XERF was one of the legendary “Border Blasters” from Mexico. Whereas AM stations in the U.S. are limited to a maximum power output of 50,000 watts, Mexican stations have no such limitations. XERF was licensed at a whopping 250,000 watts! However, it is almost certain that by 1982, they were operating with far less than their license allowed. The vintage RCA transmitter was showing it’s age and was subject to frequent breakdowns.
This station was legendary in the 1960s and 70s. It was the station that launched Wolfman Jack to worldwide fame. ZZ Top’s “Heard it on the X” was written about XERF. But by 1982, the death knell was ringing for XERF and the other Border Blasters. FM stereo had taken over music radio in most markets, leaving little audience for static prone AM skywave signals that faded in and out.
“Night Flight” was prerecorded in Los Angeles. The tapes were then flown to Ciudad Acuna (directly across the border from Del Rio, Texas) for airplay the following evening. Prior to “Night Flight”, a similar program entitled “Texas Night Train” aired on the big 1570. Shortly after this broadcast, XERF went dark. It returned to the air several years later, but only at a fraction of it’s original power (15,000 watts), airing local programming in Spanish.
I received this from Apple Valley, Minnesota, using my beloved Pioneer SX-3900 receiver. In previous postings, I have written about the amazing FM selectivity and sensitivity of this receiver. The AM section was pretty damn good also. I coupled the coaxial cable of my CB antenna to act as my main AM receiving antenna. The CB antenna was a 5/8 wave vertical ground plane, 70 feet above ground level and fed with approximately 80 feet of coax. So, it functioned quite nicely for AM reception. In addition, I had several horizontal longwires in the backyard, spaced at various angles. One was aligned so that it’s side faced NNE/SSW. This meant it was “pointed” nearly perfectly at XERF. While “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” is playing, I switched antennas from the vertical omni to the longwire. You can hear the signal increase at the end of the song. By using the Pioneer/longwire combination, this station was local strength from over 1,000 miles away!