Luis Casas Romero: A Man of Radio and Culture

In the case of Zoila, she was the first woman announcer on the island. Her voice was over the microphone of the recently created station, the 2LC, which meant “Two Luis Casas” and that involved the joint work of father and son to achieve an objective: national and international repercussion.

Luis Casas Jr., who became an Electrical Engineer a few years later, was responsible for maintaining, technically speaking, the 2LC in the air during the time it broadcast, until 1928.

At first, the 2LC broadcast only a few hours a day, which ended a few minutes after the 9:00 p.m. cannon shot, when Casas, in his voice, told the time, a weather report, a brief news service, and several music pieces, which his daughter Zoila was in charge of.

Much has been written about Luis Casas Romero as a patriot, a man who joined the struggle for Cuba’s independence while still very young, as well as about his excellent quality as a musician. Also added to this should be, however, his good performance as radio operator and radio ham, and, above all, his absolute devotion, along with that of his son, to the creation of the first Cuban radio station, the third one in Latin America and the Caribbean, after Argentina and Brazil.

In a limited context, not only due to the poor development of radio technology in the region, and the low number of radios existing in Havana, many of them built in a traditional way, the signal coming from a 10 watt plant was aired from the center of Havana. It was the 2LC, built with modest resources, without official support. At the time, the signal could spread rapidly and very far. The atmospheric conditions were good and clean, since it was the only radio station that existed. The situation is very different today.

That culture of broadcasting that emerged as of August 22, 1922, is the origin of what we can enjoy today and that we find both normal as indispensable in terms of information and recreation by way of radio.

How surprising the original and striking programming –though simple as compared to current ones- that was just being born was for listeners! Hence another merit for Casas Romero, that of being the initiator of radio programs and newscasts in Cuba.

That plant, which resisted the hardest vicissitudes in a totally adverse sociopolitical and economic context, was the first radio service of continuity, since it was aired daily. Given these characteristics of the 2LC, we should analyze if we can consider Casas Romero as the pioneer of announcing on the island.

Also in Havana, less than two months after that historic-cultural event, the inauguration of the PWX – the first official station in the archipelago – owned by the Cuban Telephone Company, took place. It was October 10, 1922, and although that day is of patriotic importance for the nation, the President of the Republic of Cuba, giving an absolute demonstration of submissiveness, delivered his inaugural speech in English. A radio station with high-tech studios and transmitters and the advisory of technicians coming from the United States was born. The PWX began the long list of U.S. radio stations in Latin America.

Casas Romero proved his humble nature over and over again, and one of the most significant occasions was when – without any rivalry – he conducted the band that interpreted the national anthem during the opening ceremony of the PWX, where Rita Montaner sang, turning her into the first Cuban woman to sing over radio microphones.

In spite of the PWX owners’ insistence for Casas Romero and his son to become part of their payroll, this didn’t materialize until 1928, when the 2LC disappeared. Then, the father was appointed artistic director, and his son, technical manager.

Several years later, Casas Romero decided to found – as owner and director – the COC, the first Cuban short wave station of international reach, where he maintained the criterion that his closest relatives, of proven culture, worked with him in the programming, which he put into practice.

Other merits of great significance belong to Casas Rodríguez, since he was also the person -in addition of being a co-founder of the 2LC- who participated in the creation of the first national telephone chain in Cuba, and in the construction at the COCO station –the former COC-, in 1948, of the first mobile unit used in Cuba.

On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the death of Luis Casas Romero – October 30, 1960 -, those of us who work in Cuban radio remember him as the person who sowed the seeds of what we have at the moment, which establishes a constant challenge to do more and better programs every day. This goes beyond expressing that, currently, the radio subsystem has 96 stations with the best technology and experienced technicians -an equally valid criterion.

Honor and glory to the founder of the 2LC, a visionary of radio and culture who put into practice his ideas for the benefit of present generations.

Translated by Daysi Olano

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