While most of us born later than the 1960's have probably never heard border radio, we nonetheless have at least heard of it thanks to ZZTop's classic "Heard It On The X". By Mexican law, all radio station call letters had to begin with the letter "X", hence the title. These stations were situated just across the U.S. - Mexican border and blasted the North American continent with as much as 500,000 or even a million watts!
Perhaps the funniest part of the story is the anecdotes by people not far from the tower in southwest Texas near Del Rio, particularly who reported picking up transmissions off barbed wire fences, fillings in teeth and, in the last portion of the book that features the late Wolfman Jack, his recalling of birds flying too close to the towers and frying in mid-flight!
It's a wonderful history of preachers, the forerunners of today's televangelist's, quack doctors, some genuine musical genius, including a young Bob Wills before founding the Texas Playboys and, of course, the Wolfman himself.
Claims of these AM radio giants being heard world-wide can truly be considered a direct ancestor to the world wide web, complete with its own spam in the form of wild commercials and hawking some truly bizarre health products, prayer cloths and just about everything under the sun.
"Border Radio . . . " is well researched and written with obvious great admiration for a lost chapter in broadcast history. A fine read.