The Schwarzenburg HF transmitting station (1938-1998)

The curtain array at Schwarzenburg

The Schwarzenburg HF transmitting station (1938-1998)

1934: First steps: Studio Basel compiles weekly transmissions for Swiss abroad.

1935: First Shortwave outlets to North and South America via transmitters of the League of Nations, known as the “Voelkerbund”, operated by the Radio Suisse Co. in Prangins, near Geneva.

The curtain array at Schwarzenburg

1937: Weekly outlets in the three Swiss national languages, and features such as the “Week in Switzerland”, spoken correspondence, sports results etc. These transmissions took on so well that construction of an own transmitting centre was considered. The Swiss PTT was given then mandate to evaluate a suitable location. As a result, a wide plane near Schwarzenburg was chosen.

1938: The Swiss Parliament agreed to the project and shortly after, construction started.

The two Bobs at the Schwarzenburg Shortwave station in 1998

Bob Zanotti (left) and Bob Thomann (right), last guests at Schwarzenburg on 28 March 1998

1939:     Early spring, the station was completed, but on July 6, the station was destroyed by a big fire, allegedly due to a human shortcoming. Prangins took over helpfully the transmissions again, while reconstruction of the Schwarzenburg site began immediately and was even extended to contain additional transmitters for overseas radiotelephony, which became an important item, due to the aggravating political situation in Europe: WW-II was about to break out.

Early construction at Schwarzenburg in 1938

Early construction at Schwarzenburg in 1938

1939/1940:     Just about three months after its outbreak the Schwarzenburg transmitting site was rebuilt and became operational with two 25 Kilowatt AM Hasler transmitters and a few rotating Rhombic Antennas. At the same time, Radiotelephone Terminal Equipment was installed in the Main Post Office in Bern, where the technical and switchboard operators were about to connect telephone customers over the SW transmitters to various destinations, such as New York and Lisbon.

Bob Zanotti with an earlier transmitter at the Schwarzenburg

Bob Zanotti with an earlier transmitter at the Schwarzenburg “museum”. The station and its close-doors museum was shut down on March 29, 1998.

Swiss borders becoming blocked by the Nazi occupation of Europe, the Swiss had to build up their overseas supply using their merchant fleet with the main unloading harbours in Lisbon and Genoa. To avoid being torpedoed by German submarines, the ships positions were broadcasted daily via Schwarzenburg and picked up also by the German Marine HQ, so the Germans knew exactly where the neutral Swiss ships were. The ships themselves were in wireless contact via special services operated by the Radio Suisse Co. in Duebendorf near Zurich.

Using Radio amateur equipment: The construction of new additional transmitters was rather slow, Kurt Wydler, one of the first technicians of the station, a radio amateur (HB9DS) has just finished his Amateur-transmitter, but with the outbreak of the War, all Radio amateur equipment was confiscated by the PTT. Wydler’s transmitter, however, was sent back to Schwarzenburg, where a final 500 Watt amplifier was built and added – and was put into continuous operation for broadcasting.

1941: A 2.5 kW Western-Electric SSB transmitter was installed, by the way, that was the first SSB equipment in Switzerland, and at the Radio terminal in Bern also WE-Terminals and a special 5-band Speech- privacy to scramble the telephone communications were put into service. This was the beginning of an SSB-link between Switzerland and the US. The transmitting site was in Lawrenceville and the receiving station at Whiteplains, NY.

1946: After the War, continental communication saw a tremendous boom, which called for additional Equipment. Ten standard, 4-kW transmitters were installed, plus a 40 kW final amplifier.

The 25 kW AM transmitters at Schwarzenburg

1952: In addition to the Rhombic antennas, a new curtain-antenna-array was built and fed with almost one kilometre long 300 Ohm parallel feeder lines.

1960: The huge rotatable Swedish Allgon log-periodic antenna was built, which could carry 250 kW. also new matching the 250 kW BBC and Marconi transmitters joined the Hasier Equipment and shortly after, quite some 30 kW Siemens- SSB-transmitters were added. These Siemens were exclusively for the Radiotelephony service.

The 2.5 kW SSB Western Electric transmitter

The Sixties also saw half a dozen new 40 kW rotating log-period antennas to provide the fast-evolving radiotelephone service which included some 30 circuits to stations all around the world, some of them using the new Lincompex technique which improved the speech quality a lot, and which also allowed direct dialling.

