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Pro-China station broadcasting from Rosarito

Former Mighty 690 under FCC scrutiny

Scott Kaplan will originate his afternoon talk show from Solana Beach for the 1090 transmitter in Rosarito.
Scott Kaplan will originate his afternoon talk show from Solana Beach for the 1090 transmitter in Rosarito.

On Monday the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) told the operators of URadio 690 AM with its 77,000 watt powerhouse transmitter in Rosarito Beach, that it had 48 hours to get its application in order or it had to get off the air.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas applauded the move, saying the feds, with his support, are now starting to crack down on this pro-China radio station that beams its Mandarin language propaganda to the U.S. URadio 690 gets its audio feed from a company called Phoenix TV.

“Phoenix TV is a puppet of the Chinese Communist Party that broadcasts propaganda across the Unites States,” said Cruz in a statement. “I have long fought to expose and stop a scheme in which a Phoenix TV company was waging information warfare from a radio station across the border in Mexico.”

URadio 690's official call lettters are XEWW. Two years ago it flipped to an all-Chinese/Mandarin words-and-music format. Before that, as The Mighty 690, it featured English-speaking formats including oldies, beautiful music and Top 40. In the 60s it was the West Coast’s first all-news station. In the 80s, it was the Mighty 690, one of the first all sports stations in the west.

Chances are none of the Chinese voices you hear on URadio 690 have ever set foot in Mexico. According to a spokesman man for the FCC, URadio’s programming originates from a studio in Irwindale, and is sent via shortwave to the studios in Baja. XEWW is a Tijuana station and has little direct oversight by the FCC. The reason the FCC is involved is because of an agreement it oversees which allows a feed to be sent across the border via shortwave and then back to the U.S. via 690 AM.

In the June 22 declaration to fix it or quit, the FCC says that Phoenix Radio is not listed as part of the group that sends the 24/7 feed to the 690 studios in Baja. The FCC says Phoenix Radio is part of Phoenix TV which is a publicly-traded Hong Kong company that claims to be the largest Chinese-language television provider in North America transmitting to over 200,000 subscribers via DISH and Direct TV.

If the programming originated from studios in Baja and was not a cross-border “re-transmission” the FCC would not be involved in this technical demand for correction.

On Tuesday, June 23, the FCC spokesman would not say if Phoenix was cooperating. The spokesman declined to say if the Mexican counterpart to the FCC is involved.

Ray Fitch is an Washington D.C.-based attorney who specializes with FCC issues. He says this move is “clearly political,” and that it is interesting to note that there is an FM station in the D.C. area called Sputnik that broadcasts pro-Russia propaganda in English. “It has raised some hackles over the years but it is still on the air.”

No one questions the pro-China political bent of URadio 690. But the question is to many: does anyone in San Diego even care about this station that targets its all Mandarin programming to Los Angeles? URadio gives L.A. traffic reports.

One local veteran of radio sales who declined to be named says URadio 690 has had no local impact in its two years on 690.

The answer to URadio 690’s current FCC problem may be found with the technology that will be used by the other Baja-based “border blaster,” the 50,000-watt XEPRS 1090 AM. That all-sports station, formerly known as The Mighty 1090, went off the air a year ago when the San Diego-based operator, Broadcast Company of the Americas, couldn’t remain solvent. It is set to return to airwaves “…before the end of summer,” says new owner Bill Hagen.

Hagen says the new station, rebranded as “The Mightier 1090” will be anchored by long time sports talker Scott Kaplan, but that the other hosts will not necessarily be talking sports. He says Covid-19 has led him to rethink how radio stations will work going forward. Hagen says Kaplan, for instance, will originate his afternoon talk show from his home in Solana Beach, and that it will be “cloud delivered” directly to the 1090 transmitter in Rosarito. He says all the other hosts will also be originating their shows from remote locations and then sent to the Baja tower via the internet.

“Like with everything else, we’ve had to rethink how we do things,” says Hagen. “Look at Howard Stern. He’s now doing his show from his basement. The pandemic has taught us how be nimble. These are different times in radio. Everything has changed. It’s not the corporate radio world we’ve always known.”

One longtime radio veteran says that income from radio advertising countywide is off by almost 60 percent compared to the same period last year. “And all those people furloughed by iHeart, I doubt they’ll be coming back.”

Hagen says he is just about ready to unveil the lineup of the new Mightier 1090. “They are names that you know, that you have heard of. Let me just say that for now.”

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Scott Kaplan will originate his afternoon talk show from Solana Beach for the 1090 transmitter in Rosarito.
Scott Kaplan will originate his afternoon talk show from Solana Beach for the 1090 transmitter in Rosarito.

On Monday the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) told the operators of URadio 690 AM with its 77,000 watt powerhouse transmitter in Rosarito Beach, that it had 48 hours to get its application in order or it had to get off the air.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas applauded the move, saying the feds, with his support, are now starting to crack down on this pro-China radio station that beams its Mandarin language propaganda to the U.S. URadio 690 gets its audio feed from a company called Phoenix TV.

“Phoenix TV is a puppet of the Chinese Communist Party that broadcasts propaganda across the Unites States,” said Cruz in a statement. “I have long fought to expose and stop a scheme in which a Phoenix TV company was waging information warfare from a radio station across the border in Mexico.”

URadio 690's official call lettters are XEWW. Two years ago it flipped to an all-Chinese/Mandarin words-and-music format. Before that, as The Mighty 690, it featured English-speaking formats including oldies, beautiful music and Top 40. In the 60s it was the West Coast’s first all-news station. In the 80s, it was the Mighty 690, one of the first all sports stations in the west.

