 2LC station, located at 99 Ánimas Street (currently 457), in Havana.

It was the first radio station to broadcast from Cuba, which placed the country as one of the pioneers worldwide in the use of new technology.

The station began its transmissions with the cannon shot at 9:00 at night and its programming consisted of musical spaces, information about the weather, a newscast and the indication of the time. It stopped transmitting shortly before midnight.

Shortly after going on the air, Zoila Casas Rodríguez, daughter of the patriot, began to identify the station with her voice, thus becoming the first female announcer in Latin America.

However, it was on April 16, 1923 when the 2LC officially began its transmissions by obtaining permission from the Director of Communications of the Government of President Zayas. Then it increased its power and reached 100 watts until its disappearance in 1928.

Due to the limited existence of radio receivers, Havanans flocked to commercial establishments, as well as to the station’s headquarters, to enjoy the programming. And so Cuban radio began to become an event with a social connotation.

The emergence of new radio stations in all the provinces of the country led to the commercialization of modern receivers of the Western Electric brand, and Cuba became a pioneer of the new technology that contributed notably to the civic and cultural education of citizens.

In December 1923 there were 31 radio stations in Cuba, according to Norma Ferrás Pérez in her article “Cuban radio broadcasting: pioneer in Latin America”published by the newspaper Tribune of Havana on August 22, 2019.

In 1930, the letters CM were assigned to Cuba to identify the stations in its territory, so all existing stations had to change their names.

The radio in the history of Cuba

Cuban radio has been inextricably linked to our history and culture.

In 1932, the CMX station, from the Plaza hotel in Havana, associated with the National Symphony Orchestra (OSN) to transmit in real time the concerts that maestro Amadeo Roldán directed in open-air presentations.

That same year, the CMBZ station, Radio Salas, inaugurated the famous University of the Air.

By 1937, OSN concerts were broadcast on radio networks throughout much of the country.

Important artists and writers left their mark on the consciousness of radio listeners. Very significant due to their social and cultural impact were the programs “The Supreme Court of Art”, the radio soap operas ―a genre that emerged in Cuba and that had its most resounding letter of introduction in “The Right to Be Born”― and the newscasts. The humorous program “Latremendo Corte” has become a classic of Cuban and continental radio broadcasting.

In 1940, the debates of the Constituent Assembly were broadcast live. It is said that the country was paralyzed to listen to them.

The events of Orfila, a massacre that occurred on September 15, 1947, when the residence of Commander Antonio Marín Dopico was attacked, were followed minute by minute by Radio Reloj, the only station in the world.

That station was attacked by José Antonio Echeverría on March 13, 1957 to publicize the attack on the Presidential Palace.

Great national impact reached the programs of Eduardo Chibás, the orthodox politician who attacked corruption.

The dictator arrived and ordered to stop

Castroism was opposed by the big radio and television stations. To counter this powerful opposition, Fidel Castro created the Independent Front of Free Broadcasters (FIEL) on March 20, 1960.

In October of that year, the Ministry of Finance confiscated the assets of the brothers Abel and Goar Mestre, among whom was the CMQ SA circuit, Radio Centro SA and the Inter-American Television of Cuba.

FIEL was recognized as the governing body of Cuban radio and television until on November 16, 1960, when it handed over that leadership -which was never such- to the Castro leadership, which created the Radio Broadcasting Office that would later become the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television (ICRT)of such a disastrous trajectory.

Since then, the radio has been subject to the iron control of Castroism, prohibiting any alternative radio station, even those located outside the national territory, which for decades were —and still are— the only alternative radio sources for Cubans.

Today, most municipalities have a radio station, but its programming ―just like that of the telecenters and what is published in the newspapers― is as boring as a Sunday afternoon in Cuba.

It can be affirmed that after a period of rise and splendor, Cuban radio stopped being innovative to become a means of ideological indoctrination of the dictatorship. In these conditions up to its centenary.

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