So the Schwarzenburg transmitter served several purposes: broadcasting, radiotelephony and in:

1971: still a new Service was introduced: BERNA-RADIO, to provide wireless communication with air crafts aloft. Starting out with our national Airline Swissair, soon after many national, European and international airlines joined this practical instrument, to keep in touch with their home bases for all kind of communication. It proved quite handy when an aircraft had troubles of any kind so that the flight engineer could get immediate assistance from the company trouble-shooter. For this service, two new, fast switching and remote controllable 10 kW Siemens transmitters were added (these transmitters were later acquired by NEXUS-IBA and used to start IRRS-Shortwave’s European service).

one of the twin Siemens transmitters later modified for A3A, reduced carrier USB, and in operation since 1987 from IRRS-Shortwave's facility in Milano, Italy

NEXUS-IBA’s TX #1, one of the twin Siemens transmitters later modified for A3A, reduced carrier USB, and in operation since 1987 from IRRS-Shortwave’s facility in Milano, Italy, serving Europe, N. Africa and the Middle East. These fully automatic, fast switching transmitters were used by Berna Radio’s aeronautical service at Schwarzenburg to connect Swissair’s aircrafts flying all over the world to their company headquarters in Switzerland. NEXUS-IBA acquired them when IRRS-Shortwave started its transmissions in October 1987.

It is sad news indeed to report that this aeronautical service of Berna-Radio will also come to an end sometime in 1998, as aircraft communication has been veered to satellites, which provide 24 hours access, whereas HF Communications – as we all know, are subject to propagation conditions and occasional freaks.

Paul Stettler at control board in Schwarzenburg

It is indeed with some sadness and nostalgia, that we have to accept the closure of the legendary Schwarzenburg transmitting station, but all those having taken part from the very beginning it up and kept it running for almost sixty years can certainly look back to a most interesting era with the sure feeling, having accomplished a most rewarding task, and a job was well done, that’s for sure!

But nothing lasts forever. So we do have to accept the new age in which Shortwave broadcasting will – still for many years – be very much in evidence, and so will Swiss Radio International! The 500 kW transmitting station near Sottens in the French part of Switzerland will continue operation. The Schwarzenburg frequencies will be aired from stations in Juelich, Germany, and relay-stations in Africa, South America and the Far East.

The European outlet of 6165 kHz still in Lenk, in the Bernese Oberland, will also come to an end sometime in 1988, and that frequency will also most likely continue to be heard from a Juelich transmitter – i.e. from one of the Deutsche Welle’s transmitting sites. SRI will most likely also be heard Internet in the future, and can be picked up from satellites as well as on many cable systems.

So much from the history of the Shortwave transmitting site in Schwarzenburg.

Compiled by Bob Thomann in March 1988, edited by NEXUS-IBA staff in memorial of the legendary Schwarzenburg HF station shut down on March 29, 1998. Excerpts from Bob Thomann and Bob Zanotti (the Two Bobs) may be heard as part of the history and archives of the “Hello There” program. More pictures on the Schwarzenburg HF station may be found here.

More pictures of the HF station at Schwarzenburg (1938-1998)

Check the full article on the Swiss the HF station at  Schwarzenburg here

NEXUS-IBA and WRMI free airtime in Dec. 1996

NEXUS-IBA and Radio Miami International WRMI press release

NEXUS-International Broadcasting Association and WRMI (Radio Miami International) to offer free airtime during December 1996

Miami, Florida and Milano, Italy – 10 October, 1996 : Shortwave stations WRMI in Miami, Florida and IRRS in Milan, Italy will be offering free airtime during the month of December, 1996 to producers of cultural and educational radio programming.The two stations launched an initiative called “International Public Access Radio” (IPAR) in May of this year, offering airtime at a rate of US$1.00 per minute to cultural and educational programs in an effort to give these types of organizations more access to the international airwaves.

During December, 1996, IRRS-Shortwave and WRMI will be offering airtime to new IPAR clients completely free of charge. Those programmers who wish to continue after the free trial period will be able to do so at the special IPAR rate of US$1.00 per minute on each station.

“Governments and large religious organizations have long had access to high-powered international shortwave stations to spread their messages around the world,” said WRMI General Manager Jeff White in announcing the December promotion. “What we want to do — since we are both privately-owned stations — is give that same access to smaller, independent groups and organizations which may not have big budgets, but they may still have an important message they want to tell the world.”

