Who wants to listen to that anymore? My father who is 72 doesn't even listen to that garbage, as he prefers to move on and progress, not stay in the same spot!
By Francisco Alvarado
By Trevor Bach
By Chris Joseph
By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Keegan Hamilton and Francisco Alvarado
By Jake Rossen
By Allie Conti
The aging lefty activist is not the only radio voice who's turned to the internet as Spanish radio becomes increasingly moderate and professional. Firebrands from both sides of the debate over Castro have turned to the web in recent years in search of their lost listeners.
Take for instance activist Dionisio de la Torre, who posts interviews to YouTube that he conducts with other anti-Castro experts and former political prisoners from the living room of his spacious two-story home in West Miami-Dade. He also burns CDs of his one-on-one interviews that he mails to dissidents back on the island.
Even online crusaders such as de la Torre and Lesnik admit that without outlets like La Poderosa keeping the flames of El Exilio sentiment hot, Miami's political scene wouldn't be the same.
"What is going to happen when the people of Radio Mambí retire or pass away?" de la Torre asks. "Will it continue the same way? I don't think so. The market has changed too much."
Rodríguez, at least, remains a true believer. There will always be a place for right-wing Cuban radio in the Magic City, he says.
Part of his optimism comes from his family: His 26-year-old son, Jorge Jr., joined La Poderosa in 2008 as the station's vice president and pledges to keep the fight for a new generation. With his floppy brown hair and disheveled T-shirt and jeans, Junior looks more like a gamer than a radio exec. But he's been learning the business since he was a teenager and plans to continue railing against Castro.
"When I was 13, I spent the summer transferring thousands of CDs into a digital archive," he says. In 2001, when he was 15, he covered exiles protesting the second Miami appearance of Los Van Van at the Latin Grammys show. "I remember watching a group of people chase some guy up a pole. He had yelled something like, 'Viva Fidel.' "
Four years ago, he graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in political science and went to work at his father's stations, where he has modernized production systems and websites. Recently, he and his dad tweaked La Poderosa's afternoon programming to include news from the station's correspondents in countries including Venezuela, Nicaragua, Brazil, and Colombia.
Rodríguez Jr. believes Cuban radio still has the power to galvanize the community. For instance, La Poderosa rallied people to protest at the Marlins' new ballpark shortly after the team's manager, Ozzie Guillen, made comments praising Fidel.
"What works in Houston is not going to work in Miami," Junior reasons. "In this city, people like to call in and voice their opinion. Listener participation is a big deal."
He is also quick to point out that many experts in local radio didn't think his father could survive after losing commentators such as García-Fuste, Milian, and Rodríguez Tejera after taking over the station in the '90s. La Poderosa — and all the GOP-loving, Castro-hating rhetoric it embodies — won't disappear anytime soon, he promises.
"The only place you're going to hear that from now on is here," he says. "It's not just about the ratings [for us]. It's about sentiment."