AM Radio Booming In Puerto Rico


The Columbia Journalism Review has a lengthy piece about how AM radio is making a big comeback in Puerto Rico following a devastating 2017 hurricane. The article focused on several stations that stayed on the air, including WKJB 710 AM, providing vital information to local residents. “The station’s managers had learned a lesson about disaster preparedness in 1998, when Hurricane Georges blew down their radio antenna and cut off the power. Since then, staff had equipped the station with a backup power generator and a reinforced antenna that could withstand hurricane-force winds.”

The article points out that, in San Juan, WKAQ-AM also stayed on the air, other than a short period when wind ripped off the station’s roof. The article says, according to The Miami Herald, the increased listenership resulted in an advertising boom. “At Wapa Radio, an AM station based in San Juan, advertising went up by 300 percent the month following Maria. At Radio Isla, an AM station also broadcasting in San Juan, commercial breaks doubled in length from four to eight minutes.”

Back at WKJB, the station was being run by a motley crew of volunteer DJs, according to the article. “They called themselves ‘The Night Crew’ and their improvised program was equal parts news program, variety show, and music channel. The DJs even took call-ins from listeners whose landline telephones still worked despite the power outage. Since the night of Hurricane Maria, The Night Crew has aired every night, raising the volunteer DJs to the status of folk heroes in Mayagüez.”

Read the full article HERE.


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