Photo tour of radio stations
in Bogotá and Barranquilla
Colombia is a treasure trove
for every DXer, and over the years both I and Jim
Solatie have heard around 120-130 AM and shortwave
stations from there. Not all of them are however
overly enthusiastic about responding to reception
reports, so when we got a chance to travel to Colombia
in November 2011, we needed to visit a few radio
stations in Bogotá and Barranquilla. Colombia
was however not chosen as a winter break destination
because of it's radio scene, but because Lufthansa
happened to offer dirt cheap tickets 250
euros from Helsinki to Bogotá and back was
an offer that we couldn't refuse.
The first day was spent sightseeing in Bogotá.
A view from the slopes of Monserrate hill to downtown
during one of the few moments when it was not raining
The altitude of Monserrate
(3150 meters above sea level) required a hefty dose
of alleviation in the form of coca tea.
Monalisa by Fernando Botero in Museo de Botero
rarely has such distinguished company: surrounded
by famous Colombian DXer Rafael Rodríguez
and famous Finnish DXer Jim Solatie!
This building in the old Candelaria section of Bogotá
houses Emisora Mariana (1400 kHz). It was a holiday,
so we just admired the architecture from the outside
and sought protection from the downpour.
On our second day in Bogotá we started from
the headquarters of Caracol Radio, occupying two
floors in a modern office building at Calle 67 No.
7-37. Caracol is also the home of Oxígeno
Radio, W Radio and Radio Recuerdos (690 AM), as
well as FM-only stations Los 40 Principales, Radioacktiva,
Tropicana Estereo, Colorin Colorradio, Bésame
(same company as Bésame 940 AM in Mexico
City) and HJCK, which has progressed even further
by abandoning FM in favor of Internet.
Gustavo Gómez hosts Hoy por Hoy talkshow
on Caracol Radio nationwide. Hoy por Hoy is a household
name also in Spain, where it is one of the flagship
shows of Cadena SER. Not incidentally, both Caracol
and SER are owned by Spanish media conglomerate
W Radio is heard in Bogotá on 850 kHz. All
the Caracol brands have just one studio each along
the same corridor.
Dora Luz Moreno is coordinator for virtual content
at Caracol Radio, and director of Colorin Colorradio,
an FM-only station aimed for children. Until a few
years ago the station was operated in Bogotá
on 1310 kHz, a frequency which is now used by Radio
The Dios es Amor Pentecostal church in Bogotá
used to run Ecos de Colombia (1160 kHz) until November
2010, but nowadays they broadcast over Radio Santa
Fé (1070 kHz). Their radio brand is known
as La Voz de la Liberación (Voice of Liberation),
a program that is widely heard also for example
on Peruvian stations.
After showing their studio, Dios es Amor personnel
prayed for us to see the light. Naturally, it was
a miracle of God that I had picked up their transmission
halfway across the globe. On the right is Patricia
Pinilla, who signed my verification card.
Cadena Melodía is a family-run business just
two blocks away from Dios es Amor. Note the multicolored
paint spots on their glass facade. They are paint
bombs thrown by students demonstrating against University
tuition fees the radio station just happened
to be on the protest route.
Vice President Gerardo Paez Mejia wrote us an exemplary
verification letter, so he does know what DXers
request, although rarely gets around to confirming
The building has been built and decorated specifically
for Cadena Melodía with some impressive details,
including this large window in the hallway. Cadena
Melodía has a 100-kW transmitter on 730 kHz,
but the riverfront transmitter site is flooded,
so a spare 30-kW transmitter is currently used.
Don't be surprised if you hear
some Finnish music on Colombian radio stations,
as we left a couple of CDs to every station we visited,
along with some other goodies.
RCN Antena 2 (most commonly heard
in Europe over the Bogotá transmitter on
650 kHz) is the nationwide sports channel of the
network. The TV shows a soccer game between Colombia
and Argentina. At this point in time everyone in
Colombia was still hopeful...
This studio at RCN can accommodate
quite a large group attending a talkshow. The modern
facilities of RCN are located inside a block of
old townhouses, but rain prevented any outdoor documentation
of the historic premises. We
saw every single studio at RCN, and there
were very, very many of them. Six or seven floors
full of studios, I lost count.
RCN is also home to La Cariñosa. Fortunately
for DXers, La Cariñosa stations air local
station identifications. Currently, a total of 16
AM stations operate around the country, the Bogotá
station on 610 kHz being the most commonly heard.
Yet another network visit
in Bogotá. Gregory Montoya and Jim showing
the four stations which Jim got verified this time.
Gregory works for Cadena Radial Auténtica,
whose flagship stations in Bogotá are Auténtica
540 and Mundial 1370.
