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Radio News: Legendary pirate radio operator, Carlos Camacho, dies

Jun 13, 2022 11:33 pm

A legendary figure in pirate radio history, Carlos Juan Camacho Jr., died June 8 in Tampa. Camacho operated La Primerisima 89.3 FM from his home in Ybor City in Tampa, Florida, playing salsa and merengue music in the 1990s. The station was raided by officials from the Federal Communications Commission on April 13, 1998. Radio Amore, another unlicensed Tampa radio station was also raided that day by the FCC. That station was run by the Rev. Alberto Acosta who broadcast on 90.1-FM from a Baptist church. That raid came four months after three other pirate stations -- The Party Pirate, 87X, and Lutz Community Radio -- in Tampa were taken down by SWAT teams and the FCC. Tampa was a hotbed of pirate radio at the time, and the FCC's Tampa office busted more unlicensed stations than any other office in the country. Camacho did a do-it-yourself triangulation to locate 87X and meet Kelly Kombat, who was running that pirate station. "He proceeded to take me under his wing and school me on proper signal stabilization, how to use a limiter, how to tighten guy wires, and various other techniques in the operation of a 'professional pirate radio station,'" Kombat wrote of Camacho on Facebook after his death. "Carlos spoke in a thick rapid-fire Nuyorican accent, always with great enthusiasm about music and radio and family." Camacho was born in Puerto Rico on June 9, 1950. He ran the Red Plum Event Hall in New York, hosting performances from salsa stars including Hector Lavoe and Johnny Ventura. Camacho's obituary says "He made the first sound truck known as the 'Come Pava' in Puerto Rico," and also that, "He was an electrical technician and an alarms specialist and at the same time he followed his dream of having his own radio station, which he successfully broadcast for several years."