Cuban Radio Is Dying Because of Aging Hardliners and Miami's Changing Market

Cuban Radio Is Dying Because of Aging Hardliners and Miami's Changing Market

A square "on air" sign lights up inside the studio of La Poderosa 670 AM, located at SW Third Street and 27th Avenue in the heart of Little Havana. Clad in a tan guayabera and matching slacks, Jorge Rodríguez pushes a button on the phone next to his mike. It's just after 9 a.m., and a woman with a thick Cuban accent is ready to complain about Barack Obama.

"I want to say something about the president of the United States," she cackles in Spanish. "Everyone knows he is not going to do anything for Israel because he is a Muslim. If he gets re-elected, he will certainly open a dialogue with Raúl [Castro]. He hasn't done it yet because the Republicans have held him in check. Down with the president! He's a disgrace!"

A few minutes later, a man calls to ask why Rodríguez and his cohost, an Argentine named Aaron Glantz, didn't challenge her claims.

Jorge Rodríguez and his son, Jorge Jr., operate La Poderosa, the last independently owned Cuban-American radio station in Miami.
Giulio Sciorio
Jorge Rodríguez and his son, Jorge Jr., operate La Poderosa, the last independently owned Cuban-American radio station in Miami.
WQBA laid off longtime host Roberto Rodríguez Tejera and canceled his show in favor of general news programming from owner Univision's national network.
Giulio Sciorio
WQBA laid off longtime host Roberto Rodríguez Tejera and canceled his show in favor of general news programming from owner Univision's national network.

"Why didn't you tell her: 'No, ma'am, he isn't [a Muslim],' just like John McCain did in 2008?" he asks.

Rodríguez and Glantz glance at each other with incredulous expressions. "Read the president's history sir," Glantz retorts. "¡Sí!" Rodríguez adds matter-of-factly.

So it goes every weekday for an hour and a half as Rodríguez and Glantz open the lines to their right-wing, mostly elderly, overwhelmingly Cuban listeners, who vent about the Castro brothers' latest conspiracies, Obama's socialist agenda, and current political scandals engulfing Miami-Dade.

It's a uniquely Miami slice of conservative chest-beating, and — for better or worse — it's fading along with the older generation of Cubans who tune in.

La Poderosa, in fact, is the last independently owned Cuban talk-radio station in town, and a recent round of corporate rebranding raises questions whether the format can survive. Both of its longtime competitors — Radio Mambí (WAQI, 710 AM) and WQBA (1140 AM) — are owned by media giant Univision, which gutted WQBA in June and has recently imported more moderate, pan-Hispanic voices to Mambí. Smaller stations catering to the exile community have gone silent altogether, like Little Haiti's tiny WNMA (1210 AM), which was recently bought by ESPN Deportes.

There's no mystery why. In recent years, straight news stations such as Colombian-owned Radio Caracol and Venezuelan-tied Actualidad Miami have gained thousands of listeners at the expense of the old Cuban stations, which have lost a full percentage share of the market since 2006. That shift has followed the changing demographic in Miami, where non-Cubans — who were just 40 percent of the Hispanic population in 1997 — today represent close to half.

"It's unbelievable and incomprehensible," Rodríguez says of Univision's recent changes at WQBA. "They are not putting any consideration into what has been created here in Miami. Why change it?"

Some observers say a move toward more moderate Spanish-language radio would be healthy for a town too long obsessed with the lives of two strong-arm brothers on an island a few hundred miles away.

"On Cuban-American radio, you hear things that happened 50 years ago as if it was happening right now," says John De Leon, an ACLU attorney and Miami native. "It's highly nostalgic, but it is not conducive for change and progress in the community."

But anyone who appreciates Miami's unique history should feel a sting of regret if the kind of radio broadcast every day at La Poderosa fades to static; this is a format, after all, that El Exilio has used for 53 years to undermine Castro's revolution and amass political power in South Florida.

These frequencies have hailed alleged terrorists such as Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles as freedom fighters and condoned bombing cars and offices to defy El Exilio's enemies. They've fomented mob rule against those acquiescing to Fidel Castro, especially during the battle to keep Elián González in Miami. And thanks to pressure from the stations, Miami-Dade politicians have been forced to pander to listeners by banning Cuban musicians and ordering boycotts of Cuban-friendly businesses.

