- Radio round
Peruvians went to the polls on
April 9th 2000 to elect a president and a new parliament.
I went along - to report on what proved to be the
first round of the elections and on other issues
for YLE TV News. Traveling around the country from
April 1st to 12th I also seized the chance to visit
a few Peruvian radio stations on the way. Most Peruvian
stations are notoriously tough to QSL, so I was
armed with a bunch of reception reports from myself
and other Finnish DXers.
a few hours of sleep, before dawn on April 2nd,
the crew set out on a lengthy journey over the Andes
- the crew meaning the driver of a four-wheel drive
UN pick-up, me the reporter, my Peruvian field producer
and my Spanish cameraman.
From Lima, the road rapidly crept
up to 4818 meters above sea level. Patches of snow
covered the roadside at the highest point in Ticlio,
after which the filthy effluents of the Andean mining
towns began to flow east, to the Amazon.
My field producer was hit by
altitude sickness, but the descent was only gradual
and so relief took some time. We had a late breakfast
in La Oroya with the next stop being in Junín,
still 4105 meters above sea level. Junín
of course is the home of Radio Libertad, so I couldn't
resist paying a brief visit, even though KLM had
lost my luggage and I had no reception reports to
Obviously, the lost luggage was
a much greater problem for my assignment in the
selva, the Peruvian jungle, since I had lost
everything from mosquito repellent to background
documents and all my clothes - all of which I got
only after four days when back in Lima.
Radio Libertad de Junín
(5039 kHz) is located at Jirón Cerro de Pasco
No. 582, a dirt alley not far from the beautiful
center of Junín. The station letterhead still
gives the previous address, Jirón Simón
Bolivar 497. I was welcomed by Director gerente
Mauro Chaccha Guere, his wife and Luis Molina Llanos,
who had just finished hosting the morning program.
You may hear Molina's voice also in the early evening
hours local time, which is prime time for picking
up Peruvian stations in Europe.
Molina took advantage of our
visit by making an interview and by recording a
few promos in different languages. Now you may even
hear a station identification in English, Finnish
Chaccha explained that Junín
is suffering from a prolonged economic depression,
which according to him is partly due to the economic
policies of President Alberto Fujimori. By lowering
tolls Fujimori has paved way for the import of meat
from neighbouring Ecuador, which has hit hard on
the less efficient livestock production in the Junín
region. Still, sheep and alpaka were grazing the
endless steppe surrounding Junín, and roadside
farms offered fresh cheese for sale.
As a consequence of the recession,
Radio Libertad de Junín has suffered from
the lack of listeners' paid messages, and with practically
no commercial advertising, the station is on the
verge of going bankrupt, says Chaccha. Election
campaign ads were few.
All this means that as foreign
correspondence does not generate any income, Chaccha
is not particularly interested in responding to
reception reports. No wonder also considering what
he receives: the first reception report his wife
showed me - if you can call it a reception report
- was from some Mr. Bellabarba... After my requests,
Chaccha and his wife were able to locate some more
decent reports, and I was happy to receive verifications
for myself, Tuomas Talka and Juha Ignatius.
Chaccha offered us local booze
made of a plant called maka. And so we toasted to
a better future for Radio Libertad de Junín.
As for a better future for DXers vying for a QSL,
you could try paying generously for all the expenses
- that should improve your odds from the otherwise
zero probability. The station does know very well
what DXers want, but responding seems to be mostly
a question of money and interest.
After Junín our journey
took us to the grim mining town of Cerro de Pasco
(4333 meters above sea level), where we tried to
visit Radio Altura. It was Sunday, and the offices
were closed, only the host of the ongoing show was
working. He did a quick interview of us, but we
weren't able to browse the reports the station had
We then continued down to the
real wild west, the seedy town of Tingo Maria and
the adjacent Valle del Monzón (Monzón
River Valley), which is the worldwide center of
coca growing. Tracing the illegal coca business
here in the ceja de la selva (eyebrow of
the jungle) of the Upper Huallaga Valley was quite
an adventure: at one point we narrowly escaped from
being robbed by highway bandits who had set up a
roadblock. Several cars were held up before local
campesinos took up arms, which resulted in
a firefight in the jungle. The only surprising feature
of the incident was that eventually someone bothered
to inform the police about it.
