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Border blasters are legally licensed radio stations based along the border of the United States and Mexico. Sometimes referred to as X stations, these operations operate with the aid of high power output that allows the signals to be picked up with ease along the border area of the two countries. While not a true international broadcast station, the border blaster does tend to serve a niche market in both the country of origin and the bordering nation.
What sets a border blaster apart from radio stations that can be picked up in more than one country is the content of the programming. In the case of the border blaster radio stations along the US/Mexican border, the program content is specifically geared toward persons who have ties to Mexico or who have an affinity with the culture of that nation. Thus, the target audience for a border blaster is somewhat focused, rather than attempting to appeal to a wide range of tastes and backgrounds.
The concept of the border blaster has its roots in wartime broadcasts during the first half of the 20th century. Often, the focus of those border blasters had to do with setting up radio transmissions that would serve the interests of one side of the conflict or another. In peacetime, the same concept was adapted and utilized as a means of offering entertainment and news to persons who chose to migrate from Mexico to the United States.
Early on, most border blaster stations operated on AM frequencies. This began to change for two reasons. First, the governments of Mexico and the United States took steps in 1972 to standardize the broadcasting frequencies for FM transmissions. This action, coupled with the growing popularity of FM radio, led to a gradual shift away from AM broadcasts. Today, most of the border blaster radio stations broadcast on the FM band, although a few continue to utilize AM transmissions.
Every true border blaster is a fully licensed commercial radio station that operates within the regulations set by the Mexican government. The transmitters used by the stations are very similar to the radiated power transmitters utilized by many major radio stations within the United States. This allows the stations to provide a strong signal to listeners who are a significant distance from the border.
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