Those days might just be gone for good. "It is not like it used to be in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, when it was overwhelmingly Cuban-American," former Miami Mayor Joe Carollo says of the stations' influence. "It doesn't have the same impact anymore."

Emilio Milian stepped out of the WQBA studio and into the parking lot around sunset on April 30, 1976. The then-45-year-old host had just wrapped another show slamming his fellow exiles for condoning terrorism against moderate Cuban-Americans. Milian knew he was a marked man for his views.

He scanned the lot for suspicious characters and warily watched a woman walking his way. She'd found a lost little boy nearby. Milian told her to go into the station to call the police, and then he opened the door to his white Chevy station wagon and got behind the wheel.

When he turned the ignition, the world went white. Eight pounds of explosives wired to the battery blew up, billowing gray smoke and fire into the evening. The car's hood shot a hundred feet into the air. In an instant, Milian's legs were torn to shreds, and shrapnel blew a hole in his abdomen and peppered his face.

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65 comments
ncc-1138
ncc-1138

Ahhh, I can't wait for all these old hardline obsessive fuckers to die off...it is a new Miami, and thank goodness!!

 

tgonzalez4
tgonzalez4

All I can say is thank God for the death of exile radio. I grew up in Miami circa 1970's through 1980's and during that time I can tell you that it was hard to distinguish between Cuba's communist radio and Miami's stations, which were a trinity of Fascism. The very same intolerance, hatred and fear of freedom of speech which you could hear from Havana radio you would also hear in Miami. It became evident to me that most of these exiles, while always quoting Marti, were in fact undemocratic to the core. In essence, they're problem with Castro was more about his nationalization of Cuban industry and veering over to the communist camp. Had Castro committed to being a right wing dictator, possibly they would have had no problem at all with him.

These stations advocated for separating a child from his father over politics (Elian) in defiance of a bitter history of 14,000 families separated by the communist dictatorship of Cuba (I'm a Peter Pan and I know). In essence, these stations endorsed our imitating the Castros in this regard. In addition, these stations defended the bombing of a civilian airliner carrying youngsters from the Cuban fencing team and the terrorists who did it were and by some, still are, lauded as heroes. In essence, it is O.K. to be cold-blooded murderers just like the Castros. I could go on and on about how Castrolike these stations have been and in the end, they probably did much to prolong Castro's dictatorship by aiding his continued isolation. I'm hopeful of the new Cuban American generations raised to think for themselves and the new generations on the island who recognize that whether you call it Fascism, Communism, Nazism etc. all forms of dictatorship are garbage. Freedom of thought and speech, essential for democracy to endure. 

mannyc007
mannyc007

The Cuban that are here, don,t give a dam about go home or going back to Cuba. Well since U.S.A open door to Cuban and etc. Who the hell wanted go back; No passport !!!!!!!!

jdrumi
jdrumi

manrodriguez1964, is not only an idiot! but a racist, and a very ignorant person. He does NOT speak for all Cuban Americans. *

jdrumi
jdrumi

It's shameful!!!!! * I'm a independent voter,and a Cuban American(54), and I say they should all go out of business. * Voting Obama for President.

 

canes45
canes45

it's about time.50 years have passed since the bay of pigs and and these old right wing farts are still moaning and bitching about it. The are the only one's that fleed their country and came here to get everything free. People in middle eastern countries and other countries stayed and fought to get their country back.At least the new generation of cuban-americans arn't obsessed with the past and  soon the old one's will be gone.And when will the news media stop calling them the exiled community.Its 3 generations ago.ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

miamiman911
miamiman911

VIVA FIDEL VIVA RAUL PATRIA O MUERTE VENCEREMOS

Myrantz
Myrantz

After reading only the first 3 pages of the article, all I can say is: I'm glad they're dying.  

TomasH1
TomasH1

Let's get it out of the way: Cuban-born, Marielita and I have a brain.  That describes me.

 

While I will agree with the MOST BASIC point that these people make (that the Castros are hateful tyrants) the biggest problem that these commentators have is that they ARE EXACTLY LIKE THE PEOPLE THEY ARE CRITICIZING.  You can't complain about someone cutting you off and then go out and do the same thing and expect to be praised for it.