We got our share of risks throughout
the journey: a couple of days later - near Huancayo
- in the press convoy of President Alberto Fujimori,
we luckily avoided a car accident, in which one
cameraman was killed and seven other people injured.
And a few days later in Cusco, I fortunately happened
to take a helicopter instead of the alternative
medium, a train, which derailed because of a landslide...
I have spared the details of
these adventures for the television audience of
my very own TV News and Atlas, a current affairs
show of the Finnish
Broadcasting Company (YLE).
One of my stories from Peru -
about coca cultivation and efforts to reduce it
- has also been aired on CNN
World Report. On the CNN website you can view
of this story - or even order the video. But
now, back to the radio scene.
Five days later, alive but suffering
from high fever as a result of catching salmonella
in the jungle, I visited Cusco (spelled also as
Cuzco or Qosqo, the politically most correct version).
Cusco, at an altitude of 3300 meters, used to be
the heart of the Inca empire - Qosqo meaning the
navel of the world. The inca nation was called Tahuantinsuyu
(or Tawantinsuyo), meaning the four corners of the
world. And its current voice, Radio Tawantinsuyo,
indeed reaches the four corners of the world.
I picked up Radio Tawantinsuyo
years ago on 6173 kHz, off the nominal frequency
of 6175 kHz. Long ago the station used also 4910
kHz in the 60 meter band. Locally it is received
on 91.3 FM and regionally on 1190 kHz AM.
Radio Tawantinsuyo is located
on Cusco's main street, Avenida del Sol 806, but
mail can be sent to Casilla 39. On the street level
there is a counter where listeners can leave their
paid messages, mensajes, which is the main
source of income for the station. A studio is located
on the same level, while offices are upstairs.
Radio Tawantinsuyo claims to
be the most popular station in Cusco. It was founded
in 1948. Station manager, Ing. Raúl Montesinos
Espejo has been in charge throughout the years.
Recently a book about his long career and the history
of his station was published under the title Una
Vida y un Rumbo.
The office of Montesinos is covered
by diplomas. Some of them are from Bolivia, where
Montesinos began his broadcasting career in 1941
by founding Radio Rural in the city of Cochabamba.
Today the same station is known as Radio Cultura
(1090 kHz). The Cusco station was also began on
mediumwaves under the name Radio Rural. Competition
with Radio Cusco was fierce, but eventually there
was room for both. In 1955 a shortwave transmitter
was added, and in 1956 the station was officially
renamed Radio Tawantinsuyo.
Montesinos has always wanted
to promote the indigenous culture of the heirs of
the Inca nation. The format of Radio Tawantinsuyo
- mostly traditional folk music (huaynos) - is an
expression of this. In 1973 Montesinos initiated
the creation of the flag of Tawantinsuyo, which
today decorates the Plaza de Armas (central
square of Cusco) along with the official Peruvian
Montesinos has founded and named
after himself a museum of traditional local clothing.
An item from the collection is featured on the Radio
Tawantinsuyo folder used as a QSL. Montesinos is
also involved in the most famous Cusco festival,
the Inti Raymi (the Festival of the Sun),
held annually on June 24th. That's when the day
is shortest, and fires are lit to bring back the
Montesinos is happy that his
station can be heard abroad - but he's not known
for having much interest in verifying reception
reports. At my request, I received verifications
for myself and five other Finnish DXers (Jarmo Havukunnas,
Markus Salonen, Jim Solatie, Ilkka Suni and Hannu
Radio La Hora
This cusqueña station
is an offspring of Radio Tawantinsuyo. Located in
the same block, with an address on Avenida Garcilaso,
Radio La Hora (1400 and 4855 kHz) is headed by Edmundo
Montesinos G., the son of Raúl Montesinos
Espejo. Edmundo learned the trade at his father's
station, and later set up a station of his own,
with a profile aimed at a younger audience. Accordingly,
the station has a slogan La Emisora de la Juventud.
