Michael Boss, XETRA “The Mighty 690” Tijuana Mexico | August, 1982

690 AM Tijuana Los Angeles San Diego
XETRA "The Mighty 690" Tijuana Mexico
XETRA “The Mighty 690” Tijuana Mexico

Courtesy of aircheckdownloads.com, here’s a ‘check that will warm the hearts of AM Top 40 listeners from Southern California. Admittedly, your webmaster has been all over the place ever since high school, and in 1984 I was in the U.S. Navy, attending Radioman “A” school in San Diego. This was one of the stations I listened to before they flipped to Oldies.

The Mighty 690 aimed its programming at Los Angeles – some 200 miles to the north, despite a transmitter in the badlands of Baja California south of the border in the Rosarito area. With 77,500 watts days (which, by virtue of it’s location on the AM dial gave it an effective 100,000 watts!) and 50KW at night, this station could be heard all over Southern California. Indeed, the Mighty 690 even had remote studios in Burbank, California. And just to make things interesting, XETRA was the first station in the market to broadcast in AM Stereo (of which your webmaster is a BIG proponent of). You’ll notice the stereo separation on this aircheck.

Tijuana Transmitters
The Tijuana Transmitter site, including XETRA.
Courtesy of Fybush.com

XETRA was considered one of those ‘Border Blaster’ stations, similar to XEROK 80, in Juarez, Mexico, a station about 20 miles south of the West Texas border at El Paso, albeit not quite as infamous. Although the station was owned by a Mexican company per Mexican law, it was run by an American company. Thus, an English language Top 40 format evolved by the 1980s, after a successful run as a “Beautiful Music” station through most of the 70s, and All-News before that in the 60s. There is more information available on the history of XETRA out there, and a good place to start might be this Fan Page on Facebook…

This features Michael Boss, and there’s a LOT of HIM on this scope – no shortage of personality at this station. Notice the top-of-the-hour Legal ID jingle… minus the actual ID. I actually remember it as a dual English/Spanish ID when I heard it in ’84 (the Spanish ID featured a young sounding woman almost whispering the ID in Spanish…. XETRA, Tijuana, Mexico). Anyway, the jingle was the same one used at 93/KHJ during it’s “Rhythm of Southern California” era in the late 70s.

If you heard “Extra” at all in its Top 40 or Oldies days (as “69 Extra Gold’), I think you’ll really enjoy this slice of AM Stereo magic!

This is Steve West. Most of you don’t know that I have no income at present and since the second of July, we have used all of our resources. My family and I are hoping that donations to airchexx will continue, to help us survive financially until my retirement income arrives sometime in August.
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  1. Tom Colthurst

    Wow, great memories from the past. When XETRA-690 and KFI-640 were the two dominant SoCal radio stations. The latter for Vin Scully and Dodgers (pre-MLB Padres). I guess KCBQ-1170 was up there, too.

    • Tony

      Indeed, great memories! The Mighty 690 jingle package was used by radio Luxembourg in the 1980’s in Europe. I was a huge fan of “the station of the ’80-ies” (and before “the station of the stars”). FYI radio Luxembourg transmitted with a power of 1.300 KWatts (indeed 1 million etc!) on AM on 208 metres in the medium wave band, 1440 Khz, from the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and was from the mid 1930’s on the leading pan-European commercial “hit” radio. You’ll find their version of the Mighty 690 jingles via:
      I presume Radio Luxembourg is nowadays in a kind of “sleep mode”, because it isn’t clear which way bigger (or I presume even pan-European) commercial radio in Europe will evolve: the internet, DRM(+), (T-)DAB, satellite,…? Bertelsmann AG (RTL Group), still owns the station.
      And the nostalgia continues: in the mid 1980-ies I was present (being a radiojock) in the making of a “variation” of the jingle package of The Mighty 690 for a local radio station in Belgium…

  2. calradiopd

    Tom: KCBQ was big in the summer of ’82, but as a country station (they flipped the year before).

    XETRA wasn’t much of a factor in San Diego at this point, being beaten soundly by KGB (in its 13K era) and B-100, with KS-103 about to launch in October.

    And KFI was well past its peak…the spring ’82 Arbitrons had them tied for 14th with a 2.5, badly trailing KIIS-FM (tied for 4th with a 3.9) and KIQQ-FM (tied for 6th with a 3.7).

    In fact, KFI would morph back into Adult Contemporary shortly after this.

    Oh, and KFI lost Vin Scully and the Dodgers to KABC in 1974.

  3. Kris Anderson

    Michael Boss was a great talent with the voice of God, a huge heart of pure gold and a mind that was one of a kind. I would love to know where he is and how he’s doing. Any word? He’s an old friend. -Kris Anderson Mighty 690 DJ 1981-82 69XtraGold 83-84.

