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Thread: Cuba's "Radio Reloj"

  1. #1

    Cuba's "Radio Reloj"

    I was in the Florida Keys for a few days and one Cuban station that came in very clearly was "Radio Reloj" (pronounced ray-LOH). In the Keys, you can hear it on 570 and 950. Even if you can't get it too clearly, you can still hear its timebeats through the static, like our own WWV on shortwave.

    For those unfamiliar with time stations, you hear a clunk every second. And when the minute changes you hear a beep. So it makes it very easy to set a clock to these signals. (Canada also has a time signal station on shortwave like this, as do other countries.)

    But at the same time, Radio Reloj has anchors reading news stories over the clunks. Middays it's a male/female anchor team. Late nights it seems like they go with a sole male anchor, reading stories not just about "Presidente Fidel Castro" but also el presidente de los Estados Unidos, George Bush en la Casa Blanca (the White House).

    The anchors try to make their stories end just before each minute's "beep". They say "Radio Reloj" (Clock Radio), then we hear the beep. They announce the time "diez minutos" or ten minutes after the hour. Then there's a sort of brief morse code signal we hear to underscore the time check.

    I noticed the woman anchor had a hard time finishing her stories in time for the beep when the minute changes. She often had to speed up her delivery and was still finishing her story after the beep. Then she quickly said "Radio Reloj. Ocho Minutos." Then we'd hear the morse code signal a few seconds late.

    Of course, broadcasting as everything else in Cuba is dictated by the government, not the listeners. There are no commercials or even PSAs. But I wonder why someone in charge thought an all-news radio station (with no actualities and no features that I heard) should also be on the time signal ststion. Or why the time signal station is on AM and not SW. Or why Cuba needs its own time signal station in the first place.

    Maybe David knows if Radio Reloj pre-dates Castro or did his administration put it on two of Cuba's more powerful radio stations. And funny that both frequencies are on one notch away from two of Miami's largest reach AM stations in English, 560 WQAM and 940 WINZ.

    Also in the Florida keys, 1140 Radio Marti is the most powerful station on the AM dial, even though it's directed to Cuba, has no call letters, doesn't show up on www.radio-locator.com and is so highly directional you have trouble hearing it Miami. (Is it 50,000 watts 24/7 or does the U.S. govt put out more watts than they legally should?) It was an interesting mix of news and talk shows (in my limited understanding of Spanish).

    Other than Radio Reloj, Cuba also has some talk and music AMs but I didn't listen much with my limited knowledge of Spanish and limited interest in Cuban music. However, on one station, I heard Dancing in The Dark by Bruce Springsteen in the midst of more contemporary sounding Spanish music. That was a surprise.

    The Keys are appartently too far to hear any Cuban FMs... or maybe there are no FMs in Cuba? Or are they limited in their wattage so none make the 90 miles across the Gulf of Mexico to Key West? I didn't have the opportunity to disconnect the cable on my motel's TV and try putting rabbit ears on the set to see if I might pick up Cuban TV at night. I wonder if anyone in the Keys can pick up Cuban TV signals? Actually without cable you'd likely be almost TV free in the Keys. I believe that only Key West has a TV station, a UHF Spanish station aimed at the Miami market via cable must-carry rules. Fort Myers and Miami are too far to pick up any reliable signals over the air for TV or FM.

    And nearly every Miami Spanish AM station had alternate Spanish programming underneath it at night in the Keys. So I guess Castro is trying to block out Miami AM Spanish talk stations with Cuban stations whenever possible.



    Gregg
    [email protected]

  2. #2
    Mediafrog
    Guest

    Re: Cuba's "Radio Reloj"

    > I was in the Florida Keys for a few days and one Cuban
    > station that came in very clearly was "Radio Reloj"

    During the 60's and 70's, Radio Reloj's nighttime signal made it into much of the U.S. with fairly decent strength. I reall 760 being a good frequency in Central Texas, if you nulled out WJR in Detroit. Radio Reloj was present on several other frequencies with varying signals, but 760 was the best. CMQ "Radio Liberacion" also boomed in on several frequencies, best being 640.

    Mexico City used to have something similar, XEQK 1350 "La Hora Exacta" which ran ads, PSA's, along with brief news and information items between time checks at the top of each minute. They also had a shortwave simulcast on 9555 kHz for many years, which is how I would hear it in Texas. The shortwave transmitter went dark in the early 90's, and the AM has since changed programming. David Eduardo can probably fill in some more details as to what the station philosophy was, and what is currently running on that station.

    > Then there's a sort of brief
    > morse code signal we hear to underscore the time check.

    That is the Morse Code "RR" for Radio Reloj.

    BTW, The time on Radio Reloj was never very accurate the times I heard it, often 20-30 seconds out of whack.

    > Or why the time signal station is
    > on AM and not SW.

    Castro does not want the population listening to shortwave and the diversity of viewpoints it provides. But there is plenty of SW listening in Cuba, nonetheless.

    > Maybe David knows if Radio Reloj pre-dates Castro or did his
    > administration put it on two of Cuba's more powerful radio
    > stations.

