I didn't take a picture of the radio station from Boot Key because I did not know the significance of it at the time. Since then I've tried to get a picture from a distance with varying amounts of success. This one was taken as we sailed out of Marathon to go home.
Radio Marti signed on the air on May 20, 1985 on 1160 kHz with 14 1/2 hours of programming from VOA's transmitters on Boot Key, Florida. The staff monitors Cuban broadcasts, reviews Cuban publications, talks with Cuban immigrants, defectors and visitors in order to gauge what domestic broadcasts in Cuba lack. "We had to find out what the Cubans were telling their population," Director Ernesto Betancourt explains, "and then determine what information should be made available to them to compensate for the omissions". Over time, programming hours increased and included such items as news, entertainment, soap operas and messages for Cuban-Americans to their relatives back on the island.
Reports from exiles, defectors, and even journalists within Cuba also support the station and give credence to the fact that Radio Marti is the most-listened to radio station on the island.
Radio Marti employed 122 people and continues to broadcast 24 hours a day for 7 days a week on various shortwave and mediumwave frequencies.
Since Boot Key is privately owned, you can't go crashing off into the undergrowth (even if that was possible in the mangroves), but you can see more than 16 species of falcons, hawks and other raptors that migrate through the Florida Keys on their way to southern wintering grounds.
According to a WIldlife Viewing website:
Pull over and bird from the roadside. Binoculars and a spotting scope will help. Beginning in late August and September, watch for early migrants such as swallow-tailed kites, ospreys and Mississippi kites. Migration continues into early November, but sightings of broad-winged, Swainson’s and sharp-shinned hawks, American kestrels, and peregrine falcons are more concentrated in the first week of October. Keep an eye out for migrating songbirds in the spring and fall, and for mangrove cuckoos and other Keys specialties. Check the cellular phone towers for resting bald eagles and peregrine falcons.
Radio Marti is definitely off the beaten track as the site is padlocked and fenced. You can't get into it.
The cruisers who are anchored off Boot Key are about as close to Radio Marti as anyone.
An article by Nick Grace C., in 1998 on Radio Marti said in part:
The idea for Radio Marti was first broached in 1981 when US President Reagan declared that it was his administration's intention to establish a Radio Free Cuba that would operate like Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty. On October 4, 1983, Ronald Reagan signed the Radio Broadcasting to Cuba Act Public Law 98-111.)
Fidel Castro immediately threatened to broadcast Cuban stations on the same frequencies as commercial U.S. stations on medium wave, and after Radio Marti's inaugural broadcast he cut an immigration agreement with the U.S. government.