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Radio Sutatenza

By Jim Whitehead


The following item is taken from page 45 of the October 1973 edition of SPEEDX. It is placed here with permission of SPEEDX.

For 24 years, Radio Sutatenza has been a pioneer in the use of radio for educational purposes-- especially in the education of the rural adult, the "campesino". From modest beginnings Radio Sutatenza has grown into a major force in the battle against illiteracy in Colombia. Its multi-media approach has been so successful, in fact, that it is now being widely copied by other developing nations in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Radio Sutatenza is an arm of Accion Cultural Popular, an organization of educational media dedicated to providing the 8 million rural adults of Colombia with the wherewithal to assume the responsibility for their own development. Radio Sutatenza functions as the primary means of reaching these people with a program of instruction based upon the five basic notions of Health, Alphabet, Numbers, Economy and Work, and Spirituality. Thbse programs in hygene and basic health care, reading and writing, simple arithmetic, increasing productivity, and the recognition of personal dignity are supported and reinforced with a newspaper "El Campesino", rural libraries, personal correspondence, extension schools, and institutes for farmers.

Accion Cultural Popular was founded in 1948 by Monsignor Jose Joaquin Salcedo, the pastor of Sutatenza, a small village in the Andes. An amateur radio operator, Msgr. Salcedo realized radio was the most effective way to bring educational instruction to the far flung rural adults of Colombia. His dream was realized in 1949 when Radio Sutatenza began educational broadcasts using a 100 watt transmitter. At first there were but a few battery operated receivers to receive the broadcasts but the audience quickly grew. So too did Radio Sutatenza which then moved to Bogota and added more powerful transmitters. Later, to meet regional needs, Radio Sutatenza added transmitters in other major cities.

Radio Sutatenza operates two different programming formats simultaneously. The "A" program is a general purpose format mixing entertainment and sports coverage with educational instruction while the "B" program concentrates on instruction with frequent repeat broadcasts of lessons for the convenience of the students. The "A" program serves as the attention getter drawing the attention of the people to the instruction which is then reinforced with repeat broadcasts by the "B" program. Among the many features broadcast by Radio Sutatenza is one of special interest to the SWL. Called "Frecuencia Internacional", this program designed for foreign listeners is aired daily Monday through Friday at 1400 GMT.

The studios of Radio Sutatenza are located in Bogota, Cali, Barranquilla, Magangue, and Medellin. The station in Bogota is the largest with a 300 kw medium wave transmitter operating on 810 khz and three shortwave transmitters, a 50 kw RCA unit operating on 5095 khz, a 25 kw water cooled GE unit operating on 5075 khz, and a 10 kw Gates unit operating on 6075 khz. The Cali station operates on medium wave only. The transmitter there is 120 kw and operates on 700 khz. The same is true of the stations at Barranquilla, Magangue and Medellin which operate 120 kw on 960 khz, 120 kw on 590 khz, and 100 kw on 1010 khz respectively. This totals over 600 kw making Radio Sutatenza the most powerful educational radio in the world.

Webmaster's Note: Around 1990, Radio Sutatenza ran into financial and adminstrative problems. The station was closed down and most of the facilities were sold to the commerical Caracol network of Colombia.


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