Creating a station group

1966. Radio Musical's success included the overnight show, where tropical dance music was played; the show was sold out at daytime rates. This unusual condition for a post-midnight shift was widely commented and I was worried that someone might "take" the format fulltime on a competitor. 
One of the other 40 AMs,  Radio Pacífico, on 805 kHz, had tried to compete with the Radio Musical format. They lost all their money in the attempt. Fausto Vallejo Silva, the owner, offered me HCFV1 for $2,500 or S/. 50,000. I snapped it up, closed the station and had the transmitter chucked down a ravine (this was pre-environmental awareness).

A new station appeared in its place... using the name of the overnight show, "Canal Tropical." I  decided to tune the new station into the tower of the first. Below is the the ad published by the consulting engineer and showing the diplexer and ATU for the first such operation in all Ecuador.
Canal Tropical debuted on the 21st of May of 1966. It was pure cumbia, porro, gaita, mapayé, with a bolero or two thrown in for flavor. High energy jocks played the hits 24 hours a day on this tropical station with Top 40 formatics. A 15-day ratings sweep was half way through that Saturday, but HCFV managed to show nonetheless... at #1 in middle and lower income listeners! And the station’s working class appeal was a perfect complement to the upper income youth appeal of its sister station.

The first song on the air was Sonia López' "La Pollera Colorá" which was a hit cumbia at the time. ,
click here.
Canal Tropical, HCFV1 was diplexed into the same tower as Radio Musical
using a tuning and rejection unit designed by Ing Al Horvath.
The "owner's" office at 1027 Avenida Amazonas in Quito. Records were the decorating motif as can be seen from the following pictures, too
In the Radio Musical Canal 57 studio (second from left) with production manager Edwin Almeida (left) and "El Pollo" Fuentes, Chile's top pop singer of the era. Fuentes was taking listener calls as part of a concert the station presented in Quito.
At the "board" (a Gates Yard) at Radio Musical. The Fairchild reverb, the Yard power supply and a CBS Audimax were in the rack.
  Patricio Toro, one of the best announcers on Radio Musical and Canal Tropical. Click on the photo for an interview (in Spanish) with Patricio where he describes how he was hired by me. Part of that interview appears below:
"Later... I received several phone calls from a gringo who spoke horrible Spanish that I could not understand, who invited me to visit a station he had just built and which had the the absolute best technology that existed at the time, and which had recruited the best announcers of the time and I thought he was playing a joke on me and I never paid any attention until I got a call from Guillermo Jácome, one of the the best voices ever and he said that Mr. David Gleason, a US citizen, had called me and he requested that I come for an interview to the facilities of the station that would become Canal Tropical AM. I went and they offered me a salary that was ten times greater than what I was making plus all the required benefits, and later it became the leading radio group in the country, Núcleo Radión, made up of Radio Musical, Canal Tropical, Radio Fiesta on AM and Teleonda Musical on FM, the first commercial FM (in Ecuador) At Canal Tropical, I spent a wonderful era in my career and was also the official voice of the Núcleo Radión and of Teleonda FM. "
What do you do when you are sold out for two years, besides raise rates every few months? You buy or build new stations. This ad was from an advertisers guide published in 1967. There were now four stations, including one very special one: Ecuador's... and Northern South America's very first independent FM station.
1967. At this time, Quito had only one TV station and no independent FM facilities. A license was requested for the country’s first commercial independent FM. Going on the air at midyear, easy listening HCTM1 maintained a stance of "no commercials" for 6 months.

In fact, I had not intended to sell advertising on the station ever; it was a tribute to my first job in radio at an FM. But at lunch with a client, the distributor of Ecuador's only instant coffee, I was asked to have my salesperson drop by for a contract on the FM. When I mentioned I did not sell ads on the FM, I was asked to name a rate... I simply multiplied my highest AM rate by four to discourage the deal. Surprisingly, he said yes... so I said, "the spots are only 20 seconds" and was told this was fine.
 The appeal of the format among advertisers became so high that "Teleonda" achieved sellout within its first year. The format was a hybrid of beautiful music and the traditional folk and national music of Latin America. Three song sets would include two instrumentals, and a vocal which might have been a tango, a vals, a pasillo or a bambuco as well as trios and folksongs. Total commercial time in each hour was two minutes, in six twenty-second spots.

