The Wrath of Milenyo

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‘Milenyo’ shuts off radio station in S. Tagalog

October 11, 2006 23:33:00
Delfin Mallari Jr.
Inquirer

SINCE Typhoon “Milenyo” battered Quezon province with winds of 130 kilometers per hour on Sept. 28, people of Lucena City have been missing the broadcasts of dzLT, the oldest radio station in Southern Tagalog.

The station’s steel transmitter tower in Barangay Ibabang Dupay collapsed at the height of the typhoon and its parts scattered all over the muddy ground. Technicians and broadcast crewmen were then on standby, sipping coffee inside the studio and waiting for Milenyo to subside to resume operations.

Alex Tolentino, host of the early morning program “Balita at Komentaryo,” said he was at home when he learned that the tower had been toppled. “I felt pain penetrating my body. We were not expecting it to happen. For the past 46 years, the tower proudly stood tall.”

Jose Asensi Jr., the first announcer of dzLT, said it was the second time that the transmitter fell. “I can’t remember what year it was, but there was also a typhoon,” he said.

Original piece

“But since dzLT has been an institution, past management [officials] immediately conducted emergency repair to bring the station back on air,” said Asensi, now a city councilor.

Sally Maldonado, dzLT officer in charge, said broadcast operations might be resumed by the end of the month.

The original Recoh tube-type transmitter equipment, which the station has been using since 1960, still provided quality broadcasts with 5,000 watts in its 1188 radio frequency, technician Bong Eleuterio said.

The radio station first hit the air lanes on March 23, 1960. Then President Carlos Garcia and the First Lady Leonila Garcia, and Sen. Gil Puyat led guests during the opening ceremony.

The maiden broadcast was aired from the fourth floor of the defunct Luzonian College annex building in the city center. The three-story wooden structure still stands on Granja and Cabana streets but remains closed pending total renovation.

In his memoirs, Jose Mendoza, who served as station manager for 30 years until he retired in the early 1990s, said Congress, through Republic Act. No. 2354, granted Luzonian Colleges Inc. a franchise to operate a radio broadcast station for educational, scientific, cultural and commercial purposes.

School radio

“In another aspect, dzLT was also the first school radio station in Southern Tagalog,” Asensi explained.

Mendoza said the idea of putting up a radio facility in Quezon was conceived by then Rep. Manuel S. Enverga, founder of the Luzonian Colleges Inc. (now Manuel S. Enverga University Foundation). The lawmaker eventually formed Luzon Broadcasting Corp. for the purpose.

Two years after Enverga, father of incumbent Quezon Gov. Wilfrido Enverga, died in 1981, Luzon Broadcasting Corp. transferred dzLT ownership to Radio Corp. of the Philippines (RCP), owned by tycoon Eduardo Cojuangco.

The radio station is now operated by Pil-Radio Corp., one of the radio networks under RCP.

Mendoza said he proposed the present call letters—“L” for Lucena and “T” for Tayabas, the former name of Quezon province—and the rest is history.

To promote the new radio station, a stage troupe gave free entertainment in different localities in Quezon and neighboring provinces.

Asensi recalled that even before the first pail of concrete was poured into the base of the transmitter site, he was already being invited by Enverga to join the staff after learning that he had just graduated from a radio broadcasting course in Manila.

Asensi was later joined by Luzonian College professors, which formed the pioneer roster of broadcasters. “I started with P90 monthly pay check,” he said.

One of the original talents who later made it big in Manila was the late Joey Lardizabal of “Student Canteen” fame.

Live news coverage

Asensi started live news reporting in 1965 using the company car. “Since the vehicle was colored blue, I named it the blue car patrol. Using citizen-band radio units and telephones, our reporters from the field called in their latest information from local government offices,” he said.

Like the rest of the country’s mass media, dzLT ceased operations when martial law was declared on Sept. 21, 1972. But it was allowed to resume broadcast on Oct. 20.

The present breed of broadcasters vows adherence to responsible broadcasting “although in a more biting manner.”

“Our present style of biting commentaries reflects the kind of situation that we have today,” said another broadcaster.

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