Text and photo: Santiago Romero Chang
Video: Cuscó Tarradel
The most recent research established the founding date of the analogical CMKC, March 23rd, 1930, and since then, a comedy play group provided fertile ground for innovation and imagination for radio broadcasts with evolutionary germs for the Latin American continent.
An essential name outstands: Felix Benjamin Caignet, without him, it is not possible to reconstruct the history of this radio station, nor of the radio in Cuba, nor in the American continent.
(San Luis, March 31, 1892 – Havana, May 25, 1976) contributed with music, painting and literature; most of his legacy reached great prominence in radio broadcasts, contributing part of his Cuban identity to each of his creations.
He was the creator of the radio soap opera and its detective, suspense and false suspense styles; he also outstood as composer of a classic piece of the Cuban musical repertoire, such as: Frutas del Caney, he also aired from the microphones of this radio station children’s narrative in Cuba and, possibly, in Latin America.
The writer, composer and musician Felix Benjamin Caignet, came to radio through CMKC, in his hometown in the early thirties, when he was already profiled as a prolific musical composer. His first program was called: Buenas Tardes Muchachitos, (Godd Afernoon, Children) with stories of his authorship.
With it he introduced the ingredient of children’s radio-comedy of continuity. He wrote and recited poems on the radio with black theme.
Then the first dramatic and detective serial in Latin America was released, which started the episodic radio show, when “Chan Li Po” was aired for the first time in 1934, with the title La Serpiente Roja (The Red Snake), starring Anibal de Mar. The radio narrator also appeared, Matías Vega Aguilera put his voice for that occasion.
Around CMKC there were several commercial transactions of purchase and sale, changes of owners, until the end of the 40s, when a stable management was consolidated.
A strong bastion in the history of the Santiago radio plant has undoubtedly been the informative work, to the point that it was also a pioneer in the installation of the teletype, favoring among its workers identification with the popular struggles through journalists, union leaders and workers who became spokesmen of the people’s opinion.
The ranks of the 26th of July revolutionary movement, in the last stage of the Cuban nation’s liberation struggles, were nourished by several workers of the radio station.
Already in the midst of the guerrilla struggle against the forces of Batista’s tyranny in the Sierra Maestra, the Commander in Chief Fidel Castro sent a letter to CMKC newscast in which he presented to the country an analysis of the prevailing political situation and the guidelines of the revolutionary struggle.
Late in 1958, the war of liberation carried out by the Rebel Army against the tyranny entered its final phase.
Upon hearing news of the tyrant’s escape, Commander in Chief Fidel Castro moved to Palma Soriano, where the Radio Rebelde equipment was located, and from there he called on the country’s radio stations to form a chain with the «7RR» to call for a general revolutionary strike.
From CMKC, announcer Noel Pérez Batista responded to Radio Rebelde’s call and began to rebroadcast the revolutionary station’s broadcasts.
Thus, when the forces of tyranny were still in the streets of Santiago, CMKC was the vehicle that broadcast Fidel’s orientations to the people.
Hours later, the Commander in Chief made his entrance to Santiago de Cuba at the head of Column 1 and arrived, after the victory, at the radio station located at 511 Aguilera Street. He settled in the offices of the newsroom and from there he kept informing about the situation in the country.