Commonly referred to as border blasters, these AM radio stations were licensed by the Mexican government as commercial radio stations that transmitted at very high power to the United States from various Mexican cities near the US/Mexico border. Licensed by Mexico's Ministry of Communications and Transport (SCT), the border blasters used transmitters with an output far in excess of licensed commercial stations in the United States.
In 1973 the border blaster XERB became world famous when George Lucas featured the station as the source for the musical soundtrack of his motion picture American Graffiti. While the federal government of the United States did not particularly like them, the stations the only restriction the United States government could place upon them was a law which forbade studios in the U.S. from linking by telephone to border-blaster transmitters in Mexico. This law was introduced in the wake of John R. Brinkley's romance with fascism prior to World War II on XERA.
As was the case between the 1930's and the 1970's, some border blaster stations in areas near larger American border cities such as San Diego are leased out by American broadcasting companies and air English-language programming targeting American audiences.
Mexican Border Blasters History
XERA, one of the border blasters near Del Rio, Texas.
The American side leases the station from the Mexican station owners/licence holders and feeds programming from their American studios to the Mexican transmitters via satellite.
Due to Mexican government regulations, these stations, like all radio stations in Mexico, must air the Mexican National Hour on Sunday evenings and play the Mexican National Anthem each day at midnight and 5 am. In addition, they must also give station identification in Spanish. This is usually done softly or during commercial breaks so the listeners on the American side won't usually notice it.
Most border blaster stations today program Spanish-language programming targeted at the Mexican side of the border. Some of the Spanish language border blasters target the US side of the border, some target both.