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"Wavescan" is a weekly program for long distance radio hobbyists produced by Dr. Adrian M. Peterson, Coordinator of International Relations for Adventist World Radio. AWR carries the program over many of its stations (including shortwave). Adrian Peterson is a highly regarded DXer and radio historian, and often includes features on radio history in his program. We are reproducing those features below, with Dr. Peterson's permission and assistance.

Wavescan, March 3, 2013

100 Years of Wireless & Radio in Bulgaria, Pt. 4: The Wartime Years

Here in our DX program Wavescan today, we take a look at Part 4 in the long and fascinating story of radio broadcasting in Bulgaria. This episode today covers the tragic wartime era in Europe during the middle of last century.

When the war began in continental Europe during the 1st few days of September 1939, there were four mediumwave stations on the air in Bulgaria, and two shortwave stations were in use also. In brief outline, these stations were as follows:

Shortwave Sofia 1.5 kW 8500, 14920, 8370 kHz
Sistova 9420 kHz
Mediumwave Vakarel 100 kW 850 kHz
Pavlova 1187 kHz
Varna 2 kW 1276 kHz
Stara Zagora 2 kW 1402 kHz

At the time, a new studio building was under construction at 4 Dragan Tsankov Boulevard in the capital city, Sofia. Work progressed slowly and it was not taken into service until the year 1942. However, two years later, this new building was badly damaged during a British air raid, and the roof and the eastern facade of the building were destroyed. In order to continue their radio broadcasting service, the studio equipment and function were transferred out into the country, into a school building in the village of Novi Han, nearly 20 miles out from the city.

However, all four of the mediumwave transmitters were in continued usage during this era, though the high power 100 kW transmitter on 850 kHz in Vakarel was operating at half power, 50 kW, due to the shortage of spare parts. During this era, the Vakarel transmitter was on the air with programming under the identification slogan, Radio Hristo Botev.

On shortwave, the two main channels in use were 8370 kHz & 14920 kHz, though 8500 kHz was also noted at times. The programming on the two main channels was noted in the United States under the identification slogans, Radio Sofia & Radio Garata, though the internationally allocated callsign was still LZA. The postal address for the shortwave service was listed as 19 Rue Moskovska in Sofia. However, it is stated that a new shortwave transmitter was inaugurated on July 1, 1944, with a relay of Bulgarian news on 8465 kHz.

During this intense war era, there was an interesting radio development in nearby Yugoslavia. On January 27, 1941, the Yugoslav authorities inaugurated a new 20 kW mediumwave transmitter on the edge of the city of Skopje. Two months later, on March 1, Bulgaria joined Germany as one of the allied powers in central Europe; and one month later again, the German army moved into the city of Skopje. Then a further one month later, on April 12, the new mediumwave station was reactivated.

Just eight days later, a team of radio personnel from Radio Sofia in Bulgaria reactivated the 20 kW station with programming in the German language. For a period of 3-1/2 years the Skopje radio station in Yugoslavia was operated by Radio Sofia personnel with programming as the 3rd Bulgarian radio station. Programming in the German & Bulgarian languages was radiated on 704 kHz.

In August 1944, the team of some 20 Bulgarian personnel returned to their homeland. Then, on December 28, Radio Skopje returned to the air under the local Yugoslav administration.

Russian forces entered Bulgaria on September 8, 1944, and this began a new era within the country. That will be the story when we take up the interesting history of radio broadcasting in Bulgaria again next month.