Montesinos junior hasn't displayed
much more interest in reception reports than his
father, but fortunately he has allowed someone else
to take care of replying to reports. Mr. Carlos
Gamarra Moscoso works at the station and is a shortwave
listener himself. Some sources name him as Director,
but he is (only) Director de Frecuencias.
I believe that in this case title matters, as Mr.
Montesinos might find it a bit annoying if the person
getting all the mail is being called the boss. Carlos
was not at the station when I visited, but luckily
he came by at the hotel later, when I was bedridden
For the past couple of years
Carlos has done his QSL-duties with an utmost sense
of dedication and responsibility, and has kept a
detailed log of all reports received and all verifications
sent out. He has tried to send out verifications
for many old reports as well, but some have bounced
back due to outdated addresses, which is the main
reason why he hasn't been able to deliver all confirmations.
If you haven't received a reply, please send a follow-up
to Carlos, preferably with a return postage. A reply
is guaranteed for all correct reports - he does
Carlos has just one wish: please
do let him know once you have received the verification.
The mail service is somewhat unreliable, and Carlos
is very worried that some of the QSLs sent by him
never reach recipients - he definitely knows the
value of QSLs. So, all of you who have received
a QSL from him, he would really appreciate a short
thank you note.
It wouldn't hurt if you also
told Gerente Montesinos how much you appreciate
the efforts of Carlos Gamarra Moscoso, whose dedication
is indeed unparallelled in all of Peru. Instead
of the station address, Carlos says however that
reports reach him with more certainty, if sent to
his home address: Avenida Garcilaso No. 411, Wanchaq,
Cusco. And as he is DXer, I am sure he would enjoy
receiving the same kind of radio memorabilia that
all we DXers love to collect.
Both Carlos and Edmundo by the
way should already be wearing their stylish YLE
caps under the scorching sun of the highlands...
I later sent Carlos also my WRTH - a book which
would otherwise be out of reach for any Peruvian
DXer outside the capital.
During the first week of July
2000 Radio La Hora is hoping to inaugurate a new
2-kilowatt shortwave transmitter, doubling the present
power. Funding for the new transmitter is however
still partly unresolved.
Radio San Miguel
Although difficult, I will try
to comment something without risking a libel action.
To put it briefly, despite feeling very sick, I
endured nearly two hours at the station, because
they wanted to interview me not only on radio (like
all the other stations), but also on TV. The company
has a local TV channel called CTC.
While waiting for my turn in
the limelight, watching the midday show made me
feel even worse, as I didn't expect to witness such
blatant political propaganda for Fujimori. A local
congressional candidate for the Peru 2000
alliance was interviewed with family and friends,
who along with the host competed in praising el
chino and his politics.
Every ten minutes the Fujimori
campaign rock video was aired, and the show ended
with everyone in the studio dancing and singing
the Fujimori campaign song. Cut with scenes from
the rock video, it was quite a spectacle. Behind
the cameras, the station manager was clapping his
hands, urging the crew to develop a hypnotic climax
in praising the supreme leader.
This is not to say I would dislike
the political agenda of President Fujimori - I try
not to take sides - but I couldn't avoid seeing
how many of the charges concerning questionable
campaigning on the part of the government and government-controlled
media were true. The state is the biggest advertiser
in Peru, and by channelling ad revenue to favorable
stations, the government has firm control over most
major television stations and newspapers - in comparison
with them radio seems to fare relatively well.
Back to Radio San Miguel. After
the ordeal was over, I asked for a verification
for a few reports I had with me. It couldn't be
done right away, but confirmations would be brought
later to my hotel - so I was promised. Several phonecalls
during the following two days resulted in the same
response - but promises were just promises. And
I made the grave mistake of giving them a YLE cap...
Fucking Radio San Miguel
became my primitive reaction to all irritating situations
during the rest of the journey. Yea, I know, you
can't demand a QSL...
