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Ciudad Acu?a, Wolfman Jack and Japanese Spies! Oh My!

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Offline RichardM

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Ciudad Acu?a, Wolfman Jack and Japanese Spies! Oh My!
« on: March 08, 2007, 09:36:28 PM »
The following is what I was able to salvage of a classic Off-Topic thread that got deleted during the reorg.  Muchas Gracias to Google for caching it for me. :)

Moderator note: this topic was spun off of BigBendHiker's trip report.

Quote from: BigBendHiker
I added a couple of the pictures from our trip to Acuna to the MSN photo album this morning...

Years ago, it was called Mrs. Crosby's (in fact, down the side street off of Hidalgo (to go to the parking behind Crosby's), the sign still says "Mrs. Crosby's.

Another bit of trivia....Wolfman Jack broadcast worldwide from the 250,000 watt XERF AM radio station in Acu?a during his heyday. I don't know if there is anything left of the station or not, but it would certainly be something interesting to see...

Quote from: homerboy2u2
Yes that radio station is still operating good and strong in Acu?a, although since it was using 250,00 watts of power, it was over shadowing many radio stations in both sides of the border, so they had to lower down their juice and theyr right now in the 20-30,000 watss. A normal transmit rate. Although their studio was located in Del Rio in the 40's-60's(now closed).

Did you all know that , that radio station in specific was a "secret" weapon during the second world war  . It was used to send out " covert messages " to the merchant marine in the pacific, and since it had the juice to be heard all over the world they also sent some kind of codes to the French resistance and some other subversive organization during that time. All this info is in the Whitehead Museum in Del Rio,where i recommended you to visit.

Crosby's really rocks. That's one of my favorite restaurants , when i visit Acu?a.

Glad you had a wonderfull time, sorry i didn't advice you of the long weekend lines between Acu?a & Del Rio.
Quote from: BigBendHiker
I did not realize XERF was used to broadcast worldwide. But, with 250K watts, it would have been able to punch a signal through anywhere, anytime.

We had plans to go to the Whitehead, but opted to spend our time on Friday afternoon in Acuna which I am glad we did. We got to walk through the town, spent some time at the town square, watching the pigeons and just taking it easy. Will need to be sure to visit that museum next year.

And, even though it took a little while to get across, it was of no concern or problem. Actually, gave us time to reflect back on our great trip and visit to Acuna. We are definitely staying over in Acuna again next year for sure and recommend that anyone who is looking for a good rest stop on the way to Big Bend to do the same!
Quote from: homerboy2u2
Well actually during the II World War, the Radio Station raised its power to a full 1,000,000 watts . To use it as a Secret Weapon. I don't think this should be categorize as a "weapon", but who am i to argue with the Military,right  . All this is documented in detail in the Whitehead museum in Del Rio,tx.

You know  , I have a story to share about this:

When the war started,the U.S. and Mexican Gvts. did some kind of negotiation of some sort to use this , now powerfull radio station to relay messages to the French resistance,some other subversive war organizations and later to re-direct subversive military messages to the pacific.

During the 1940's, of course with WWII in full gallop, ther was this Japenese doctor, a dentist, who came to Acu?a settle down and married for a time my friend's Grandmother: Cesar. He, BTW, is not related to this Jap Dentist byt the name: DITARO YOSITAKE.

This dentist picked up the language very quickly,married for a time this girl from Acu?a and opened a drugstore: Farmacia Japonesa.

This doctor was very friendly and managed to get in to very high political circles in Acu?a,not very sure if the same applied for Del Rio, i think he would inmediatelly be considered as suspected spie,so to speak.

Well he had his drugstore,but in his basement he had his secret radio relay station reporting everything he saw from this mighty radio station.

At the time, the Amistad Dam was not yet built. This came much later after a massive flooding that affected the vecinities in the 50's. So there wasn't much to guard,all there was small hills and canyons.

One day,nearing the end of the war. This doctor just dissapeared,it is suspected that he fled to Japan.Never leaving a letter to his then wife. She went on with the business,remarried and further down the road came my friend Cesar (her grandson). But the name of the Pharmacy stuck.

Just this past year,my friend started to remodel the business and when it came time to destroy the old wooden floor he hit the door that was sealed with portland cement,cracked it open and inside there was all this yellowish old japanese papers, carabins and guns but most important this very old,destroyed trasmitter/reciever radio.