WRMI (Radio Miami International) transmits to the Americas on 9,955 kHz, and IRRS-Shortwave broadcasts to Europe and North Africa on three different frequencies in the 41 and 75 meter bands shortwave, depending on the time of day.

Persons or organizations who would like to take advantage of the International Public Access Radio free airtime offer during the month of December 1996 on either or both stations may contact them via E-mail at : IPAR@nexus.org or as follows:

In Europe :
NEXUS-Int’l Broadcasting Association,
Telephone : +39-02-266-6971
E-mail : info@nexus.org

Home

In the Americas :
Radio Miami International,
P.O. Box 526852,
Miami, Florida 33152,
USA.
Fax +1-305-267-9253
Telephone +1-305-267-1728
E-mail : 71163.1735@compuserve.com

NEXUS-IBA and WRMI promote access to small radio program producers

NEXUS-IBA and WRMI on International Public Access Radio

NEXUS-International Broadcasting Association and WRMI (Radio Miami International) signed today an agreement to provide small cultural radio program producers access to radio audiences in the Americas, Europe and North Africa, and encourage listener-supported international radio

Milano, Italy – 26 April, 1996 : Representatives of Radio Miami International and NEXUS-International Broadcasting Association met in Milano, Italy, today to sign an agreement that will favour “international public access radio” on Shortwave.

The two organizations agreed to join forces to create a system of “international public access radio” whereby small producers of cultural radio programs can have the same access to international airwaves that large governments, political and religious organizations already have. Presently, most international Shortwave radio stations are owned by governments and large religious organizations who generally do not support the concept of private or individual radio broadcasting, and do not allow such organizations to purchase airtime on their facilities.

In the United States, the concept of “public access” broadcasting has existed for quite some time. Small independent program producers may broadcast their material on different stations at little or no cost, but this has generally been limited to local cable television stations. However, the concept has never been taken to the level of a national or international radio station, and nothing on this scale has ever existed in Europe.

Representatives of the two organizations stated that this new concept should be attractive to clubs, cultural associations, free radio producers and even individuals in many countries who have a message for the world. For the first time, these types of small program producers will have access to the same wide-reaching media used by the most influential governmental and religious broadcasters around the world.

Shortwave radio has been used for six decades by mostly governments to broadcast political messages. Despite the advent of satellites, cable and Internet, Shortwave radio continues to maintain a large and faithful audience around the world as new, compact, sophisticated receivers have come onto the marketplace at prices everyone can afford. For just the cost of a small portable receiver, listeners can get first-hand information on world events, lifestyles in different countries, as well as music and entertainment from almost anyplace on earth. And unlike some of the newer technologies, there are no subscription fees, encoded programs and bulky equipment to deal with.

NEXUS-IBA is a non profit organization which operates IRRS-Shortwave, a radio station in Milan, Italy, covering all of Europe, the Mediterranean and North Africa on Shortwave. Radio Miami International operates station WRMI in Miami, Florida, which reaches North and South America and the Caribbean. By means of this new joint venture, virtually anyone can afford to have a program on international airwaves at a cost of only one U.S. dollar per minute. At this cost, small cultural program producers will be entitled to the use of both stations, thus reaching a potential audience of millions of listeners.

Producers who wish to obtain more information about the new international public access radio provided jointly by NEXUS-IBA and WRMI may contact via E-mail at : IPAR@nexus.org or:

In Europe :
NEXUS-Int’l Broadcasting Association,
Fax : +39-02-706-38151
Telephone : +39-02-266-6971
E-mail : info@nexus.org

Home

In the Americas :
Radio Miami International,
P.O. Box 526852,
Miami, Florida 33152, USA.
Fax +1-305-267-9253
Telephone +1-305-267-1728
E-mail : 71163.1735@compuserve.com

UNESCO radio archives

UNESCO Radio archives

These audio files are part of the first RealAudio tests on UNESCO Radio at Internet Radio NEXUS dating back in 1995, also broadcasted as weekend feature programs on IRRS-Shortwave. You can hear the very low audio quality (mostly 8 kHz), almost telephonic quality, used at the beginning of the Internet in the 1990’s when most people were connected to the internet using 9.6 or 14.4 kbps modems.

NEXUS-IBA pioneered the use of audio streaming technologies as one of the first beta-testers of the first audio streaming technology called RealAudio.

The old files in RealAudio (.ra) format have been converted to MP3 and preserve the original poor sound quality which was just suitable for transmitting voice information. They are kept online for historical reasons only and may have no actual value.