One of the main AM stations in
the capital Lima, Cadena Peruana de Noticias, or
CPN Radio for short, was actually not very different
from the above-mentioned pest. Operating on 1470
kHz, it is heard pretty often in Finland, but never
replies to reception reports. On March 23rd I once
again heard the station, with its overnight program
Haciendo la Noche, and sent another reception
I told CPN that I would be coming
over to Lima. CPN then eagerly tried to get a hold
of me, and so I had a bunch of messages waiting
for me when I got my election accreditation at the
International press center in Lima. It turned out
however that they were only interested in interviewing
me. Late one evening just before midnight I got
a surprise call to my hotel room, and immediately
I was taken live for ten minutes. Their mission
accomplished, I found it difficult to try to arrange
a visit to the station. Finally, on the day of my
departure, I had some spare time in Lima, and I
visited the station uninvited.
The station is not located at
the Paseo de la República address given by
the WRTH, but the Peruvian postal service still
forwards all mail to the correct address, which
is Calle General Salaverry No. 156, Miraflores,
I was asked to contact Zenaida
Solis, Directora de Programas, who kept me waiting
in an underground lobby, but did eventully write
me a confirmation letter, probably just to get rid
of me. I didn't even get to see her. Through a messenger
she told me that she was too busy to take a look
at the other ten reports I had brought along. I
was left with a promise of getting the confirmations
later by mail. After a couple of months, Winston
Montoya verified part of the reports by e-mail.
The national radio is of course
a prime example of a pro-government voice, operating
under the Ministry of Education, but aside from
that, the station gave a very professional image.
The oldest broadcaster in Peru (on air since 1925)
is based in a mansion-like building at Avenida Petit
Thouars 447, Santa Beatriz, Lima 1.
The WRTH information also on
this one is a bit outdated; at the moment the station
is not broadcasting on 6095 kHz, and does not intend
to return to shortwaves. Instead, the station is
planning to broadcast on the internet. Radio Nacional
has several AM and FM affiliates around Peru, in
Lima the AM frequency is 850 kHz. Station director
is nowadays Carlos Fuentes Chavez.
Fuentes was very friendly, and
was happy to write verifications for the three reception
reports I had brought along (for me, Markus Salonen
and Ilkka Suni). And you know who's wearing the
famous YLE cap - I got a Radio Nacional cap in return.
Another capital station, which
has no intention to return to its former shortwave
frequency of 6010 kHz. Nowadays transmissions are
24 hours a day, but only on FM 94.3 MHz and the
Internet at the Radio América website.
The station is located at Montero
Rosas 1099, Santa Beatriz, not far from the Radio
Nacional building. I got a confirmation for my ancient
1988 report, signed by Victor Tejada Zavaleta, Productor
General, who also verified a report for Ilkka Suni.
Mr. Tejada and Jorge Arriola Vivian, Jefe de Marketing
& Promociones, showed me around the station
and took me to the studio. Leaving another YLE cap
I walked out with a Radio America t-shirt...
Radio Santa Rosa
Unlike the other Lima stations
which I visited, this one is situated in the old
downtown. I made a brief surprise visit, as the
station happened to be located near the office of
the state ombudsman, whom I interviewed. In fact,
the station is located inside a monastery, Convento
Santo Domingo, at Jirón Camaná 170.
The alternative mail address is Casilla Postal 4451,
I picked up Radio Santa Rosa
on 1500 kHz just two days before going to Peru.
The station has been heard abroad often also on
(or actually slightly off) the shortwave frequency
of 6045 kHz. An employee took me to see Director,
Padre Juan Sokolich A., O.P., who signed a QSL card.
But a personal visit is really not necessary. The
station is known to verify promptly, and can be
contacted easily. The station has both a website
and an e-mail
Radio Santa Rosa was founded
in 1958, and on the occasion of their 40th anniversary
in 1998, a commemorative magazine, or more likely
a book, on the station was published, sponsored
by a couple of banks! About one third of the programming
is religious and another one third traditional cultural
Radio Santa Rosa is a good station
to begin DXing Peruvian radio stations. Not least
because you're likely to get a QSL in return - and
you don't need to take the Peruvian radio round
on April 22nd 2000, last update on April 24th 2002)