 

If there is one thing I've learned growing up in this country it is that if we are to be considered the "good guys" then we can't act EXACTLY like the "bad guys". 

 

Firing people and cancelling shows because they disagree with your political point of view (check)...

Cherry picking the good but not talking about the bad or the ugly parts of your views or politicians (check)...

Blowing people up or threatening to kill people because they have a different political viewpoint than you (check)...

 

Seems to me that there is not a sliver of daylight between these right-wing foaming-at-the-mouth ideologues and the Castro brothers' regime they so want to liberate us from.  They aren't liberating us...They are taking us out of ONE viewpoint and subscribing us to a completely opposite and just as intransigent viewpoint with no room for dissent.

 

The problem is that no matter how much you try to explain to these people using, uh, I don't know, REASON, that they should not behave this way, they will never change.  They will never change because they believe that they are right and that their means justify their ends.  I can say this because my parents have always been Republicans.  No, they are not millionaires, no they are not white of Scandinavian descent nor were they slave owners during the Civil War.  They are poor ignorant people who believe everything the Republicans tell them because one time in 1980 Ronald Reagan said "Castro is bad" and Jimmy Carter didn't.

 

I've tried to explain to them that it was Jimmy Carter who authorized Mariel and that if Reagan had been in power when it happened we would not be living in this country, but to no avail.

 

One day I finally pinned down my stepfather and asked him why he was so opposed to the Democrats and Barack Obama.  He answered in a huff that it was because "Obama had not done anything to free Cuba".  Imagine that!

 

So I gave up.  I realized that you can't educate a populace that wants to remain ignorant.  You just have to wait them out.   They will all die out eventually and be replaced by some measure of civility.

 

It is inevitable.  Historically things always progress.  These people want to stop evolution or go backwards.  That is as futile as trying to stop all the waves on the beach. 

 

I, for one, hope that this phase will pass quickly and the country soon forgets the caricature of all Cubans that was imbedded into the national conscience by the few, the proud, the ignorant Cubans that will forever believe that "Esto no pasaba en Cuba" (This never use to happen in Cuba).

 

 

westkendallinsurance
westkendallinsurance

Cubans (me included) should not defame other Latin Americans as Tira Flechas, Indios etc.

Why? Our influence in this country, ex CEO's of major corps, two USA senators, countless successful businesses, musicians, Doctors of Medicine, etc speak for itself. I, for one, am not worried about what someone says about us.

run.randrand
run.randrand

YOU KNOW, FOLKS-I SAY THESE THINGS TEASINGLY--BUT I DO SIT ON THE PISTOL-AND KEEP MY GOLD LOCKED UP IN A SAFE--IT MAKES "GOOD FRIENDS"--EVEN BETTER! whahahahahahaha!

run.randrand
run.randrand

FACE DOWN IN THE FLAN WITH THEIR DYING BREATHS---SPILLING THE JEWELS OF CUBAN COFFEE OFF THE TABLES AS THEY DROP....

JP19
JP19

I rarely agree with the commentary on these shows, but these programs are uniquely Miami and our city would be worse off if we lose it. We have already lost so many things that made Miami special among American cities. 

miami1
miami1

i can only be happy this is happening. they're the assholes who hold this city back and make us the laughingstock of the nation. this colombian definitely won't miss them!!!!

edcal_33166
edcal_33166

 @TomasH1 Eloquent defense of Reason.  Your blood must boil when talking to these bozos.  As you say, at least you'll outlive them.

 

They keep the Cold War going because if Cuba were free they'd be just another immigrant group with no political power.  A loud immigrant group that everybody else got tired of 30 years ago.  If politicians weren't afraid of them, and realized that their views are not the majority view anymore, we might make some progress in dealing with Cuba.

 

And if the politicians realized that there are a lot of people of Cuban ancestry as reasonable as you, even the U.S. could progress.

jdrumi
jdrumi

 @JP19 Oh plzzzzzzz! don't make me laugh *I say better off for sure.

MiamiNative
MiamiNative

 @JP19 Ah, so their one-sided, bigoted, ignorant, and hateful commentary is what makes Miami special? Yeah, especially dumb.

