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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, April 21, 2013

100 Years of Wireless & Radio in Bulgaria, Pt. 5: The Russian Era

As our opening feature here in Wavescan today, we pick up the story of radio broadcasting in Bulgaria in the year 1944, during the month of September. That's when the Russian army moved into Bulgaria, the Bulgarian army switched sides in the European conflict, and radio broadcasting began to move into another direction.

At the time, there were three mediumwave stations on the air and two shortwave stations. The three mediumwave stations were:

The two active shortwave transmitters at this time were both located at the Sofia site, just 1-1/2 miles south east of Sofia city itself, and both transmitters were quite new. The rated power of each was 5 kW, though it is stated that they were operating actually at around 3 kW or 2 kW. The unit on 7490 kHz was installed in 1942, and the unit on 8465 kHz was installed during that pivotal year, 1944.

Back then, the main studio for Radio Sofia was still located in a school building out at Novi Han, some twenty miles southeast of Sofia. It was at 6:00 am on Saturday, September 9, 1944, that Russian personnel took over the radio facilities, which they controlled and developed for a period of time approaching almost half a century.

During their forty five year occupation of Bulgaria, the Russian administration oversaw the installation of many new facilities, mediumwave and shortwave, for the broadcast of radio programming throughout the country and internationally. In 1945, work began on the reconstruction of the old Radio Rodina transmitter, and test broadcasts were aired from Pavlova during the following year. Two years later, this transmitter was inaugurated with a regular broadcast service with 15 kW on 740 kHz, as Radio Sofia 2.

In the early 1950s, the Hungarian Standard Company renovated three mediumwave stations and increased their power output. These stations were:

It was in 1946 that East Germany provided a new mediumwave station at Sofia-Pleven on 594 kHz. During the ensuing years, transmission equipment was installed in country locations for an additional five mediumwave stations: Plovdiv, Stolnik, Blagoevgrad, Kardjali & Kolarovgrad. Their inverted pyramid studio building, adjacent to the much older studio building, was constructed in 1971.

On the shortwave scene, a total of four major shortwave stations have been placed on the air in Bulgaria. The first was always known as Sofia, and it was located just 1-1/2 miles southeast of Sofia in an area that is still heavily wooded. Two transmitters were installed here, both originally at 5 kW, one in 1942 and the other in 1944. One of these transmitters was upgraded to 15 kW in 1951.

The next shortwave transmitter base in Bulgaria was constructed in 1952 under the Russian administration at Stolnik, some thirteen miles east of Sofia. When this station was activated six years later, it contained two Russian made transmitters, one at 15 kW and another at 100 kW.

A few years later, another Russian shortwave station was constructed at Kostinbrod, ten miles northwest from Sofia, and the original installation contained four transmitters at 50 kW and one at 100 kW. Work at this station was underway during the years 1961 and 1962.

The fourth major shortwave station in Bulgaria was also installed by the Russians and work on this facility at Plovdiv, some fifty five miles southeast of Sofia, began in the early 1970s. Progressively, five high powered transmitters were installed at Plovdiv, two at 500 kW and three at 250 kW.

At the end of the Russian era in late 1989, a total of sixteen mediumwave stations were on the air throughout Bulgaria, ranging in power from 30 kW up to 250 and 500 kW. On shortwave, three transmitter bases were on the air, Stolnik, Kostinbrod and Plovdiv, with a total of eight shortwave transmitters ranging in power from 100 kW up to 250 and 500 kW.

So what happened in the radio scene in Bulgaria after the country exerted its own individuality? That question will be answered on the next occasion when we take another consecutive look at the "100 Years of Wireless & Radio in Bulgaria" - Part 6.