"Take up arms without fear, let's take as our example the Cuban people . . . with Castro as a guide . . . If blood flows, it will be necessary. Forward always revolutionaries!"
The text reads like an excerpt from a Latin American revolutionary's handbook. In fact, it is part of a Spanish-language song broadcast recently over WPFW 90.9 FM, one of only three Washington-area radio stations now transmitting in Spanish.
From the three stations, the areas 150,000 to 250,000 Hispanos get a total of just 12 hours weekly of Spanish-language broadcasting. This has been the case since WFAN, nicknamed Radio Latina, was forced off the air in April 1978 in a frequency dispute involving its operator. United Broadcasting Corporation.
United Broadcasting tried initially to keep alive at least part of WFAN's 18-hours daily programming of Spanish -language news, music and community announcements by purchasing time on WEAM 1390 AM.
Former WFAM employes were taken along to handle the programming, and WEAM began transmitting in Spanish for seven hours daily -- from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. -- in May 1978.
The experiment was not a success. The Hispanic community proved unable to accept the switch to a late-night format. WEAM was broadcasting at almost exactly the time that WFAN had been off the air.
"When we canceled the arrangement in November 1978," explained Stan Karas, who became WEAM general manager in October 1978, "we only received one letter of protest."
In recent telephone survey of area radio stations, 34 AM stations said they "did not have and had never had" any Spanish-language programming. Most said they "were willing to" or "ocasionally do" broadcast Spanish-language public service announcements.
Four stations, including WEAM, said they had "had in past but did not currently have" some Spanish-language programming. None of the four had plans to revive such programming, and all cited alleged lack of community interest as the reason for cancellation.
Three area radio stations -- WGTS, WHUR and WPFW -- now provide the only outlets for Spanish-language broadcasting in Washington.
Howard University's WHUR 96.3 FM is the area's veteran in such programming, but now offers just two hours a week on Saturday afternoons: a bilingual, mostly music show called "Latin Flavor." Hosted by Hector Carporan from the Dominican Republic, the popular Latin-beat music and bilingual format has earned the show a healthy seventh place in area ratings for its time slot.
The major remaining link for the area's Hispanic community is the non-commercial WGTS 91.5 FM. Spanish-language programming began there in September 1978 with show called "Survival English that explained how to handle basic sitations such as going to a bank or applying for a job.
The popular "Survival English" expanded and in April 1979 became the current "Hora Latina" (Latin Hour), an all-Spanish, 60-minute show broadcast from 8 to 9 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays. WGTS also offers the two-hour "Jueves LATINO" (Latin Thursday) program.
"Hora Latina" host Alberto Gomez, a Colombian lawyer who works for Housing Counseling Services Inc., struggles to make the most of the program's magazine format.
"I've tried to get together a group of people who have experience in a lot of different fields," said Gomez, explaining how the all-volunteer program is put together. "On Mondays, for example, we have music, interviews and sports. On Tuesdays, we have a program about music and books handled by someone who works in the D.C. public library system.Then on Wednesdays, we have a lawyer who talks about immigration news and answers questions. I myself give advice about housing. Wednesday is call-in night." q
WGTS program director Carol Wilson describes audience response to the show as "extremely healthy."
On down the dial at 90.9 FM, the 3-year-old noncommercial WPFW alternative radio station also attempts to keep Hispanos in touch. From a completely different point of view.
WPFW is part of the Pacifica Foundation, "an alternative radio station started 30 years ago in California," said Cheikh Soumare, a Senegalese who in January became WPFW's program director and one of its three full-time employes.
Each Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m., WPFW offers a policitally oriented, magazine-format show called "Macilon." The program is produced by a 13-person collective that wishes only to be identified and interviewed as a group.
The make-up of the Macilon collective fluctuates, but currently has six women and seven men including representatives of the Mexican-American community as well as members from Chile, El Salvador, Jamaica, Peru and Uruguay.
A typical Sunday program recently included interviews, songs and dramatic readings concerning the political situation in Mexico. Other Latin American countries have also been spotlighted.
A spokesman for the collective, who asked not to be identified, said: "What people are really interested in (is) calling in . . . We get calls all the time from people asking about records or commenting on things we have said on the air.
"Of course, we also get people calling up to say 'Well, you're just a bunch of communists,' but we expect that."
Most members of Washington's Hispanic community feel it is imperative to get in all-Spanish station back on the air. In the frequency dispute, United Broadcasting effectively killed WFAN by switching its other station, WOOK at 1340 AM, over to WFAN's 100.3 FM frequency when cancellation of the AM license loomed. After that happened, a group of concerned citizens representing 30 Hispanic organizations set up the Washington Metropolitan Coalition Pro-Radio Latina.
From the coalition emerged Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation, a concern founded by seven prominent Washington-area Hispanos.
On Sept. 1 of last year, Hispanic Broadcasting presented to the Federal Communications Commission a construction permit request to create a new station on the 100.3 FM frequency now occupied by WOOK. A similar request has been filed by another group not oriented toward the Hispanic community, and United Broadcasting has also filed to retain control of the frequency.
Almost a year and a half after the original application was filed, the FCC still has not issued a ruling, and no date one is in sight.
"For the present, we are just an on-paper operation," said Angel Roublin, a Spanish-born, naturalized U.S. citizen who is chairman of the board of Hispanic Broadcasting. "All we have now are expenses, and they may run to $100,000."
Another Washington-based group, the National Alliance of spanish-speaking People for Equility, Inc., thinks it has found a better -- or, at least, a quicker -- solution to the frequency dilemma.
Miguel Sandoval, Cuban-born president of the National Alliance, filed papers on Jan. 9 with the FCC requesting subcarrier authority to construct a Spanish-language educational radio station.
Subcarrier authority allows broadcasting on subfrequencies that are neither AM nor FM. Special radio receivers are needed to listen to the broadcasts but they are not expensive, said Sandoval, and subcarrier authority is easier than an AM or FM frequency.
"This is a good alternative to the shortage of AM and FM frequencies in Washington," said Sandoval. "If our plans work out, we hope to start broadcasting later this year."