KZRC/DYRC, for Radio Cebu, was the first broadcast station to operate outside Manila

KZRC/DYRC, for Radio Cebu, was the first broadcast station to operate outside Manila in the early days of radio during the American colonial period. Following the Japanese occupation of the country in World War II, during which all radio was under Japanese control, KZRC was again first to operate outside the Philippine capital. It was put up in October 1929 by the Radio Corporation of the Philippines (RCP), then owned by the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), to serve as a one-kilowatt relay station for RCP’s Manila station KZRM (for Radio Manila), transmitting the latter’s programs to the rest of the Visayas and Mindanao. From its first studio on Colon St in Cebu City, it moved to the Lim Bon Fing Building on Carmelo St, today P. Lopez St.


Experiencing technical difficulties in its first two months, RCP replaced its equipment and continued its operation until it was sold in 1931 to Manila department store Erlanger & Galinger, along with KZRM. The store used the stations, along with another station in ManilaKZEG (for Erlanger & Galinger), mainly to promote its merchandise. KZRC then continued to relay programming from Manila, this time not only from KZRM but also from KZEG. However, Erlanger & Galinger may have discontinued operation of KZRC in 1935 as no records of the station’s broadcasts exist from this year until it was bought by H. E. Heacock Co in 1939. Before this sale, Erlanger & Galinger sold KZRM and KZEG to Far Eastern Broadcasting Corporation. Owned by Samuel Gaches, Heacock put up another station in Manila, KZRH (for Radio Heacock) in the same year that it purchased KZRC. KZRC’s inaugural broadcast under its new owner was heard from the Heacock Building on Magallanes St, Cebu City, on 2 March 1940.


At the end of the following year, 1941, all Manila-based radio stations discontinued broadcasting when the United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) destroyed their equipment as the Japanese invaded the Philippines. This made KZRC the lone commercial station that operated in the country until the Japanese Army took Cebu in early May 1942. It carried the signal of the Voice of Freedom, a short-lived resistance radio broadcasting from Corregidor and operated by the USAFFE, the joint Filipino-American forces that after a brutal four-month siege surrendered to the Japanese.


Following the end of the war in 1945, Heacock sold its stations to a new broadcast firm, the Manila Broadcasting Company (MBC) owned by brothers Joaquin and Manuel Elizalde. On 21 September 1947, MBC reopened KZRC. When all Philippine stations changed their initial call letter to D on 1 January 1949, with Luzon taking Z as its second call letter, Visayas Y, and Mindanao X, KZRC became DYRC.


As a relay station for Manila programs in its first several years of operation, KZRC’s airtime was dominated by popular and classical music, with live singing, live band music, and dance music. The station also transmitted foreign programs. However, when Heacock took over KZRC, programs produced in Cebu were introduced to the programming. Two of these were Amateur Hour, produced and hosted by composer-actor Ben Zubiri aka Iyo Karpo, and Sunday Night Serenata, also a music program. The news-and-music programming of the station was delivered in three languages: Spanish, Cebuano, and English. Jose del Mar and Gaudencio Peña were in charge of Spanish programming, while Jose Bautista handled the shows delivered in Cebuano. KZRC had a resident comedian, Leonardo Gutierrez.


MBC staffed the postwar KZRC, later DYRC, with Simoun Almario as program director and Angelo Castro as production manager, ushering in a new programming of news, music, drama, and variety shows. DYRC continues to operate today with the same call sign DYRC Radyo Cebu 648 kHz, broadcasting from Fuente Osmeña, Cebu City. Currently owned by the Pacific Broadcasting Systems, a subsidiary of the Manila Broadcasting Company, its programming is now dominated by news and talk, with Cebuano as the principal language.


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