A year later, Teleonda became the first stereo station in the country and moved its transmitter to a small mountaintop overlooking the city. We went stereo by modifying a test bench stereo generator intended for radio repair shops and injecting it into our home made exciter. It lit the pilot light on radios and had true stereo separation!
As can be seen from the ratings from a few years later (graphic of Datos, S.A. table above on this page), Teleonda was #2 in upper income listenership, and in the top 10 in middle income audience. The station was always sold out... and this was before 1970! FM had arrived and was successful in Ecuador before the average FM in the US or Mexico was!
A "6 AM-Midnight" summary form a 1969 Datos, S.A. survey of Quito. In upper income levels, my stations were #1, #2, #7 and #10 and accounted for nearly 50% of listening. In middle income, 4 of the top 11 were mine, and three stations had 20% of the lower income audience. Click on the partial table for the whole page of these 1970 ratings.

Interestingly, the #2 station in 1969 in upper income was an independent FM, Teleonda. This station was the first independent FM in northern South America and was profitable in its first year on the air.
Thia ad appeared in an advertising trade publication emphasizing the variety of formats on the Núcleo Radión Quito stations
"We have 4 stations with the taste of life.
And what flavor do you have?"
Letterhead and cards for the group a few years later. Note that there were FM simulcasts on each of the 3 AM stations, and two independent FMs for a total of 8 stations in Quito alone.
1967. Our only failure. Next to Radio Musical's 570 frequency there was a rural station, some 60 kilometers outside of Quito, at San Pedro de Amaguaña in the same province of Pichincha. It was HCSP1, at 595 kHz. Recognizing that the station could fit into the Quito dial, I bought it via an intermediary and moved it to Quito and had it reassigned to 590. A transmitter site was built right off the Panamericana Sur, about 4 km south of the Villaflora, in nice wet land. The stations signal covered parts of 6 provinces.

I wanted to create the Ecuadorian equivalent of Mexico City's Radio Centro, a nostalgia format with boleros and trios and romantic crooners. The playlist was extensive, as opposed to the Top 40 style of my other stations. It was called La Voz Amiga. Nobody listened.
Nobody. I learned a lesson about playlist length, at some cost. I also learned the art of the move-in, taking a rural station and moving it to the big city. Of course, nobody called it a "move in" yet!

But in 1968, I changed programming.
The one music format was still missing: Ecuadorian folk music, the music of the indigenous population. Another station had shot up in ratings with the format, so 590 AM became Radio Fiesta, and immediately made a profit. And quashed the competitor, too. Although the listener target was not much sought by advertisers, there was considerable profit to be made in messages for rural areas and greetings in general. Sold at a premium, each stopset consisted of many "meet me at the bus from Quito" and "your mother had her operation in the city and is fine" announcements.
The 1967 Asociación Ecuatoriana de Radiodifusión met in Guayaquil for its annual assembly. Here is the opening reception picture with a number of other station owners. 
One of the meetings at the 1967 AER general assembly. Front row, far left is Guillermo Jácome, operations manager of the Núcleo Radión group.
In 1968, the Interamerican Asociation of Broadcasters held its convention in Quito. I was asked by Arch Madsen, the US delegate, to assist in the organizing of the event. Here is a surviving snapshot of the opening night reception. To the left is Rafael Guerrero Valenzuela, owner of CRE and Tropicana in Guayaquil. The location is the Hotel Quito Intercontinental in the capital.
1969. Another FM license was requested, and HCTT1 signed on in 1968 with a mix of paid embassy programming and classical music. Within a year, a weekend rock program had proven itself so successful that the station became the first contemporary FM in South America, playing the latest Stones, Beatles and Zeppelin cuts.

During this same year, the original three Quito AM stations installed simulcast transmitters on FM. The 5 stations in Quito accounted for nearly half of all radio audience in the market. During the period between 1964 and 1969, I was sole owner, manager, group programmer and sales manager, as well as chief engineer.

