of this site is to provide an accurate information source about the
pioneers of Spanish language radio and television in the United States.
The History of Spanish language radio and television began with an immigrant
named Raoul A. Cortez, my Grandfather. Papa Yayo, as I affectionately
called him, was a real American Entrepreneur! He came to this country
with his Mother, Father and
eight brothers and sisters. As a young man, my Grandfather sold eggs
on the streets of Nuevo Laredo in order to earn money to buy airtime
on local radio stations. He would then produce a variety hour in which
he sold advertising and thus began building his business.
When he moved
to San Antonio, he took odd jobs dressing windows for Penner’s
mens store in San Antonio, reporting
for La Prensa or as a sales representative for The Pearl Brewing Company,
all in order to earn money to buy air time on local radio station KMAC
and produce his own Spanish language variety hour and sell the advertising
time for his shows.
He began a theatrical agency that introduced many top Mexican and Latin
American stars to the United States.
He produced big variety shows for the predominantly Mexican American
population of San Antonio and South Texas.
As his shows on English language radio stations grew in popularity, Mr.
Cortez realized the great potential a full time Spanish language radio
station would have in San Antonio. He applied to the Federal Communications
Commission for his own radio license and in 1946 put KCOR-AM on the air.
It was an immediate success and with that success his commitment to the
San Antonio Hispanic community grew.
He became very involved with the League of United Latin American Citizens
or (LULAC) by becoming its National President twice. He was an early
foe of the bigotry that existed in the United States towards Hispanics.
He joined Congressman Gus Garcia in the fight and he used his position
with LULAC to travel to Mexico to hold talks with President Miguel Aleman
and then onto Washington D.C. to speak with President Harry S. Truman.
He discussed the plight of the Mexican illegal alien in the United States.
He was credited with improvements between the two governments and for
the illegal alien.
Meanwhile, Cortez was building a national radio network called The
Sombrero network that helped to improve radio broadcasts and promote
the stations. He continued to bring big Mexican stars like Jorge Negrete
and Maria Griever to new show palaces built for the Hispanic community
like the Alameda theatre in San Antonio.
In 1955, Mr. Cortez launched the first full time Spanish language television
station in the United States as well as the first UHF channel in San
Antonio, Texas. He built a state of the art television station with a
large studio for the production of local shows and a local newscast to
serve the San Antonio community. The new building also housed KCOR radio
1350 on the dial.
After several years of losing money on KCOR-TV channel 41, Mr. Cortez
sold the station to a group of investors including Don Emilio Azcarraga
Vidaureta, Emilio Nicolas, Sr., Frank Fouce Sr., Rene Anselmo, and Julie
Kaufman. Emilio Nicolas, Sr. became the General Manager of the station,
renamed it KWEX in honor of Don Emilio’s XEW radio station in Mexico
City, the first radio station to reach all of Latin America and began
working hard to turn the business around. This was a colossal effort
because not only was Television in general new, but to have a Spanish
language station was alien to the predominately English speaking country.
The first thing Emilio Nicolas and Rene Anselmo had to do was go to Washington
to lobby Congress to force Television manufacturers to sell the converters
and the antennas for receiving UHF channels on the sets. Then, after
achieving that goal, Nicolas had to head back to San Antonio to increase
viewership in order to convince advertisers that there was a market watching
and wanting to buy their products. Nicolas persevered and after seven
long years of losing money he turned the corner and started making money.
In 1963 Anselmo was dispatched to New York City by Don Emilio to manage
SIN (Spanish International Network). In those days SIN was the representative
for national sales for the newly renamed channel 41, now KWEX and for
KMEX in Los Angeles managed by Burt Avedon. Also in 1963, the Miami television
station was purchased and went on the air as WLTV-Miami channel 23. The
company was so small and funds were so tight that Anselmo and Nicolas
recruited their wives Mary Anselmo and Irma Nicolas to clean the studio,
set up the table that would serve as the anchor desk, all in preparation
for the first live news telecast from the studios of channel 23, Miami.
Those were nerve racking times for Anselmo and Nicolas, but they were
also very exciting times. These two men were part of something groundbreaking
and the country did not know what was to come from this very unique and
In the late 1960’s Mr. Cortez sold KCOR radio to New York investors.
Mr. Cortez sold the station for the highest price ever paid for a radio
property in San Antonio at that time in English or Spanish. He accomplished
this because of his tremendous billing. He was a real salesman and entrepreneur
and rather than sit in San Antonio looking for advertising dollars that
looked like crumbs, he went to New York. There, Cortez met with the advertising
executives, he then wined and dined them and proceeded to convince them
their advertisers needed KCOR and the audience it could deliver.
In 1972 Trans-Tel, the owner of New York’s WXTV, channel 41, merged
with SICC (Spanish International Communications Corporation), the parent
company of the San Antonio, Los Angeles and Miami stations. Now, SICC
had stations in four major market cities and SIN was beginning to look
like it could be a network as it now not only represented the stations
in national sales, but it was also now the programming arm for the stations.