Mexico 1963

My fascination with Latin Music soon became an interest in Latin America. Through the graces of Herbert E. Evans, then President of Nationwide Insurance's Peoples Broadcasting radio division and a "friend of a friend of the family" I was put into an informal exchange program through which I would theoretically complete my Junior year in High School in Mexico City-

Mexico Map for resume.jpg (13368 bytes)

Central Mexico at nearly 7,500 feet altitude was a very different environment than the rustbelt winters of Cleveland.

This was partly correct. Once I got to Mexico, I did not ever go beyond matriculating in the school. The next day, I visited Organización Radio Centro, which operated 5 AM stations from palatial studios in the old downtown section of Mexico City, the world's largest commercial radio market. While there, I literally bumped into XEJP and XEQR Program Director Ramiro Garza, who was fascinated by a young foreign visitor who was interested in the ORC stations. He mentioned that the stations had an internship program; the rules were to not speak unless spoken to and to do everything asked for. I became an intern and never stepped in the school I was supposed to attend.

David Gleason views Paseo de la Reforma in 1963

Reforma Avenue runs from the old downtown to Chapultepec Park, and is among the world's busiest.

David Gleason view of Mexico City skyline in 1963

This skyline, taken in the 60's, shows the residual smog and haze that has reduced visibility to as little as a half-mile now.

This is the home at Gabriel Mancera 139 in the Colonia del Valle in Mexico City where I lived in 1963, in a Google 2008 photo over 45 years later. The Otero familyt kindly tolerated my obsession with radio and helped me find my way around this enormous city of 8,000.000 in that year.
I spent part of 1963 learning to cart newscasts, carrying spots to the dubbing room and filing records. At the same time, I saw that format radio worked in Mexico. It was the same structure, just in a different language. The jingles were all PAMS overdubs and much of the music on several of the stations was cover versions of American Top 40 hits!

Radio Centro, now "Grupo Radio Centro" (NYSE: "RC"), and its 5 stations had nearly 30% of the audience in the 1963 market of 32 AM stations. They had a bilingual Top 40, a Spanish Top 40, a tropical music station, an MOR format and another facility playing all ranchera music.

This is my 1963 snapshot of the Radio Centro offices and studios on Artículo 123 Street N° 90  in Mexico City. The unpretentious exterior housed marble hallways and state of the art equipment.

Another view of the exterior of the Radio Centro building in the old downtown area in the 70's.

This is the studio for Radio L-Z (XELZ) which was an all-ranchera station. The signs on the window say, "Keep up the Pace" and remind the DJ to give the name after every song.

In addition to interning, I visited a number of other radio stations and took pictures of many. There is a section of pictures of other Mexico City stations at:

Mexican Radio Station Photos

This is the inside of one of XEW's three 250,000 watt transmitters as used in through the 70's. Home-made, they were water cooled and alternated on air for two-hour periods. XEW also operated XEWW on short-wave, and repeater stations in several major markets of Mexico. The gentlemen on the left is the XEW transmitter engineer. I'm the guy with the pocket protector on the right.

A front view of one of the XEW transmitters. Note the open transmission line above.

Here is a shot of a typical smaller Mexico City station, XEMC-1590 AM. Note the interesting mike mount. The little mallet the the announcer's right (lying on the paperwork) was used to strike the official station chimes which served to identify XEMC and many other Latin American stations of the era.

And, ready to use the chime (to the right) is the slightly younger station visitor, who was immediately invited to sit down and have a picture taken by the friendly staff.

The XEMC transmitter. The open cabinets are part of XESC, the short-wave affiliate which seldom stayed on the air very long. Through the 70's, short-wave was common in Latin America, where rural areas often did not have radio stations.
Following my time in Mexico, I traveled for several months through Central America and Colombia, visiting every radio station I could find. Elsewhere on this site you can find an assortment of pictures of the stations of this region as they were in 1963.