Such multi-functioned owner-operator descriptions were common. One owner in Quito, Numa Pompilio Castro of Radio Cosmopolita, also did his station's morning show where he would identify himself as "Numa Pompilio Castro, dueño, propietario, locutor y portero" or "Owner, operator, announcer and janitor." 
With the announcement of the discovery of petroleum in the Orient to the East of the Andes and the construction of a pipeline, I applied for and was granted AM stations in Lago Agrio (in the jungle) and Bahía de Caraquez (at the pipeline's end on the Pacific. I also built a mini-Musical in Ambato on 1480 and licensed but never built Radio Musical 840 AM in Tulcán.

1970. The economic situation in Ecuador looked to be rapidly deteriorating, with runaway inflation, currency controls and shortages of everything. For 6 months, I lived in Washington, D.C. while preparing for the F.C.C. First Class Radiotelephone operator’s license. At the same time, joined EZ Communications as operations manager for WEZR in suburban Fairfax, Virginia as well as assisting in the transition of the company’s WEZS in Richmond from classical music programming to Beautiful Music. Additionally, I did market research and community ascertainment for an application to construct a new Class B FM in the Norfolk, Virginia area.
1970. The economic situation in Ecuador looked to be rapidly deteriorating, with runaway inflation, currency controls and shortages of everything. For 6 months, I lived in Washington, D.C. while preparing for the F.C.C. First Class Radiotelephone operator’s license. At the same time, joined EZ Communications as operations manager for WEZR in suburban Fairfax, Virginia as well as assisting in the transition of the company’s WEZS in Richmond from classical music programming to Beautiful Music. Additionally, I did market research and community ascertainment for an application to construct a new Class B FM in the Norfolk, Virginia area.
The objective of this move to the U.S. was to establish a relationship with a company that was rapidly expanding into FM broadcasting and in which a substantial investment would be possible upon the sale of stations in South America.
While in the Washington DC area, I took the FCC First Class licence exam.
1970. Unable to immediately sell the stations, returned to Ecuador and in partnership with the Bank of Guayaquil, built individual AM stations in Cuenca, Quito and Guayaquil, the country’s top 3 markets. (My associate and partner in this venture, Attorney Jaime Nebot Saadi, was the leading presidential candidate in the 1996 elections and is presently the Mayor of Guayaquil) The Guayaquil station, using the Canal Tropical format from Quito, quickly rose to #1 in the million plus market of Guayaquil.
Failure of Bank of Guayaquil (closely associated with 1970’s losing political party, the CFP), and dangerous political unrest forced a hasty emergency departure from Ecuador, in late 1970.
The Radio Musical-sponsored Mini in the Ecuador cross country motor racing event in 1967. Ing. Eduardo Cruz drove the car.
To the left, Ing. Cruz next to another of his vehicles which I helped sponsor, the HCTT "Teleonda Musical" VW. HCTT1 was Ecuador's and the Bolivarian nations' first FM station.
Finally, I want to mention all the fine people who were part of the
Núcleo Radión team from 1964 to 1970.
Guillermo Jácome Jiménez
Jorge Endara
Pepe Rosenfeld
Gabriel Espinosa de los Monteros
Pedro Chassi
Roberto García
Ulpiano Orozco
Jorge Obando
Jorge Obando
Edwin Almeida Marañon (QEPD)
Lucho Castellanos
Fabricio Cifuentes
Patricio Toro
Vicente Córdova
Mary Lou Parra
Fausto Vallejo
Patricio Moncayo
Ing. Fred Simon (Telco)
Ing. Eduardo Cruz (QEPD)
Ing. Al Horvath
Alberto Rivadeneira
Byron Guerra
Matilde Lalama
Marco Díaz
Susana Játiva
Patricio Moncayo
... and many more.
(If underlined,
there is a link to more about this person)

HCRM 1 transmitter site in Bellavista overlooking Quito.
This station fell silent in 1996, 32 years after making radio history
as the first Top 40 station in all South America.