Visiting radio stations
can be hard work. You have to greet everyone ;)
Jim at Todelar and their FM salsa station La Z 92.9
MHz. After getting a taste of the beauty of Bogotá,
we headed to Barranquilla not only because
the new Señorita Colombia Daniela Álvarez
is a barranquillera, and was crowned two
On the way, we saw the enormous floods all along
the Magdalena River. By the time of our visit, the
floods and landslides of the year's second rainy
season had killed at least 50 people.
Not a single sign outside, but
an antenna revealed the location of Radio Mar Caribe
Internacional (870 kHz), our first radio destination
just seven blocks from our hotel in Barranquilla.
I arranged appointments with
the big networks beforehand, but the smaller stations
didn't reply to any emails, so we just showed up.
Eventually the reception was enthusiastic everywhere,
but getting in to Radio Mar Caribe took some explaining.
The owner of the station works as Colombian ambassador
to South Africa, but gerente Celia Jimenez Gonzalez
is in charge and knows how to respond to reception
At nearly every station we were
invited to take part in the ongoing live program.
Explaining DXing was fun, and our level of Spanish
may have contributed to some additional unintended
humor. We also recorded some Spanish and Finnish
language station identifications for Radio Mar Caribe
Internacional "La Campeona" and
a couple of other stations.
Second from left Peity Lorena
Monterrosa, host of the program "Las Mujeres
dicen ellos contradicen"
a program trying to give a voice to dissenting viewpoints,
including the male and female perspectives to various
issues. Better not to ask our spouses whether they
contradicen about our Caravana por las
confirmaciones, which we thought was a really
cool idea and an unforgettable experience.
Voz de la Patria Celestial at
Carrera 45 No. 76-125 was our second stop in Barranquilla.
Originally this station was a newstalk-oriented
Voice of the fatherland (patria), but as
its current name Voice of the heavenly home
suggests, it is now a thoroughly Christian station,
a format that is not in short supply in Barranquilla.
Pastor Gregorio was just ending
his program on the station, and decided to join
us for the rest of the day visiting other radio
stations in Barranquilla.
The entire management was out
of town, but we still got quite a large sample of
the smiling staff of Voz de la Patria Celestial.
If you're nice, you just might get a QSL signed
by secretary Leyla Barrios (third from right). If
you're naughty like we, you might first need to
pay a personal visit to the station.
Looks like we're getting closer
and closer to heaven, or at least up the dial. Radio
Vida Nueva operates on 1490 kHz. Although it is
not as common in Europe as Emisora Punto Cinco on
the same frequency, also Radio Vida Nueva has occasionally
made it across the Atlantic.
Assembling in the studio where
we were interviewed by Santander Orozco, Director
Productor Radial (left). He sent us a copy of the
(MP3 file). Hear our seamless cooperation in trying
to explain the meaning of a DXer's life... I only
wish I could remember the station name correctly
next time ;)
Radio Vida Nueva has developed
into quite an impressive mission. The organization
runs a bilingual Spanish-English Boston International
school which hopes to offer its hundreds of
poor pupils quality education at an affordable cost.
We even took part in one of the classes. On the
right is teacher Amy Ribon, who kindly took us on
a tour of Barranquilla later in the evening.
Back to secular circles, and
Emisora Atlantico, the most popular AM station in
Barranquilla. I already had an email QSL from years
ago, but Jim scored a new point here
cause for a victory celebration.
Again we were interviewed on
the air, with a video streamed on their website,
so by now half of barranquilleras should
know that a couple of crazy Finns are visiting,
and running from one radio station to another instead
of enjoying the beautiful local ladies, oops, I
mean the beautiful local landscape.
A mural covers the entire wall
in the lobby of Emisora Atlantico
Radio Libertad (QSL missing from
Jim) and Radio Tropical (QSL missing from Mika)
are located in a large publishing house which doesn't
look too shabby from the outside but has seen better
The interview at Radio Tropical
was particularly challenging linguistically, as
in addition to DXing we talked about press freedom
One of the many stations in the
building is Emisoras Unidas, which puts out a nice
signal in Barranquilla on 720 kHz, but is a terribly
difficult catch in Europe. Oh well, at least we
still have some challenges left in Barranquilla.
The last stop of the day. Secretary
Elisa Navarro de la Hoz at La Voz de la Costa (1190
kHz) had kindly sent me a detailed and warm reply
to my earlier report, but Jim's QSL was missing,
so we paid a surprise visit.
I would remember what to say
if I could just take my eyes off you...
After a successful round of radio
station visits, it was time to focus on the more
touristy activities, such as DXing in extreme circumstances
at the Caribbean Sea. Getting to this beach at the
Tayrona National Park required a couple of hours
of hiking through the rainforest. Quite a contrast
to the cabin
in the Finnish Lapland where we caught our Colombian
On the day of departure, we still
found time to visit La Voz Amiga, Jim's rare catch
in Ubaté, 100 km north of Bogotá.
It was a Sunday, and nobody was at the station to
open the doors, but Jim left a message and got a
prompt email response. Mission completed!
on November 30, 2011)