Radio San Miguel turns 52
By Antonio De Jesús Aguado
On Monday, August 26, San Miguel’s historic radio station, XESQ, celebrated 52 years of service. As the announcers proclaim over the airwaves, “Adelante la SQ!”
On Saturday, August 26, 1961, several people, among them don Manuel Zavala, gathered at the Teatro Ángela Peralta to inaugurate the city’s radio station, XESQ. At that time San Miguel had only about 20,000 inhabitants, so 500 watts of power were sufficient.
The radio station was a concession granted by the Federal Commission of Telecommunications to General Ramón Rodríguez Familiar, then the governor of Querétaro. At first they could not decide whether to install the station in San Miguel or Querétaro, and thus the last two call letters were designated “SQ.”
On December 8 of the same year, don Manuel Zavala began broadcasting the most popular radio program in the city, “Sucesos sucedidos o que van a suceder” (Happenings That Have Happened or Are Going to Happen). He hosted the program for 45 years, until his death in 2006. Currently, the program is hosted by Javier Zavala, his son and current director of the radio station, who commented that he is “more irreverent” and for that reason there are some who like the program and others who do not. Through this program sanmiguelenses find out about who is getting married, who was born or passed away, and even who is getting divorced, along with other news about goings-on in the city.
In 1970, General Rodríguez realized he was not making a profit from the radio station and decided to sell it. Some sanmiguelenses, bought it, through a civil association, among them don Manuel Zavala. Javier Zavala said that it was not a good business because the stores in the city did not want to advertise; there were few inhabitants, and they knew where the businesses were located. The station, however, overcame its financial falterings.
Over the decades the radio station has kept its original essence, which according to the director is to be close to people and to be a link among them. It is also a station where residents are free to speak their minds. The broadcasting booth is still located in the patio at Sollano 4 and is accessible to all.
For a long time, the radio station functioned as a mailing address for people from the rural communities who had relatives in other cities. Their relatives used to send them letters and an announcer would let them know on the air that they had received mail. Later, a special program called “El Cartero del Aire,” the Postman of the Air, was initiated. Nowadays there are not as many letters or packages as in the past, but the program still exists.
The owners of the radio station have always had a sense of social responsibility; sometimes people would come to the station to make a long-distance call, especially to the US, and they helped them. Later, they came up with the idea of installing a phone booth and began announcing the date and time that a call would come through for a listener.
The director said that the station is very local and preserves the same essence it began with 52 years ago, because it continues to offer a social service to San Miguel’s residents and is one of the few stations in the country that still plays noncommercial Mexican music. Although they have the equipment to automate the station they have not done so, and there are live radio announcers from 6am–10pm.
Radio XESQ has told the story of San Miguel for 52 years. Its power was increased from 500 to 2,500 watts of power on 1280 AM, and a few years ago it began transmitting with 6,000 watts of power on 103.3 FM.