My friend , the jackass, had the contractors with him, all the workers there and ordered to seal back the basement and went on with the work. I will never forgive him for doing that. Now , there is this big concrete slab on top of the this door and on top of it, this new tile floor. I can't believe what i am telling you friends as i type it. But is true.

I bet you, there aren't many people who know of this story around here and most interesting,very near from where you stayed over, BBH.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2010, 04:24:34 PM by RichardM »

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Offline RichardM

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Ciudad Acu?a, Wolfman Jack and Japanese Spies! Oh My!
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2007, 09:37:27 PM »
Quote from: "Joe"
Wow! That's a great story, Homero. Too bad your friend was in such a hurry...

Here's another story about radio stations in Acuna:

In 1931 Dr. John Brinkley received a license from Mexican officials to build a powerful transmitter at Villa Acu?a, Mexico, across the river from Del Rio, Texas, and do business as the Villa Acu?a Broadcasting Company.

XER, "Sunshine Station between the Nations," broadcast on AM at 735 kcs. It first signed on August 18, 1932 with a 50,000 Watt transmitter and claimed 75,000 Watts via an omindirectional antenna.

In 1933 he moved his entire medical staff and facilities from Kansas to the Roswell Hotel in Del Rio. He used his station, XER, to entice his listeners to visit his clinic or buy an array of gimmicks, among them ampules of colored water, at a price of six for $100.

In Texas he rarely performed his controversial "goat gland operation," designed to restore male virility and fertility by the implantation of goat glands, but substituted what he described as "commercial glandular preparations."

He also performed numerous prostate operations and instituted the use of Mercurochrome shots and pills to help restore youthful vigor. Estimates are that he earned $12 million between 1933 and 1938. During this period his conspicuous display of wealth–a lavish mansion, expensive cars, planes, yachts, and diamonds–was second to none. I believe you can still see his mansion in Del Rio.

XER was shut down by the Mexican authorities on February 24, 1933 and the Villa Acu?a Broadcasting Company was dissolved.

Mexico had long protested interference from US AM stations at night, demanding that the FCC create several clear channels all the way up to Canada. Nothing had ever come of this. Now, in 1935, Mexico would return the fire.

In September 1935, Dr. Brinkley gained a new license for Villa Acu?a from the Government of Mexico with new call letters of XERA. His new operating company was Cia Mexicana Radiofusori Fronteriza and the station came on the air from the same location as the old XER but with a directional antenna.

His new transmitter power was 500,000 Watts, but with his new antenna he claimed an output of 1 megawatt. XERA called itself "the world's most powerful broadcasting station," and Variety magazine claimed that it could be heard in New York City.

In 1938 he moved his medical activities to Little Rock, Arkansas, but maintained his residence in Texas. About that time he lost a libel suit, fought numerous malpractice suits, and battled the Internal Revenue Service over back taxes.

Brinkley veered off into Nazi politics. He became a Hitler sympathizer, dropping the good-doctor act for a different kind of mass psychology.

The US government had put up with goat glands, but those didn't sabotage FDR's efforts to swing pre-war, public opinion over to the Allies. This was way more serious stuff. It did Brinkley in.

First came the Brinkley Act, still vigorously enforced today, banning any cross-border studio-transmitter links originating in the US, including Brinkley's phone lines. From this point on, border blasters had do do it all from their side.

Then, in 1940, the FCC gave in and granted Mexico the clear channels, in exchange for a border cleanup. Treaties were signed and Mexico siezed XERA and closed it down. (Another station has the call letters now).

In 1941 Brinkley was forced to file for bankruptcy. The following year circulatory problems led to the amputation of one of his legs, and on May 26, 1942, John Brinkley died in San Antonio of heart failure.

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Offline RichardM

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Ciudad Acu?a, Wolfman Jack and Japanese Spies! Oh My!
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2007, 09:38:26 PM »
Quote from: "Joe"
I found the following story about Wolfman Jack on the internet. I don't know if the facts are right, but it makes a great story:

The war might have killed Brinkley, but it didn't kill XERA. The border powerhouse quickly reappeared in the 1940s as XERF, 1570 kHz, and still all in English. The station was supposedly down to "only" 250,000 Watts, omnidirectional, on one of the Mexican clear channels it had helped create. There were, however, regular rumors that sometimes, in the dead of night, when the electric bill was paid up, the engineers couldn't resist cranking the thing un poquito mas, permanently fading the paint on every south wall clear to Alberta.

