online book
Xavier Timoteo Martinez
Five Views: An Ethnic Historic Site Survey for California



Mexican War
World War II
Chicano Movement

Historic Sites
Selected References


A History of Mexican Americans in California:

KGST Radio Station
Fresno, Fresno County

KGST in Fresno was the first Spanish-language radio station in the San Joaquin Valley, and one of the earliest stations in California to provide Spanish-language programs all day, every day. Established in 1949, KGST remained an anomaly among California radio stations until the 1960s. Other stations either broadcast exclusively in English, or offered Spanish-language programming on what is known as a "sustaining time" basis, that is during time slots (usually early in the morning) refused by most advertisers because of the small listening audience.

San Diego did not have Spanish-language radio stations in the city for many years. The area's proximity to Mexico enabled United States advertisers to reach San Diego's Spanish-speaking audience by purchasing time on locally owned Mexican stations. In contrast, Fresno was an ideal location for establishment of a Spanish-language radio station. With a high concentration of Mexicans and Chicanos who could only tune in to Mexican stations at night when the airwaves were less crowded, Fresno and the surrounding areas offered a potentially large radio audience.

Founded by Juan Mercado, Station KGST was not only the first Spanish-language radio station in the valley, but one of the earliest Chicano-owned Spanish-language radio stations in California. Indeed, most Chicano-owned Spanish-language stations in the state did not appear until the 1960s. Although Mercado subsequently sold his station to an Anglo, KGST has continued to broadcast in Spanish and to hire Spanish-speaking personnel. The current General Manager is Benjamin Gutierrez, and the News Director is Estelleta Vasquez Romo, both of whom have been employed by the station since its inception in 1949.

Although the station, which is still at its original location, has been broadcasting only from 5:45 a.m. to 8:15 p.m. every day, including Sundays, the station's popularity and expanded audience now seems to justify a 24-hour broadcasting day. The programming, transmitted by 5000 watts of power, includes music, news, and religious services.

Spanish-language stations such as Fresno's KGST have played an important part in cultural maintenance among California's Chicano and Mexican inhabitants. News programs not only supply information to those who are not bilingual, but provide a more detailed analysis of events in Mexico and throughout Latin America than is available either on English-language stations or in English-language newspapers. And since more people listen to the radio than read the newspaper, regardless of whether the latter are in English or Spanish, Spanish language radio stations are a major source of information for many Californians. Locally, such stations offer traditional public service announcements, as well as information on the availability of jobs in the listening area, including the locations and types of work and the qualifications required. Music from Mexico, as well as that produced by Chicano groups in the United States, is popular and reinforce cultural pride in the Chicano and Mexican community. Finally, by providing employment and training for Spanish-speaking individuals, Spanish-language radio stations have helped to further the creation of a Chicano middle class and permit advancement in areas such as broadcasting that were formerly closed to Chicanos.

KGST Radio Station
KGST Radio Station, Fresno, Fresno County

NEXT> La Opinion

online book Top

Last Modified: Wed, Nov 17 2004 10:00:00 pm PDT

ParkNet Home