Chances are none of the Chinese voices you hear on URadio 690 have ever set foot in Mexico. According to a spokesman man for the FCC, URadio’s programming originates from a studio in Irwindale, and is sent via shortwave to the studios in Baja. XEWW is a Tijuana station and has little direct oversight by the FCC. The reason the FCC is involved is because of an agreement it oversees which allows a feed to be sent across the border via shortwave and then back to the U.S. via 690 AM.

In the June 22 declaration to fix it or quit, the FCC says that Phoenix Radio is not listed as part of the group that sends the 24/7 feed to the 690 studios in Baja. The FCC says Phoenix Radio is part of Phoenix TV which is a publicly-traded Hong Kong company that claims to be the largest Chinese-language television provider in North America transmitting to over 200,000 subscribers via DISH and Direct TV.

If the programming originated from studios in Baja and was not a cross-border “re-transmission” the FCC would not be involved in this technical demand for correction.

On Tuesday, June 23, the FCC spokesman would not say if Phoenix was cooperating. The spokesman declined to say if the Mexican counterpart to the FCC is involved.

Ray Fitch is an Washington D.C.-based attorney who specializes with FCC issues. He says this move is “clearly political,” and that it is interesting to note that there is an FM station in the D.C. area called Sputnik that broadcasts pro-Russia propaganda in English. “It has raised some hackles over the years but it is still on the air.”

No one questions the pro-China political bent of URadio 690. But the question is to many: does anyone in San Diego even care about this station that targets its all Mandarin programming to Los Angeles? URadio gives L.A. traffic reports.

One local veteran of radio sales who declined to be named says URadio 690 has had no local impact in its two years on 690.

The answer to URadio 690’s current FCC problem may be found with the technology that will be used by the other Baja-based “border blaster,” the 50,000-watt XEPRS 1090 AM. That all-sports station, formerly known as The Mighty 1090, went off the air a year ago when the San Diego-based operator, Broadcast Company of the Americas, couldn’t remain solvent. It is set to return to airwaves “…before the end of summer,” says new owner Bill Hagen.

Hagen says the new station, rebranded as “The Mightier 1090” will be anchored by long time sports talker Scott Kaplan, but that the other hosts will not necessarily be talking sports. He says Covid-19 has led him to rethink how radio stations will work going forward. Hagen says Kaplan, for instance, will originate his afternoon talk show from his home in Solana Beach, and that it will be “cloud delivered” directly to the 1090 transmitter in Rosarito. He says all the other hosts will also be originating their shows from remote locations and then sent to the Baja tower via the internet.

“Like with everything else, we’ve had to rethink how we do things,” says Hagen. “Look at Howard Stern. He’s now doing his show from his basement. The pandemic has taught us how be nimble. These are different times in radio. Everything has changed. It’s not the corporate radio world we’ve always known.”

One longtime radio veteran says that income from radio advertising countywide is off by almost 60 percent compared to the same period last year. “And all those people furloughed by iHeart, I doubt they’ll be coming back.”

Hagen says he is just about ready to unveil the lineup of the new Mightier 1090. “They are names that you know, that you have heard of. Let me just say that for now.”

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Comments
7

Scott Kaplan is an unintelligent, unrepentant sexist. Keeping him on the air is tantamount to keeping Det. Chauvin on the Minneapolis police force. Women listen to radio too.

June 25, 2020

It's really not quite the same thing. Kaplan can't put his knee on my throat for almost 9 straight minutes. I can just change the station at any time.

June 25, 2020

Ok, agreed, over the top analogy. still, whether I listen or not, a station that hires Scott Kaplan should be called out publicly. How about :Giving ScottK a sports talk show would be like Paula Dean a cooking show. is that fair enough?

June 26, 2020

Women might listen to Scott Kaplan or Howard Stern, but ladies don't. Neither one of them has ever hid the fact that their show is "locker room talk." I'm a huge sports fan, but sports talk radio is geared towards men. Not all men are fans of locker room talk, and not all sports talk radio hosts are like Kaplan.

June 25, 2020

Scott Kaplan shouldn't be allowed on the airwaves -- period. He's an equal opportunity offender. Kyle Kraska comes to mind. Sadly, there's enough classless men that will listen to him, regardless of his track record.

June 26, 2020

It's Friday and AM 690 is still on the air. Either the operators of AM 690 are ignoring the demand (and getting away with it) or they provided the FCC with the information on the other entity that helps provide programming. I just asked the FCC what's up and have yet to hear back. Please know that Scott Kaplan is not being hired by 1090 to go back on the air. According to Bill Hagen, Kaplan is a partner with him in the new, "Mightier 1090". So that means he can not be kicked off his own station. And while Kaplan may be a hack at times, he is a driven, compelling radio talent. When everyone else says AM is dead, he and Hagen are daring to prove everyone wrong. It reminds me of the Pirate Radio guys in the 60s who were so committed to the pop music of the day, that they rented a ship and started broadcasting in international waters. Kaplan can be both bitchy and rude. But in this era of vanilla smooth-talkers, he stands out. I mean can anyone tell me what exactly is the point of Darren Smith?

June 26, 2020

No one expects him to be Mister Rogers. Professional talent aside, you have to maintain a certain level of decency, and he's not a decent human being. This isn't breaking news.

June 26, 2020

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