On December 3, 1922, at 8:00 pm, the first radio broadcast on the island was produced by the then new station WKAQ, which was in charge of the Puerto Rican Joaquín Agusty. From that moment on, the radio became a key element in the history of Puerto Rico, managing to constantly entertain and inform for the past 100 years.
With the purpose of publicizing the history of this means of communication on the island, as well as paying tribute to the pioneers on the island, the non-profit corporation One Hundred Years of Radio in Puerto Rico 1922-2022by the filmmaker Luis Molina Casanovaopen the free exhibition “This is my radio… 100 years of history in Puerto Rico” on the third floor of the Ballajá Barracks in Old San Juan starting today, Wednesday, April 13. This exhibit will be open until the end of December.
Visitors will enjoy an audiovisual tour where they will be able to appreciate a sample of the evolution of radio over time, from its technical development to its influence on Puerto Rican society. The exhibition includes two sections or wings, one dedicated to Agusty, WKAQ’s first administrator in 1922, and another dedicated to the Puerto Rican businessman and communicator Ángel Ramos. In addition, the public will appreciate equipment and other memorabilia of high value in the history of radio.
The educational and historical part of this project was in charge of the Department of Communication of the University of Puerto Rico in Humacao (UPRH). For some time, Molina Casanova had been in contact with Dr. Héctor R. Piñero Cádiz, director of the department, to ensure that the educational part was as faithful as possible.
“The UPR in Humacao has joined forces with various sectors of the industry to commemorate this event that marked a milestone in the technological history of the country. Both faculty and students of the Department of Communication of our institution have been collaborating in the staging of this great celebration”, explained Dr. Aida I. Rodríguez Roig. “We are all part of the history of communications through radio. We are committed to continuing to promote our mission and social responsibility through initiatives that transcend beyond the classroom and insert ourselves more and more into the events of the country.”
Joaquin Agusty exhibition
An important part of the exhibit is the original WKAQ equipment and transmitters that were owned by Agusty and kept by his widow in Mayagüez. As explained by Piñero Cádiz, around the 1990s, Molina Casanova approached Agusty’s widow to acquire the equipment, since she was interested in donating it to the Smithsonian Institute in the United States. Finally, the woman agreed to sell them to the filmmaker, but on the condition that, at the time of celebrating the 100 years of the radio, she would be honored and the deed of whoever her husband would be remembered. Deceased many years ago, the Mayagüez native was never able to see the radio exhibition, but Molina Casanova wanted to fulfill her promise, the main reason why she founded the One Hundred Years of Radio in Puerto Rico 1922-2022 corporation.
Along with the exhibition, in the coming months there will be a number of special activities, such as the recreation of radio soap operas, as they were done before in the 1940s and 1950s, there will be talks on the subject and initiatives will be carried out in which will highlight the contributions and relevance of this medium. More details about them will be given in the coming months.
Importance of knowing the history of radio
Finally, the university professor emphasized the importance that the new generations of Puerto Ricans know the work and the evolution of this means of communication in the past hundred years. “It is important that young people and new generations understand, understand and recognize the value of radio, especially for the value it has to educate, inform and entertain”, Piñero Cadiz added. “The importance of radio remains the same in technological terms, it is the same concept as it was a hundred years ago and it is still very important, especially in times of emergencies.”