XEROK-AM is an AM (mediumwave) radio station that is a Mexican border blaster licensed to operate at a power of 150 kW (150,000 Watts) on a carrier frequency of 800 kilohertz from Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua. In the 1970s and into the 1980s, this station was known as "X-Rock 80, The Sun City Rocker" due to its proximity to El Paso, Texas, U.S. and its dial position on analog-dial radios which would usually drop the last 0 in a frequency (that's why the dial on some radios will at the end read "x10 kHz." 80x10=800.) Today since 1982 the station is known as "Radio Cañon". More recently, the station has been licensed to try Ibiquity's "H.D. Radio" digital transmission system as it attempts to resume broadcasting at its licensed power level instead of on lower power (as little as 500 watts.)
In the 70's a group of American investors leased the, then, 150,000 watt AM station and turned it into an English language Top 40 radio station. In the Spring of 1975, XEROK 80 was the highest rated Top 40 radio station in the United States, with the possible exception of New York's WABC, according to Arbitron. X-Rok 80 continued for a few years with immense popularity in El Paso, and much of the Southwest, but was eventually overtaken by an FM top 40 station (KINT-FM 97.5), as pop music listeners migrated to the FM band during the second half of the 1970s.
The station had operated since the 1930s as XELO. The long time format was Spanish Language programs by day, and brokered time programs (very often in English) targeted to audiences in the US. "Car Crazey Water Crystals" (a mineral treatment/patent medicine) was a well known advertiser. Ditto "Baby Chicks by Mail". religious programs were aired sometimes with exortations to send money in exchanged for "autographed photos of J. Christ of Biblical fame".
The 150kw plant was custom built in 1940-1941 by a team led by William "Bill" Branch an early well known radio engineer. Branch built a series of amplifiers to get power from low power oscillator level to the 150kw level. Modulation was achieved by Dougherty modulation, which while complicated, allowed extremely high levels of modulation and did not require large (and generally poor performing) audio coupling transformers.
The daytime line up move in 1972 to a US startup 1060 AM KAMA(AM) in El Paso, Texas. This gave the new station a 36 year head start. XELO changed to XEROK (AM) and changed to the top 40 format.
It is not generally known that XEROK was live in only brief periods of operation. At the beginning the programs were recorded, in real time, on tape and the tapes were carried by messenger to the transmitter site where they played after a 24 hour delay. This allowed the announcers to announce real clock times, but put them off accurate weather forecasts. Later the recordings were made 12 hours ahead of time. Still later the station ran several parallel studios so that four shifts were recorded at a time. In 1977-78 studios were used at the tower near Satellite, CH for live operation. The station usually operated with 50,000 watts days (extra power was more or less wasted by day, as the ground wave couldn't be pushed far enough to reach more population. By night the skywave transmission was helped by extra power sometimes to as high as 150,000 watts.
The Bill Branch built transmitter was used until 1971, when a CCA was installed. It was also the cause of Mr. Branches' death. Later they got a Continental Electronics 150kw unit. The Continental required a couple of minutes to change from low to high power settings, and the manual operation of switches in the front and the back. The station now uses a 50kw Harris DX-50.
There is open feed line out to the tower.