Chetter
Chetter

 @miami1 Well, this Colombian has benefited alot from their business... I have had less than fortunate experiences with my own kind... nonetheless this isn't a racial matter, it's a matter of appreciation, and I appreciate our diverse community. Miami wouldn't be the same without our Cuban brethren ;)

jdrumi
jdrumi

 @manrodriguez1964  @miami1 Your comment is offensive and ignorant and this is coming from a Cuban American who's lived in this community for 47 years. 

Chetter
Chetter

 @manrodriguez1964  @miami1 Manrodriguez, shut the fuck up and stop putting cubans so high up on a pedestal... "Indio tiro flecha"? Y tu que eres estupido? Una niña que no pudo con  Castro, y se fue del miedo para Miami a hablar mierda de otras razas? STFU que mal hay en ser de decendientes indios??? Ojala podria verte en la calle para dar te una cachetada puta... 

portablefernie
portablefernie

 @manrodriguez1964  @miami1 You see, you give cubans a bad name. Dejame explicarte Halgo bobo. Los Cubanos Natales eran igual de indios que los de sur america. La unica differencia buddy is that the ones in south america at least put up a fight. Which ironically enough sounds familiar. Cuba is the only country that failed at a revolutionary attempt and blamed another country for it. Let it go. The Kennedys screwed you over.... by the 1960s the united states had screwed a lot of people over... you should have seen that coming. With that said. Let the free market decide the fate of the radio stations 

MiamiNative
MiamiNative

 @manrodriguez1964  @miami1 What a joke. Cubans are among the most racist, self-centered people I know. They hate blacks, which I find ironic since half of Cuba is black. They dont lift a finger to help anyone but their own.

jdrumi
jdrumi

 @manrodriguez1964  @miami1 Listen manrodriguez1964, I am Cuban but I totally disagree with your ideas, and  your  foolish comments. I suggest you get better imformed. 

manrodriguez1964
manrodriguez1964

 @jdrumi  @miami1 You SOB, more offensive is having these trolls criticizing Cubans in general, I truly doubt you're a Cuban, don't you read all the comments that are being made to Cuban Americans, be it the Politicians or Cubans in general, you're just another indio with the old inferiority complex who lives and breeds Topix while bashing and criticizing Cubans, but I enjoy humiliating these MF's, and a far as you residing in Dade for the past 47 years, good for you, knock yourself out,  I've been living in the states since 1960 and have lived up north where it was a totally different world just like Miami back in the 60's and 70's, if you know what I mean.

floggingfernie
floggingfernie

whatever dude, you are old,  what legacy do you have?  when you leave this world nobody will remember or miss you. I pity, PITY YOU. You do an amazing disservice to all Cubans. TO  ALL OF THEM.  You are gonna give yourself cancer with that hatred growing inside of you. This will be my last post yo you, because obviously, you like the cancer i mentioned, cannot be stopped or reason with. Have a good life. tomorrow when you get ready to run "your business" whether fictional or real, profitable or not, look at yourself in the mirror. Then see your wrinkles and your gray hairs and your receding hairline. And listen to the sound of your life ticking away.  Cause you are getting older everyday and you never gonna be 24 again like I am right now, enjoying every minute of life. 8) good night

manrodriguez1964
manrodriguez1964

 @floggingfernie  @mickeytardust  @ChetterWho am I voting for? What do you care, you think one or the other is going to make a big difference in your life, keep dreaming if you think like the normal Goe,  I've been in business for 28 years  and not once have I seen or felt any difference of who has been on the seat.as President, the only huge problem i do see is the over population of immigrants coming into the country, not only in the U.S. but world wide. Our water reserves are depleting in an enormous rate and the world population is just too out of control which today we are already experiencing human clashing of one group with another and so on.

manrodriguez1964
manrodriguez1964

 @floggingfernie  @mickeytardust  @Chetter Indio you couldn't afford me even if you asked your daddy to buy me out, does your mommy know you're in the internet day in and day out criticizing an elite group of people that, not only have been  the most successful of all Hispanics in the U.S, be it economically and professionally, I must think that some Cuban kicked the living crap out of you and now you're all  wind up about it, or is it total envy not only because we're successful and white, but then it's probably both right indito. Someone has to be burning in hatred and envy  towards a group of people in order to spend day in and day out bashing the crap out of a group who in fact are and have been more successful then yours.

