Aire Libre, the successful youngest of radio that struggles to continue with its limited coverage in CDMX

Fresh Air 105.3 FM arrived in the capital’s radio quadrant in the same batch of new stations that brought with it El Heraldo, La Mejor and La Octava, among other brands that arrived and continue to arrive at the AM / FM in Mexico City since 2018, be it due to the sale of frequencies, content renewal or technical migration from one band to another, which in turn is the result of a regulatory policy.

But unlike all these concepts, the Aire Libre station did not repeat worn-out formulas in transmission of newscasts or recorded music; Nor did it steal human talent from the competition, nor does it reach Pachuca, Puebla or Toluca like those, and even less is it backed by a nationwide radio group.

What Aire Libre does have is a very limited coverage and transmission power, two technical factors that complicate its permanence in the capital’s radio, despite appearing in the first twenty places of popularity of 69 stations that exist at the level of general radio in CDMX and to be much higher when the measurements are focused on certain population niches, age, hours or consumption power.

Aire Libre is the sixth most listened to capital radio station in the segments A / B population and aged between 25 to 34 and 35 to 44 years old, according to INRA measurements for September 2021. This is a milestone for a radio station that officially turned on its antenna on December 1, 2018 to radiate over 24 kilometers of the Valley of Mexico and with 2000 watts of power first, although today it radiates at 3000 watts.

It should also be said that about the frequency of the XHINFO-FM 105.3 MHz is still planning a ghost and it has to do with those said regarding who actually owns the spectrum concession of this radio signal —The IFT regulator has investigated this particular matter to clarify any rumors— and how true it is that the owner of the concessionaire formally established in the frequency concession titles and that they are endorsed by the Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT), the businessman Eduardo Henkel, is today or not faced with the people who in practice make the day to day of the station.

What is verifiable and measurable is Aire Libre’s rating data; and it is also demonstrable that the station went off the air in the first days of October due to technical and human problems in its transmission antenna.

The concessionaire of the frequency from which the “Aire Libre” concept is transmitted is the company name XEFAJ, SA de CV. This company is authorized to send waves to the air from Magdalena Atlazolpa, in the mayor’s office of Iztapalapa in Mexico City. .

From that location, the signal is broadcast to practically the entire territory of Mexico City. The signal finds it difficult to receive in the mountainous areas of the mayors Gustavo A. Madera, Álvaro Obregón, Tlalpan and Milpa Alta; and also there, in some widely populated areas where the density of signals is higher, their power is equally opaque.

These technical pitfalls have made it difficult for three years for the contents of Aire Libre to be heard, even in important market areas due to its listening volume and purchasing power, such as the mayors of Miguel Hidalgo, Gustavo A. Madero, Coyoacán and Azcapotzalco.

Although the problems are technical, they affect the rights of the audiences and, perhaps, could be a matter to be resolved by the IFT in the criteria of economic competition and free participation in the capital radio station, due to the fact that a new commercial station, which came to put pressure on the local radio market with its presence, cannot do more given the limited power and coverage that it has In addition, it is also difficult to sell its attractiveness to potential advertisers due to this limited reach.

“It would be good to have more power, that would be excellent,” said José Álvarez, manager of Aire Libre’s programmatic bar and one of the creators of the legendary Radioactivo 98.5 FM.

“Between the pandemic, its own processes and the economic recovery, the IFT has a thousand issues to attend to in order to review ours later. The request is done; it is up to the authorization to be given to us. We’re on it. That they should give it to us, of course; They should encourage competition as well, of course. That they should thus promote quality, too. It would be very good if they turned around to see us and increase our power, if that means promoting competition, access to information, culture and entertainment, because all that is what this city needs ”, said José Álvarez.

The Federal Telecommunications Institute has argued for months that it is difficult to modify the parameters of Free Air transmission, as this is a Class “A” station in FM radio transmission. Rewriting those criteria would possibly mean interfering with other radio dealers.

But it is also true that the Federal Telecommunications Institute recently authorized the extension of power to Radio Educación 96.5 FM, a public medium under the Ministry of Culture.

Aire Libre, when it is authorized or denied to place its antenna on Cerro del Chiquihuite and go further with its range, tries to reinforce its coverage in areas where technical complications are generated, with a kind of “repeater”.

“The station seems to be in a vicious circle, where it would be better to improve its coverage and power (…) If you cannot solve your technical problems, you cannot generate confidence about your economic capabilities ”, stated Jorge Bravo, president of the Mexican Association for the Right to Information (Amedi).

The station has already become a public among listeners in the capital. According to INRA, the Aire Libre 105.3 FM station had an average share of 1.88% for the months of July, August and September, at the general radio level. The figure and that measurement criterion put Aire Libre still very far from Radio Fórmula, Ke-Buena, La Z, Stereo Joya or Mix FM, stations among the most listened to in the capital.

In the same measurement criterion, INRA reveals the surprise that Aire Libre achieved a higher share than the average July-September, of 1.88%, than that achieved by the Universal Stereo-La Octava combination, of 1.63% for the same period; and is a few tenths away from reaching El Heraldo Radio. At the general level of AM / FM radio in Mexico City, the Aire Libre station achieves a greater audience than other 42 stations belonging to different radio groups.

Every day from July to September 2021, at least 245,800 people in the Valley of Mexico listened for at least 15 minutes to Aire Libre.

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