    I think a version existed pre-Castro. David may have some detailed sources. I've seen station lists from the 50's, and there was a fairly dynamic broadcasting scene in the country. A little before my time, however--I first started hearing all the Cuban stuff in the mid-60's while scanning the AM band at night.

    > Also in the Florida keys, 1140 Radio Marti is the most
    > powerful station on the AM dial, even though it's directed
    > to Cuba, has no call letters, doesn't show up on
    > www.radio-locator.com and is so highly directional

    This facility can run 100kw, but apparently doesn't always do so. In the 60's and 70's the 1180 transmitter in Marathon was 50kw and carried Voice of America Spanish programming to Cuba and the Carribean, getting out quite well. It put a fairly listenable signal into my (then) Central Texas location throughout the evening, and early morning before sunrise.

    > The Keys are appartently too far to hear any Cuban FMs... or
    > maybe there are no FMs in Cuba?

    Yes there are. Cuba was behind the times on establishing FM, but they are catching up now.

    > I wonder if anyone in the Keys can pick up Cuban TV
    > signals?

    Channels 2 and 6 in Havana often go quite far into Florida if the tropo conditions are right. Good DX targets during ionospheric skip conditions, as well.


    <P ID="edit"><FONT class="small">Edited by Mediafrog on 11/15/05 08:03 AM.</FONT></P>

  3. #3
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    Re: Cuba's "Radio Reloj"

    >
    > Of course, broadcasting as everything else in Cuba is
    > dictated by the government, not the listeners. There are no
    > commercials or even PSAs. But I wonder why someone in
    > charge thought an all-news radio station (with no
    > actualities and no features that I heard) should also be on
    > the time signal ststion. Or why the time signal station is
    > on AM and not SW. Or why Cuba needs its own time signal
    > station in the first place.

    Radio Reloj, as Reloj Nacional, predates not only Castro but every other all news station in the World, including the USA. It went on in the late 40's.

    At that time, most working class people couldnot afford a watch, so the hook was to tune in to find out the time and then listen to the news and commercials. The format is so ingrained into the Cuban mind that they could never change it.

    The idea was the inspiration of Goar Mestra, founder of Circuito CMQ, the leading pre-Castro broadcaster in Cuba and the first to put a TV station on the air in Latin America.
    >
    > Maybe David knows if Radio Reloj pre-dates Castro or did his
    > administration put it on two of Cuba's more powerful radio
    > stations. And funny that both frequencies are on one notch
    > away from two of Miami's largest reach AM stations in
    > English, 560 WQAM and 940 WINZ.

    There are a half dozen or so Reloj relays. They pretty much cover the whole Island... at least the big metros.
    >
    > Also in the Florida keys, 1140 Radio Marti is the most
    > powerful station on the AM dial, even though it's directed
    > to Cuba, has no call letters, doesn't show up on
    > www.radio-locator.com and is so highly directional you have
    > trouble hearing it Miami. (Is it 50,000 watts 24/7 or does
    > the U.S. govt put out more watts than they legally should?)

    It is not licensed by the FCC, and uses 100 kw. It needs no FCC license. It is a congressional charter, like the VOA.

    >
    > The Keys are appartently too far to hear any Cuban FMs... or
    > maybe there are no FMs in Cuba?

    There are a number of FMs. Not the quanity that you have in the US, but quite a few.

    > Or are they limited in
    > their wattage so none make the 90 miles across the Gulf of
    > Mexico to Key West?

    90 miles is too far for an FM on a shorter tower to carry. Cuba does not like to build big towers, probably due to the hurricanes and the cost.

    >
    > And nearly every Miami Spanish AM station had alternate
    > Spanish programming underneath it at night in the Keys. So
    > I guess Castro is trying to block out Miami AM Spanish talk
    > stations with Cuban stations whenever possible.

    Cuba has about 130 AMs, and there is something on nearly every frequency. Only 1140 and 1180 and 710 are intended to block US signals.
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  4. #4

    Re: Cuba's "Radio Reloj"

    > The Keys are appartently too far to hear any Cuban FMs... or
    > maybe there are no FMs in Cuba? Or are they limited in
    > their wattage so none make the 90 miles across the Gulf of
    > Mexico to Key West?

    Well, since Mediafrog and David did such an excellent job in explaining Radio Reloj, I will add something about FM in Cuba. Due to the nature of my job, I travel frequently to Latin America (in fact am in Managua this evening). Most of these trips take me through Miami and over Cuba.

    On one flight, I just couldn't resist and whipped out the Walkman for a listen over Cuba. And, yes, there are numerous FMs there - though they generally seemed to be connected with national networks. IIRC - there were 3 formats that I heard, including Radio Reloj in mono on 100.5 and at least 3 other freqs, a classical network in stereo, and a contemporary network, also in stereo. Interestingly enough, from 30,000 feet you could clearly hear many FM stations from the Keys. This made for a moment of reflection about the poor folks 30,000 feet below me who did not have this priviledge!