These UNESCO radio programs were produced by Erin Faherty-Mella, Executive Radio producer at Unesco, and Vaiju Naravane in Paris, and brodcasted also by NEXUS-IBA to Europe and North Africa on Shortwave.

UNESCO Radio: World Press Freedom Day Message (May 3rd, 1999)

UNESCO Radio: India's Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao presents "Ghandi in the Global Village" [02:29]

UNESCO Radio: Venice : The vanishing Waterland [20:47]

UNESCO Radio: Healing the wounds [17:29]

UNESCO Radio: Stories from Northern Lands: Sweden, Part I [18:36]

UNESCO Radio: Chernobyl: Some lessons learned [20:00]

UNESCO Radio: Back to Dubrovnik, The Blood of the Stones [41:19]

UNESCO Radio: Dubrovnik revisited: a time for peace [24:32]

UNESCO Radio (Spanish): Conversationes con Federico Mayor Zaragoza, Director General de la UNESCO [27:22]

UNESCO Radio (Spanish): Education para todos : sueno o realidad ? [14:53]

United Nations radio archives

United Nations Radio Archives at IRN

These audio files are part of the first RealAudio tests on United Nations Radio at Internet Radio NEXUS dating back in 1995, also broadcasted as part of our weekend schedule on IRRS-Shortwave from Milan, to Europe and North Africa. In the 1990’s these programs, not available elsewhere in our target area, represented the only first-hand information about the United Nations available in Europe.

Most of the short news items that you can here below, including the reports from the former Yugoslavia, were transmitted each Friday night via telephone from New York, Zagreb and Geneva, and then aired on Shortwave during the weekend to Europe and North Africa.

You will notice the low audio quality (mostly 8 kHz) used at the beginning of the Internet in the 1990’s when most people were connected using 9.6 or 14.4 kbps modems.

NEXUS-IBA pioneered the use of audio streaming technologies as one of the first beta-testers of the first audio streaming technology called RealAudio.

The old files in RealAudio (.ra) format have been converted to MP3 and preserve the original poor sound quality which was just suitable for transmitting voice information. They are kept online for historical reasons only and may have no actual value.

UN Radio 4th World Conference on Women (September 1995, Beijing, China)

4th World Conference on Women (Beijing, China) opening cerimony

4th World Conference on Women (Beijing, China) Report for Sept. 4, 1995 [06:20]

4th World Conference on Women (Beijing, China) Report for Sept. 5, 1995 [04:25] (bad line)

4th World Conference on Women (Beijing, China) Report for Sept. 6, 1995 [03:24] (bad line)

UN Radio weekly reports from the former Yugoslavia via IRRS-Shortwave (May 1995-Nov. 1995)

UN Radio Report from the former Yugoslavia, 19 May 1995 [05:13]

UN Radio Report from the former Yugoslavia, 26 May 1995 [04:26]

UN Radio Report from the former Yugoslavia, 2 June 1995 [04:43]

UN Radio Report from the former Yugoslavia, 9 June 1995 [05:15]

UN Radio Report from the former Yugoslavia, 16 June 1995 [04:55]

UN Radio Report from the former Yugoslavia, 23 June 1995 [04:46]

UN Radio Report from the former Yugoslavia, 30 June 1995 [04:46]

UN Radio Report from the former Yugoslavia, 7 July 1995 [04:53]

UN Radio Report from the former Yugoslavia, 1 Sept. 1995 [05:27]

UN Radio Report from the former Yugoslavia, 20 Oct. 1995

UN Radio Report from the former Yugoslavia, 27 Oct. 1995

UN Radio Report from the former Yugoslavia, 3 Nov. 1995

UN Radio The World in Review (June 1995-Sept. 1995)

The World in Review, 9 June 1995 [14:31]

The World in Review, 16 June 1995 [14:13]

The World in Review, 23 June 1995 [14:09]

The World in Review, 30 June 1995 [14:23]

The World in Review, 1 Sept 1995 [14:20]

UN Radio Perspectives Internationales (French, June 1995-Oct. 1995)

Perspectives Internationales, UN 50th Anniversary no. 95/23 [14:06]

Perspectives Internationales, 23 June 1995 [14:13]

Perspectives Internationales, 30 June 1995 [15:01]

Perspectives Internationales, 1 Sept 1995 [14:50]

Perspectives Internationales, 20 Oct. 1995

Perspectives Internationales, 3 Nov. 1995