manrodriguez1964
manrodriguez1964

 @Chetter Indio It's not a matter of wanting to be anglo, I'm a Caucasian which you're definitely not.

manrodriguez1964
manrodriguez1964

 @floggingfernie  @mickeytardust  @Chetter You're 24 years of age, a typical mojon who thinks they have the world grabbed by it's ball, the typical know it all jack asses that can't be told otherwise cause you punks think you know it all. Humiliate? Ha ha ha ha, humiliate me, ha!!!!!! You smell like the mojon from Topix, what's one of your forum names Cherokee. Indio maricoooooooon, hehe hehehe.

floggingfernie
floggingfernie

 @mickeytardust  @manrodriguez1964  @Chetter 

 

dude i could give three shits who or what you think i am. I dont go by labels or care three shits what other people say. I just like to humiliate people like the 50 year old guy that has nothing better to do with his time. Keep looking back pops, cause your best days are behind you. Just for giggles? I'm gonna say I'm an Indio from Venezuela and wait for your hilariously racist response

 

sincerely 

 

Generation Millennium

 

 

PS: Your welcome for paying your social security 

 

 

 

manrodriguez1964
manrodriguez1964

 @mickeytardust  @floggingfernie  @Chetter Buddy, Miami was the bomb back in the 70's and  80's, when I went to High School back then, it was a totally different world, now you see these goons that have invaded Miami, it is definitely a 4th world jungle.

manrodriguez1964
manrodriguez1964

 @Chetter Indio why don't you say it in my face, but then you're to of a fag to confront me. Don't forget the dog shit.

mickeytardust
mickeytardust

 @floggingfernie  @manrodriguez1964  @Chetter   

floggingfernie is clearly un indio and so is Chetter. Irish blood hahhaha 

 

We, the white men, tried to make your people civilized, but there's just no way with these natives... "The white man's burden" is truly a great one. And yes, I did just reference Kipling, ya biaatch!

manrodriguez1964
manrodriguez1964

 @Chetter i'll keep taliking the truth, Indito don't forget about the job offer, I'll buy you lunch and dinner.

Chetter
Chetter

 @manrodriguez1964 Keep talking shit, little dick having pussy bitch... Were you molested as a child? Get help...

manrodriguez1964
manrodriguez1964

 @Chetter Indio acuerdate que mi gente lo sacaron de tus tierras, te dimo ropa, educacion el idioma Castellano, y muchas otras cosas mas. Acuerdate que me hace falta para que recojas la mierda de perro.

Chetter
Chetter

 @manrodriguez1964  Pobrecita, como se siente tener la pinga en reversa y tu boca en los huevos de tu meastro Fidel? Keep talking shit, you can't handle the truth. You can't handle the fact that your skirt has already been pulled up and everybody who reads this article will come off thinking "manrodriguez1964 es tremenda putita, imaginese la pobre mujer que lo partio por el culo..." You are such a piece off shit ... Pray to god you don't get stepped on...

 

manrodriguez1964 es un cubano resentido sin huevos que sueña con la pinga de Fidel... Pobrecita

 

 

manrodriguez1964
manrodriguez1964

 @floggingfernie  @Chetter  @miami1 Indio mariconcito solo sabes hablar mierda, primero te la comes y despues la hablas, tu no sabes nada de Cuba solo la mierda falsa que hablan los comunistas metiendole informaciones falsas a todos los indigenas tuyos de toddos los paises en latino America.

manrodriguez1964
manrodriguez1964

 @Chetter  @miami1 Indito remember that my ancestors took your land and raped your women, we taught your people how to dress with white mans clothing and brought you scums down from the tree, what more do you inditos want, how mush dick up the ass can you fucks take.

