Commonly referred to as border blasters, these 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 those licensed commercial stations in the United States. The first border station, XED, began broadcasting from Reynosa, Tamaulipas, in 1930. Owned for a time by Houston theater owner and philanthropist Will Horwitz,
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. 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.
Tijuana / Rosarito Beach
-XEPRS-AM: This is the radio station, formerly known as XERB, featured in the George Lucas movie American Graffiti starring Wolfman Jack as the disc jockey. He moved to this station following his work on XERF.
- XETRA-AM 690 Khz Licensed to the Tijuana / Rosarito area of Baja California with additional studio facilities in Burbank, California. They operate with 77,500 watts during the daytime and 50,000 watts at night. Because Mexican law prohibits ownership of television and radio stations by foreign operators, the station is owned by Mexican interests and managed by an American company.
- XELO-AM At different times these same call letters were also assigned to other Mexican stations based in Nogales, Sonora, Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua and Piedras Negras in the state of Coahuila.
Ciudad Juárez (Across the border from El Paso, Texas)
Ciudad Acuña (Across the border from Del Rio, Texas)
- XER: 50,000 watts. August 18, 1932 - February 24, 1933
"Sunshine Station between the Nations" broadcasting on AM at 735 Kcs. This was the original station licensed to Dr. John R. Brinkley in Mexico which first signed on August 18, 1932 with a 50 kW transmitter and claimed 75 kW erp (effective radiated power) via an omni-directional antenna. The engineer was Will Branch of Fort Worth, Texas. The station was shut down by the Mexican authorities on February 24, 1933 and the Villa Acuña Broadcasting Company was dissolved.
- XERA: 50, 000 watts (claimed an antenna gain power of 1 million watts.) September 1935 - December 1939
In September 1935, which was twenty months after XER was forced off the air, Dr. Brinkley gained a new license for Villa Acuña (known today at Ciudad Acuna) from the Government of Mexico with new call letters of XERA. The station came on the air from the same location as the old XER but with a directional antenna. The new transmitter power was 50 Kw., but with a new antenna system Brinkley claimed an output of 1 megawatt (one million watts). XERA called itself "the world's most powerful broadcasting station" and Variety magazine claimed that it could be heard in New York City. Following the signing of various treaties with the United States the Government of Mexico revoked the license of XERA in the closing days of 1939.
- XERF-AM: 1570 KHz 250 KW 1947-
The station that made Wolfman Jack world famous for his disc jockey and sales presentations between 1962 and 1964. This station came on the air long after the era of both XERA and Dr. Brinkley, but it initially used the old XER/XERA facilities at Villa Acuna. The original powerful transmitter of XERA had been dismantled and shipped elsewhere prior to XERF being built. The station later moved to a new building where a 250-kilowatt RCA main transmitter was installed. The station came on the air with a power of 100 kW. For many years the station made money by selling its time after nightfall to American evangelists who broadcast in English to the United States.
Piedras Negras(Across the border from Eagle Pass, Texas)
- XEPN-AM was sister station to XER/XERA, and was also controlled by Dr. John Brinkley.
Monterrey (Approx. 200 west of McAllen, Texas. The capital city of the state of Nuevo Leon.)
- XEG-AM: 100,000 watts.
- XET-AM 990 KHz.
Nuevo Laredo (Across the border from Laredo, Texas)
- XENT-AM: 1933-1940
Operated by Norman G. Baker from 1933 until forced off the air in 1940; "The Calliaphone Station" (for an air-operated calliope invented by Baker) promoted a cancer-cure clinic of Baker's, essentially continuing his former station KTNT ("Know The Naked Truth") of Muscatine, Iowa. Brochures for the clinic urged patients to "phone 666 upon arrival in Laredo," attracting many complaints to the American Medical Association.
- XED-AM Perhaps the first radio station in Mexico to be considered a border-blaster. XED-AM was originally located at Reynosa, Tamaulipas. Located across the Rio Grande (Rio Bravo) river from McAllen, Texas. The station broadcast with a power of 10,000 watts (10 kW) which was the most powerful transmitter in Mexico at that time.
Reynosa (Across the Rio Grande river from McAllen, Texas.)
- XED-AM: The first radio station in Mexico to be considered a border-blaster. XED was originally located at Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Located across the Rio Grande from McAllen, Texas, the station broadcasted with a power of 10 kilowatts that was the most powerful transmitter in Mexico at that time.
- XEAW-AM: Another station that came under the management control of Dr. John R. Brinkley.
Tampico (Approximately 300 miles south of Brownsville, Texas.)