    Of all the stations, it was Radio Reloj that seemed to be the blowtorch - with a really steady signal (on 100.5) that lasted longest over the Caribbean. Interesting to hear the station clearly on FM - after always hearing the staticy version on AM. The high fidelity of FM actually made it sound LESS interesting and exotic for some reason. The time clicks/beeps really cut through the AM signal more prominently than I heard on FM. Perhaps it is the processing...

    With respect to the Walkman, no you're not supposed to use it on the plane. That being said, I have never (ever) heard of one incident associated with such activity. Nor from cellphones left on either - which does happen all the time (such as forgotten in a carry-on). Nonetheless, I will paraphrase "Mythbusters" about it: Don't try this at home; we're experts!

  5. #5
    miamimadman
    Guest

    "Radio Clock"

    > > Also in the Florida keys, 1140 Radio Marti is the most
    > > powerful station on the AM dial, even though it's directed
    >
    > > to Cuba, has no call letters, doesn't show up on
    > > www.radio-locator.com and is so highly directional

    Oh yes,the great 1180!

    > This facility can run 100kw, but apparently doesn't always
    > do so.

    If you can believe it, it takes a person at the Transmitter to throw the combiner. So when the 2 and a half techs who work there are sick, or on vacation etc, the station can run at low power for a Week or two. Of course you can always listen by Shortwave on multiple frequencies, the Internet, and even a dial up Telephone coupler. I'll publish that # upon request!


    >In the 60's and 70's the 1180 transmitter in
    > Marathon was 50kw and carried Voice of America Spanish
    > programming to Cuba and the Carribean, getting out quite
    > well. It put a fairly listenable signal into my (then)
    > Central Texas location throughout the evening, and early
    > morning before sunrise.

    Was that Radio Swan?. I thought that was flow by a CIA aircraft, with the antenna onboard. You know they're doing TV Broadcasts that way at a Million Tax dollars an hour, and No ONE watches!

  6. #6
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    Re: "Radio Clock"

    >
    > Was that Radio Swan?. I thought that was flow by a CIA
    > aircraft, with the antenna onboard. You know they're doing
    > TV Broadcasts that way at a Million Tax dollars an hour, and
    > No ONE watches!

    Radio Swan was actually on Swan Island and on 1160, and began life as Radio Americas in about '61.

    It was nominally owned by the Gibraltar Steamship Company (which had no steamships or ships of any kind) and managed by on Horton H. Heath. The offices were in the Ingrahm Bldg in Downtown Miami, on 2nd or 3rd, a block from Flagler. In the same offices you could find the Interamerican Association of Broadcasters (AIR) which was kind of odd.
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  7. #7
    B Lewis
    Guest

    Another interesting thing about la radio en cuba

    I remember, in 1988 and/or 1989, when Castro cranked up the transmitters on many of his AM stations. I remember reading stories in 'Radio World' about stations in South Florida that could not be heard a mile from their towers, because Cuban stations were blowing in to the US. Here in NC, I remember hearing 1180 nightly for about a month. At the time, 1180 was running the 'Radio Taino' format. At that time, 'Radio Taino' was a 'tourist information' station (the positioner was 'La Tur-emisora de Cuba). (Cuba is still a BIG tourist destination for Europeans, Canadians, and Latin Americans). They played, mainly older Cuban music or newer music with the 'classic' Cuban sound, with tourist information 'PSA's' afterevery few songs. It acutally had a quite professional sound. They were as clear, here in Northeastern NC, as the two 1KW local AM's. At times, I would do the Saturday 6a-12n shift at a local station, and could still hear Radio Taino just before sunrise. Occassionally, I can still get 1180, but it is nowhere near as strong as it was then. I think they are 'Radio Progreso' now. I can also get 'Radio Progreso' on 670 and 710 and 'Radio Rebelde' on 670 most nights. Also, I can usually hear the time pulse through the static on 570, but it is not (usually) audible enough to understand the news stories.'Radio Taino' is now an FM format (I know they are on something like 98.9 en Holguin). From their internet stream, it seems like they are playing 70s, 80s, 90s American AC on that format these days.

  8. #8

    Re: Cuba's \

    Cuba FM can be heard from the Keys. 96.7 Rebelde puts in the best signal. On tropo, here in Clearwater, FL, 99.9 Radio Cadena Hababa and 99.1 Musical Nacional have made it as well as 96.7 several times over the past few weeks.VOA-Marathon is 2 X 50 kW inline xmtrs, I believe. And it's on 1180, not 1140.

  9. #9
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    Re: Cuba's \

    Quote Originally Posted by TerryKay
    VOA-Marathon is 2 X 50 kW inline xmtrs, I believe. And it's on 1180, not 1140.
    Marathon may have parallel 50's (I thought it was a singe 100 kw) but the towers are an end-fed in-line array aimed at Cuba. Two 50's can not be in series, only in parallel.
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  10. #10

    Re: Cuba's \

    I remember in the early 80's, Cuba relayed Radio Moscow on 600 kHz....it was kind of interesting to hear Radio Moscow and their "cold" sound on AM (albeit under a bunch of local US stations).

    Also, anyone here remember Radio Free Dixie? (Was that a Cuban effort of some kind?)

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