For all its wattage, XERF was kind of a nowhere station. It tried the same time-brokered format of Texas radio preachers, yee-hah bands, chatty DJs, and quack cures, but without Brinkley to pull it off. It lost money. The owner was forever in and out of legal trouble.

Fortunately, Ciudad Acu?a still drew larger-than-life figures to its larger-than-life radio. The next one to happen along was Bob Smith, a skinny white kid from a tough section of Brooklyn, who had drifted from one southern US station to the next, learning his DJ gig the tough way.

He had one major career problem - he insisted on playing the real, urban blues, the cynically named "race records" by the original black artists. White boys just didn't do that in the late 50s and early 60s - they played the vapid cover versions aimed at nice Caucasian folks. In Virginia, it is said, the Klan burned a cross on his lawn.

This skinny white kid with the black voice who could reach Canada without a transmitter was Wolfman Jack, the legendary radio figure who stoked a generation on the blues, and pretty much invented the sixties.

Yes, he's the guy George Lucas put in the movie. Better Lucas should have told the real story though. The Wolfman did not hang out in some hayburner sucking Popsicles. The Wolfman did not play anything as sissy as the Del-Vikings. The one thing he did do was "blast that thing clear around the world," as the dorky actor said.

The Wolfman showed up at XERF during a strike. He wound up more or less running the place. XERF's media karma was at work. Magic was alive. The owner had defaulted, repeatedly, on payroll and taxes, and Mexico was getting ready to sieze the station again. Somehow, though, Wolfman and others raised the money to keep the border blaster on the air. They played music people wanted to hear, all the time selling all manner of dubious products on-mike.

Wolfman lived in Del Rio and commuted over the border, his Cadillac filled with recordings and $100 bills. With no consultants, no rating books, no focus groups, no audience research, no tests, no wired-up teenagers holding red and green buttons, he re-invented night time radio. If you were halfway hip in the sixties, you knew where to listen. That's all.

There was one problem. Nobody was quite sure who owned the station. Nasty letters were written, death threats were exchanged, and XERF started fitting out a private corps of security guards. The station stocked up on some gear not normally seen at a broadcast site, such as automatic weapons and plenty of ammo. The once beautiful transmitter building, already minus most of its original detailing, became even more like a fort.

Wolfman Jack liked to tell a story about what happened next. Now, everyone agrees that there was a real, border shootout, just like in the movies, the DJ diving for cover, bullets flying every which way. Wolfman, of course, always said he was there, having heard pistol shots on the air, and broken the speed record down from Del Rio in his Caddy. Others say he probably wasn't there, but that the gun battle definitely happened, followed by lots of cops poking around, lots of investigations and legal complications. No matter how you want to tell the story, it was not the Wolfman's best year.

Wolfman moved on to another border blaster in a marsh by the Tijuana River, with a dead shot up to Los Angeles, and yet another emisadora muy grande. This was XERB, Rosarito Beach, BC. XERB's signal could hold its own with such L.A. giants as KFI and KNX, and certainly had no trouble whatever shooting up the Central Valley as depicted by George Lucas. It was perfect setup for the Wolfman. Now the mystery man with the huge voice and the good music could own California at night, and inspire everyone. The rest is history, and more than one great movie.

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Offline Casa Grande

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Ciudad Acu?a, Wolfman Jack and Japanese Spies! Oh My!
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2007, 09:39:24 PM »
wow! that's some slick investigative work there, Richard......good save

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Offline RichardM

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Ciudad Acu?a, Wolfman Jack and Japanese Spies! Oh My!
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2007, 09:40:10 PM »
Quote from: "homerboy2u2"
Quote from: "RichardM"
Wow, fascinating history lessons, guys! I bet the guy who sealed up the basement was afraid his store would be torn apart and he'd lose too much business. Darn shame.
Your right Richard, but still ALL that history that was enclosed for a good long time.

As far as Joe's story goes. Yes,i remember now all that hoopla registered in the Whitehead Museum now. In my own opinion, eventhough the stories sounds so far fletched,they are all true. This,then,very powerfull radio station was running under alot of mistery.

This is the link to thi the Museum in Del Rio:
http://www.whitehead-museum.com/

I'm sure if some one expresses interest can contact the center for additional information, or better yet. When coming down to BiBe, try and make a detour to visit Cd.Acu?a and the Whitehead Museum.

Terrific story Joe..........WOW. This has turned in to a terrific farther's day sitdown with you all. Very interesting indeed.

