John Long (WAVZ) was the Programming genius behind this short lived but fantastic Top 40 format, leased from the Mexican government on XEROK. Located just across the Rio Grande, this station was a ‘Superpower’ AM like none other.
Actually, the real history of this ‘Border Blaster’, as it was called, starts in the early 1940s. The original call letters were XELO. In 1941, the station’s high-power transmitter was custom built, efficiently stepping the power up to 150,000 watts. While this is nothing by comparison to Powell Crosley’s WLW Cincinnati and it’s 500,000 watt transmitter, it is enough to make it easily the most powerful AM station in North America.
In 1972, A group of American investors leased out XELO and launched a Top 40 format. The call letters were changed to XEROK, and the station took on the slogans, “X-Rock 80” and “The Sun City Streaker”. John Long was called in to program the station.
Having a radio station in Mexico presented some unique challenges to the Programmer and his staff. The only solution available, due to the impracticability of jocks crossing the border from USA to Mexico for daily radio shows, was to record them ahead of time, which they did in a studio building in El Paso, TX. The jocks would record the shows in real time, as if they were in the actual station, then play them back at exactly the same time the next day at the station. The tapes were sent to Juarez by courrier. Later, in the early 1980s, a Studio-Transmitter Link (STL) Linked the station and its American studios, allowing for live broadcasting.
The top 40 format is said to have survived into the early to mid 1980s, but we don’t have a date as to when the lease arrangement ended. We do know it was sometime around when one of the El Paso rock stations took over as the number one station in that city. The demise of AM top 40 even happened at the most powerful one in North America.