Rafael Delgado Márquez

Rafael Delgado Márquez

Rafael Delgado Márquez was one of the main agents in the development of public radio and television, which were components of the plan for modernizing Puerto Rico that was developed between the 1940s and the 1970s, in addition to his role in Puerto Rican commercial television. In 1942, when the Puerto Rico Communications Authority (ACPR for its Spanish acronym) was created, he was named general manager of the agency.

Delgado Márquez, a civil engineer and a graduate of the Agriculture and Mechanical Arts College at Mayagüez and a native of San Lorenzo (1905), began his work immediately upon his appointment. That same year, he transferred the telegraph system to the ACPR and tried to nationalize the Porto Rico Telephone Company (PRTC). Between 1942 and 1947, ACPR negotiated with International Telegraph & Telephone Co. (ITT) to acquire the telephone company in Puerto Rico. At that time, their efforts were unsuccessful. Delgado believed that if he could not buy the company, the PRTC would have the right to increase rates up to 50 percent, without any assurance that the rate increase would be sufficient to improve the service to the level required for the development of Puerto Rico.

During the first three years of his administration, however, several important improvements to the telegraph and telephone infrastructure were achieved, a telephone book was published and a telephone information service was created. On January 1, 1944, by executive order of Governor Rexford Tugwell, he was put in charge of telephone service for all the government agencies and departments that were under the Porto Rico Telephone Company. The measure saved the government telephone costs of approximately $10,000 a year.

In 1945, the ACPR applied to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to build and operate the first public radio station in Puerto Rico: WIPR-Radio. The main reason, according to a memo from Rafael Delgado Márquez to Luis Muñoz Marín, was not to compete “for now with the established businesses in Puerto Rico that are dedicated to broadcasting news and business activities by radio. The Authority has in mind to offer programs of selected music and commentary on governmental activities to the public.” On January 26, 1949, the first program was broadcast on the government radio station.

Plans for a public television station were defined between 1950 and 1954. It was Rafael Delgado Márquez who was put in charge of developing and completing the project. However, in a meeting between Angel Ramos, president of Empresas El Mundo — which included WKAQ-Radio and the newspaper El Mundo — and then governor of Puerto Rico, Luis Muñoz Marín, it was agreed that the services of Rafael Delgado Márquez would be lent to Empresas El Mundo to develop the first commercial television station in Puerto Rico: WKAQ-TV.

Rafael Delgado Márquez led the creation of WKAQ-TV from 1952 until its inauguration in 1954. Having left his mark on the creation of the first commercial television station in Puerto Rico, in 1955 he returned to the Department of Public Education to continue developing WIPR-TV.

From the time it went on the air in 1958, WIPR-Radio and WIPR-TV began consolidating their management teams, led by Delgado Márquez, under the Radio and Television Service General Administration.

On April 28, 1961, the government retransmission station, WIPM-TV, Channel 3, was officially inaugurated and Delgado Márquez ended his work as general manager and returned to his original post as General Manager of the Puerto Rico Communications Authority.

In 1964, Delgado Márquez returned to work at Empresas El Mundo to develop the El Mundo building, another symbol of the modernization of Puerto Rico, which brought together the newspaper El Mundo, the studios and offices of WKAQ-Radio and WKAQ-TV and the film dubbing facilities known as Film & Dubbing.

Rafael Delgado Márquez was an important figure in the Puerto Rican communications field. His contributions as a leader and a public administrator consisted of bringing to life the cutting edge projects that led to the creation of government radio and television stations.

Author: Luis Rosario Albert
Published: September 12, 2014.

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