Quote from: "homerboy2u2"
Quote from: "cjacob"
I used to drive by the XERF station everyday on my way home from Work In Acu?a. Its out by the Firestone/Ford Test Track. You can see the track and the station in maps.google.com Pretty cool. If I knew how to get an updated like to the site I would post it. But I have to use my old address and click and drag over it.

The State of Coah. has tons of cool stuff its just knowing who and how to find all of it. The Rock art of the trans pecos area is nice. There is nicer art work in Mexico just have to find the right guy to go see it... I would have to say Homero is on the inn...

Places to check out also in Cd. Acu?a,

La Pa Lapa Great food
Cesar's Patio More Great food used to be in his back yard.
I could name many more but its been 10 years since I left working in Mexico, but I still can find them.
I have to agree with CJ on this, there are a lot of cool rock art in Coahuila,but it is in private land and hard to get to. However, that does NOT pose a problem for the club. We can always get the name of the ranch owner,contact him get a permission to enter his/her premisses and register the Rock Art. How ever , If you know of a site worth the while visiting,please let me know and see if we can get a Google map location of the site and will go after it.

As far as the XERF, you are right. I pass by everytime i go fishing to the Amistad Dam . It is on the left side of the road, but as Joe had mentioned it before. I don?t think is the same radio station as before,or at least NOT as powerful as it used to be.

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Offline RichardM

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Ciudad Acu?a, Wolfman Jack and Japanese Spies! Oh My!
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2007, 09:45:19 PM »
Quote from: "Casa Grande"
wow! that's some slick investigative work there, Richard......good save

Google would only give me the first page, but that's where most of the good stuff was.  Glad they came through, as the Internet Archive Wayback Machine let me down.

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Offline homerboy2u

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Ciudad Acu?a, Wolfman Jack and Japanese Spies! Oh My!
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2007, 12:45:14 AM »
Hahaha...You found it :!: ..man, " Me quito el sombrero contigo  " (hope you don't need to Google this) =D>

 Very good Richard, you did very well \:D/
Stay thirsty, my friends.

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Offline RichardM

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Ciudad Acu?a, Wolfman Jack and Japanese Spies! Oh My!
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2007, 09:13:11 AM »
Quote from: "homerboy2u2"
" Me quito el sombrero contigo  " (hope you don't need to Google this)

You must be confusing me with someone who actually speaks Spanish. :oops: Google says that translates to "I clear the hat to me with you".  I'll assume you meant "I tip my hat to you" ("Inclino mi sombrero a ti") or the equivalent.

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Offline homerboy2u

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Ciudad Acu?a, Wolfman Jack and Japanese Spies! Oh My!
« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2007, 09:38:21 AM »
Google doesn?t always do it?s job, right. That phrase was an easy one. Regards.
Stay thirsty, my friends.

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« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2007, 10:17:21 AM »
Quote from: "homerboy2u2"
That phrase was an easy one. Regards.


Easy?  No bueno.  Unfortunately, I failed Spanish twice long ago in highschool.  Fortunately, back then, before TAKS, language requirements, etc, they still let me graduate - otherwise I'd probably still be in highschool  :shock:  funny, I can learn a foreign language like COBOL, RPG/LE, C++, assembler language, FORTRAN, HTML, Cold Fusion, JAVA, etc. w/o any problem.

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Offline presidio

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Ciudad Acu?a, Wolfman Jack and Japanese Spies! Oh My!
« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2007, 11:13:05 AM »
Quote from: "RichardM"
Quote from: "homerboy2u2"
" Me quito el sombrero contigo  " (hope you don't need to Google this)

You must be confusing me with someone who actually speaks Spanish. :oops: Google says that translates to "I clear the hat to me with you".  I'll assume you meant "I tip my hat to you" ("Inclino mi sombrero a ti") or the equivalent.


Probably more colloquially....'My hat is off to you'.
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<  presidio  >
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Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Offline Roy

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Ciudad Acu?a, Wolfman Jack and Japanese Spies! Oh My!
« Reply #11 on: March 26, 2007, 10:19:30 PM »
Was watching PBS program about the Carter Family;  they were apperently featured at XERA in it's prime.  A little Googling found this site;  pic of the original station about half way down.  Looks like quite a set up.

http://www.ominous-valve.com/xerf.html

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Offline homerboy2u

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Ciudad Acu?a, Wolfman Jack and Japanese Spies! Oh My!
« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2007, 11:19:02 PM »
That is one cool story Roy...here is a link to the radio Brinkley's KFKB
Stay thirsty, my friends.

 


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