    • Michael Boss


      It must be synchronicity. I was just thinking that I should post some old Mighty 690 air checks. It’s gratifying to see that someone got there before me. And there is a comment from Kris Anderson posted only fifteen days ago. Amazing!

      I’m living like an old bohemian in Denver and working on my novel-debauch, “Dirty Denver Blues” and, also, a lounge epic:”How I Met Allesandra At A Fab New York Martini Bar.”

      Thanks for the nice comments. We had some great times together (on and off the air). Michael Boss Mighty 690 (1981-1984) XTRA Gold (1984-1986)

      • Michael! How the heck do I get in touch with you. You can reach me through my website, Youtenna.com -Kris

        • Michael Boss

          Kris, watch for my email on Youtenna.com

  4. Michael, I have put this and other air checks of you on CD’s and play them at home and to others at our station. I visited with you twice at the Rosarito Beach studios and have been in touch with Kris the past couple of years. He has an internet station “youtenna” you might want to check out. I do 10am to 2pm mon-fri at classic hits KDES in Palm Springs. You have been mentioned favorably many times on the discussion boards on radioinfo.com.

    • Michael Boss

      Jonny, Many thanks for the “build up” and your interest in my career. By the way, I discovered that I have some rather remarkable air-checks with Kris Anderson and myself. On one of them we throw ten thousand dollars to an ecstatic Mighty 690 listener. These “checks” are on analog tape and still need to be transfered to digital. Perhaps I can upload them to airchexx.com one day.

      At its peak, the Mighty 690 had Frank Felix and Roger Agnew on board as consultants. The combined weekly listener cumes of the seven Southern California Arbitrons gave us something like two million listeners (one million in Los Angeles alone, where we had a 30 share in teens). The border blaster really was the West Coast Super-station.

      The Mexican engineers called it “El Poderoso Seis Noventa” (The Powerful 690) because half of Tijuana was listening. That’s all you heard on blaring radios everywhere and when you drove down Revolucion. In the clubs, all the rich girls dressed like Madonna.

      With the able assistance of Mr. Agnew, Frank(en)Felix had created a Monster!

  5. Dr. John Curtis.

    Looking for my old pal, Sam Bottecelli! Mike, do you know how to find him? Your old pal, Al.

    • Dr. Curtis. I have Sam on the Short Wave headset right now. He wants to know if you know the whereabouts of Lou P. Cheap. Sam is retired now on the island of Trinidad. Sam is AFK but I can field messages to him. Visit my website and drop an email. Youtenna dot com.

      • Dr. John Curtis.

        Oh no! That’s hilarious. Let Mike know that Lou P. Cheap is trying to sell old Russian locomotives and Deutz riverboat diesels to the BNSF over in Lamar! He was asked to leave CA for trying to sell the American River bridge back to Sacramento. He, was in Alsaka, trying to sell totem poles to the Canadians down in the Yukon. The mounties ran him out of there and he boarded a garbage scow, carrying nuke waste from Fukishima to San Pedro. How he got to Lamar is a guess but there was a rumour of him holding up the Grand Canyon Express and taking that to Raton then over the hill. The train was abandoned but eventually recovered by the GCE. We don’t know exactly where he is but he owes a ton of money to Al. He had better deal with it. Al doesn’t like to be given the bum’s, ahem, rush. I need Mikey’s phone# and fast. This whole thing get get out of control fast and he’s the only one who can deal with it along with myself. JMB, phone home! P.S. Leave the worms behind. Thanks.
        Dr. John.

  6. John O'Flaherty

    Hi I remember the Mighty 690 in the early 80’s. At night I could hear it up in the San Francisco Bay Area no problem. Spending weeks down in So-Cal with family and friends I could of course hear it even better.
    I have a question regarding something I always wondered about Mighty 690. When listening to the songs, it always seemed like they were being played up a 1/2 or whole key too fast– like the music was sped up just a tad. Was this done on purpose? Or was it some sort of result of the radio station operating in Mexico where electricity (voltage or cycles or what have you) was at a different rate, so when it got to the United States, it sounded like the pitch was raised?
    I’m wondering if anyone else ever remembers hearing the pitch raise thing I’m describing?

    • According to Kris Anderson, the increase in speed was intentional. The plan was to make the other stations sound like a drag by comparison. The cover story that programmers Frank Felix and Roger Agnew gave the press was that it was done to compensate for the fluctuating Mexican power grid. The fact is, the music was on cartridge tape, prerecorded at a slightly higher speed, anywhere from 1.5 to 3 percent depending on how fast they thought they could get away with for each individual song. The power grid in Mexico was indeed unreliable at that time, but it was at 60cps just like American power, and didn’t usually cause turntables to run slowly

  7. Michael – hope all is well – I am trying to find your contact info as I’m writing an article on the old Mighty 690 and would love to chat if you have time

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