Monday, December 06, 2010

On the Air and Off the Air in Sweden - Part 1

On this occasion, we call two international shortwave listeners, and they are Claes Englund in Sweden and Bruce White in Australia. In our recent mid year DX contest, both Claes & Bruce requested a Station Profile on radio broadcasting in Sweden. So gentlemen, here is your story, or at least Part 1 of your story, and we go way back to the very beginning.
Sweden is the southern or eastern country situated on the Scandinavian peninsula in Northern Europe. It is nearly 1,000 miles long, with a total population of a little less than 10 million.
The history of this Nordic country goes way back into the dim distant past, though the earliest written records were made by the Romans some 2,000 years ago. The daring exploits of the Vikings in their Atlantic conquests to the west and the south have been chronicled and re-chronicled, though it should be stated that the Swedish Vikings usually travelled east, spreading out into Russia.
Actually, as the old records tell us, wireless came very early to Sweden. It was back in the year 1900, that the Swedish navy borrowed some Marconi wireless equipment from the AEG company in Germany. This electrical equipment was used in a series of successful wireless tests at Stockholm, on land and at sea.
Two years later, the first permanent wireless station in Sweden was installed in Stockholm, and in fact it was in use for ship communication for exactly 100 years. This station was originally installed in the year 1902, it went through several series of modernizations, and it was ultimately closed on February 1, 2002. The long history of the Swedish coastal radio station SDJ must be one of the longest terms of radio service anywhere in the world.
During the era of wireless telegraphy in Morse Code, a whole network of coastal and regional stations was established in Sweden. These stations were installed mainly at coastal locations throughout the country and each callsign was issued in consecutive order, beginning with SAA in Karlskrone, SAB in Gothenberg, SAC in Trallerborg, and so on down through the alphabet.
And again, as the old records tell us, radio broadcasting also came quite early to Sweden. The first amateur radio broadcasters began their experimental transmissions during the year 1922, and interestingly, the callsign for each of these stations during this era consisted of four letters of the alphabet, beginning with SA or SM. These days, a regional identification number is inserted into the amateur callsigns in Sweden.
It is stated that there were many local stations on the air in Sweden during the 1920s and these were operated by radio clubs, commercial organizations and individual operators, as well as by the government Royal Telegraph Administration. Music programs were on the air quite often from many of these longwave & mediumwave stations.
The Swedish government announced in 1924 that it planned on nationalizing the broadcasting industry, as in England, and on Thursday January 1 of the next year, 1925, the new organization, Radiotjanet, produced its first network broadcast. This epic radio occasion was a special program held in Jakob’s Church Stockholm.
Back in the late 1920s, there was a total of 15 mediumwave stations scattered throughout Sweden, all of which were on the air with the four letter callsigns beginning with either SA or SM. Over the years, a total of more than 100 mediumwave stations have been established throughout Sweden, mostly with quite low power, though half a dozen would be described as high power stations.
On longwave, as in many other countries of Europe, there were three high powered stations and these were located at Motala, Lulea & Gotheberg. However, Sweden abandoned the usage of longwave broadcasting in 1991.
The best known high powered mediumwave station in Sweden was located at Solvesborg, and in the 1980s it was on the air with an evening relay of the Foreign Service for Europe at a power of 600 kW. This station on 1179 kHz was the last mediumwave station in Sweden and it was closed down on Saturday October 30, just a little over a month ago. All radio for local coverage in Sweden is now on FM.
We now take a look at Sweden on shortwave. Back in the mid 1930s, there were two shortwave stations on the air with program broadcasting. These two stations, both with amateur style callsigns, SM5SD & SM5SX, were located in Stockholm, and they were logged in the United States and Australia. Station SM5SX was installed at the Technical University and its operating channel was 15080 kHz.
With political tensions rising in Europe during the late 1930s, Sweden opted to enter the field of international shortwave broadcasting. The longwave station at Motala was inaugurated in the summer of 1927, and 10 years later, two Swedish made shortwave transmitters rated at 12 kW each were installed at this location. These two new units were inaugurated, one in 1938 and the other in 1939. Four different channel callsigns were in use for these shortwave units, SBO & SBU and SBP & SBT.
The usage of these two historic shortwave transmitters was phased out after the higher powered shortwave stations were inaugurated at Horby & Karlsborg. In 1962, the longwave service at Motala was transferred to a new location at nearby Orlunda. Some 35 years later, the Motala building was turned into a radio museum, and the original longwave transmitter is now there on display.
OK, now that’s as far as we can go in this program. In two week’s time, we plan to complete this story, the story of radio broadcasting in Sweden, as suggested and requested by Claes Englund in Sweden and Bruce White in Australia.
(AWR Wavescan # 93 via Adrian Peterson)