Chetter
Chetter

 @manrodriguez1964  @miami1 I am actually a white male with family that resides in Colombia of Irish Blood.. As an American I am appalled by your racist elitist remarks and wish you would refrain from them if you don't want any trouble. I would love to see you in person and give you a piece of my mind, but scum like you don't deserve that type of attention.. You're better off in your small group of circle jerk closet case neo-cons, lathered in the excretions of your self hate... You are the worst of any human being because your method of measuring people is so primitive, it belongs in the same place you fantasize of being: In a disease infested colonial village in the 1400's in Spain getting raped by the King you worship so much... 

floggingfernie
floggingfernie

 @manrodriguez1964  @Chetter  @miami1 por que no dejais de hablar mierda y haz algo por la libertad de tu Pais.  Que mucha mierda hablas tio. Eres en indio igual que todos y no hay ningun problema con ser indio tienes problema de estima personal. You have major self-esteem issues buddy. Y eres un poco patetico "por lo menos tu pais es libre" Bueno haz algo so tonto. Lo que te dije de cuba no te lo dije de desrepeto. Ustedes son Victimas perpetuas. Refugiados para siempre deberias tener un poco de humilidad. If i said you guys been fucked in the ass for 200 years (the spanish empire, then the mobsters, then batista, then the castros), i meant to say you guys are victims. But you guys are victims by choice. And i can understand the position of  "Look i rather be fucked in the ass than shot in the head", but the fact remains people like you dont do anything for Cuba's "libertad".  Look this country has tons of refugees. They all get to the country and try to live and forget. People like you dont, they hang on to this hate, but dont do anything about it. I mean if you really wanted "libertad" it doesnt take much effort to smuggle crates of Ak-47 and take havana within a week. But nothing gets done. Maybe it should sink into your thick head that nobody really cares about that island. Just like nobody cares about Haiti. It has never crossed your mind that they use your feelings for political and economical purposes?

manrodriguez1964
manrodriguez1964

 @jdrumi  @portablefernie  @miami1 I am totally aware and 110% sure what I'm talking about indito, and as far as being ignorant,paranoid,racist and a moron, that is what you and your kind have and are showing in these forums when it come to criticizing Cubans, Cubans who have been the most successful of all Hispanics living in the U.S., we're only a measly 4% of the Hispanic population and carry 50% of the wealth between Hispanics. 

info3345
info3345

 @manrodriguez1964  @portablefernie  @miami1

Eres un idiota racista de alto nivel. Por esta razon la majoria de los hispano parlientes a traves del mundo hablan mal de los miameros cubanos, falsos latinos con deseos de ser Europeos o Blancitos Americanos. Eres un Caribeno importado de otro pais y no lo que crees que eres. Sigue besando el culo de no se quien te han quitado la razon.  Racista y Traidor.  

manrodriguez1964
manrodriguez1964

 @portablefernie  @miami1 Indio negrito  dejame explicarte tu y tu indigenas no le pueden amararle a los cubanos los zapatos, ustedes son un fracaso y envidioso enconrtra los Cubanos. Olvidate de lo de kennnedy o lo que paso hace tantos anos, la verdad es que los Cubanos son los mas productivos economicamente entre todos los Hispanos en los Estados Unidos y te digo Hispano por respeto por que ni eres Hispano ni Latino, estudia los origines de lo que son eso terminos reales, tu lo mas que eres es o indigena nativo o decendiente  Africano o indio, acuerdate cara de mono que Rodriguez  es poco en la radio Cubana, look up Pablo Raul Alarcon and his son Spanish Broadcasting system, do you think the Cuban interest is done with, ha ha haha ha ha ah ah ha ha.

manrodriguez1964
manrodriguez1964

 @ttingab1es  @MiamiNative  @miami1 Facts, ha, ha, Moron,  or may I say indio, first off, Hispanic is not a race, it's an ethnicity, I guess your lack of education has placed you in the dumb klutz chair.

ttingab1es
ttingab1es

 @manrodriguez1964  @MiamiNative  @miami1 I'm a gringo, speak 4 languages fluently, including Spanish. I don't hate Cubans at all, in fact I'm married to one, and she is embarrassed more often then not by her own people's behavior. And last, since you are not used to dealing with facts, here's one: Cuban isn't a race. Hispanic is, but Cubans think they are the center of the universe anyway, so why wouldn't you think that?

 

Thanks for trying though.

manrodriguez1964
manrodriguez1964

 @MiamiNative  @miami1 Miaminative, ha!!, what a joke, native like a arepa, that's how much native of a U.S. American you are. Racist? Well,  who isn't deep down inside,  aren't you racist when you hate Cubans, duhhh, isn't that racist buddyboy.

 
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