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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 N263, March 9, 2014

Radio Broadcasting in Albania

[Information from Drito Cico, head of monitoring center and shortwave frequency manager of Radio Tirana; presented by Jeff White]

Tirana became the capital of Albania in 1920. The area occupied by Tirana has been populated since Paleolithic times dating back many thousands of years ago. Tirana was founded as an Ottoman town in 1614 with nearly 7,000 inhabitants. Today it has about a million. Tirana is on the same parallel as Naples, Italy, Madrid, Spain, Istanbul, Turkey, and New York, and on the same meridian as Budapest, Hungary and Krakow, Poland.

Radio Tirana International, founded on November 28, 1938 during the rule of self-declared King Ahmed Zog I, became a World Wide Broadcast Empire during the Enver Hoxha regime (from 1944 to 1990) with the help of the Chinese. It had daily radio programs in 22 languages with Marxist-Leninist propaganda up to 1990.

In Albania, broadcasting started in the year 1937 with the installation of a medium wave transmitter with a power of 10 Watts as well as studio apparatus, and all of these were installed in the city of Tirana.

On November 28, 1938 a short wave transmitter with a power of 3 kW was put into operation at Tirana and intended mainly for communication, but it was also used to transmit 3 hours of broadcast programmes per day.

In the year 1940 a medium wave transmitter was installed with a power of 1 kW in the old building of Radio Tirana together with studio equipment. Later on several medium wave transmitters were installed with powers of around 60-300 Watts at Gjirokastra, Kucova, Shkodra, Korca and Vlora which transmitted local programs.

After the liberation of Albania after World War II, and with the help of the Albanian Communist Party, there were important steps in the development of broadcasting in Albania. In March 1952, at the outset of the second Congress of the Party, a medium wave transmitter was inaugurated with a power of 50 kW at Tirana, which at that time brought about a noticeable improvement in the coverage of the country.

In November of the year 1961, at the time of the 20th anniversary of the Party, the Radiocenter in Durres (or Shijak) was opened with 3 transmitters, 2 of them on short wave with a power of 50 kW each (with the possibility of combining them to produce 100 kW). These were for broadcasting external service transmissions outside of Albania, and there was 1 medium wave transmitter with a power of 150 kW which was proposed to broadcast transmissions outside of Albania, but from the beginning it was used for the transmission of the internal program of Radio Tirana.

Radio Tirana was heard far beyond the Albanian borders. There were even a few popular songs written about the station in Italian, like this one by Franco Battiato called "Eh Radio Tirana Transmette." [ ]

In fact, the place of installation of this transmitter (in Shijak) was not so appropriate to cover inside Albania, but it was installed there because it was proposed in the project to work with a directional antenna towards the Middle East for transmissions outside of Albania. Instead of the directional antenna, an omnidirectional antenna was installed with a 129 meter tall mast and the transmitter was used to broadcast the domestic programmes of Radio Tirana.

The new building of Radio Tirana was inaugurated in December 1965 with 8 transmitting studios, 5 recording studios, 5 montage studios, and a large music studio.

In October 1966 at Durres (or Fllaka) a medium wave transmitter was installed with a power of 500 kW, and 5 years later a second transmitter of 500 kW was installed nearby with the combine the two at 1000 kW. Both transmitters broadcast the programs of Radio Tirana external services.

In October 1967 the radio center at Elbasan (Cerrik) was opened with 16 short-wave transmitters , of which 10 had a power of 50 kW each (with the possibility to combine them in pairs of 100 kW) and 6 with a power of 15 or 25 kW each.

Via this shortwave center the programs of Radio Tirana International were broadcast to world wide target areas.

In 1987 Radio Tirana International broadcast 66 hours of programs per day in 20 to 22 foreign languages on medium and short wave--a worldwide broadcast Empire.

A rental agreement between the Albanian Radiotelevision and the Chinese Film and Radio Television was signed in Tirana on December 16, 2003 that leased the shortwave Radio Center in Elbasan (Cerrik) to the Chinese for at least 15 years and this may be extended, depending upon the requirements of the two parties.

The old Chinese short wave transmitters of Radio Tirana in Cerrik were dismantled and the Chinese, in a record period, transformed the building and surroundings at Cerrik by installing 6 new short wave transmitters with a power of 150 kW.

CRI–China Radio International started its transmissions on short wave via Cerrik on the 28th of November 2004.

Radio Tirana on short wave via Cerrik was closed at the end of July 2004 and on August 6, 2004 Radio Tirana started its broadcasts on short wave via Shijak, by inaugurating the 2 new Chinese Continental clone short wave transmitters with a power of 100 kW. The operational staff at Shijak is Albanian plus 3 Chinese specialists.

During the years 1980-1983, there were medium wave transmitters installed with a power of 50 kW at:

(All of these medium transmitters were switched off in 2001 or 2002).

Through these transmitters and the ones at Shijak (150 kW on 1089 KHz) and at Kashar (50 kW on 1359 KHz) the domestic program of Radio Tirana was broadcast.

Also put into operation in the year 1980 was an FM transmitter with a power of 10 kW on Dajt mountain (at an altitude of 1613 m.) on 99.5 MHz. Its FM signal serves two purposes, as a primary signal to feed the medium wave transmitters in Kukes, Korca, Gjirokastra, Shkodra and Saranda and for listeners of Radio Tirana who had FM capable receivers and lived within range of the transmitter.

After the year 1987 it was predicted that a network of FM transmitters would be installed to broadcast in stereo the second program of Radio Tirana.

The very mountainous terrain of Albania and its bad conductivity causes considerable absorption of the ground wave. This is the reason that in such terrain the powerful transmitters do not have the required coverage and therefore the installation of a network of medium wave transmitters was recommended instead.

The small surface of the territory of Albania does not favor the use of short wave for its coverage.

The sky wave propagates much farther than the ground wave, reaching maximum distances of 300-450 km away from the transmitter. Because the surface of Albania is small, it is not possible to use the sky wave efficiently for its coverage. Therefore the coverage of Albania was based on ground wave propagation.

Because in the mountainous part of Albania the ground wave undergoes considerable absorption, the Fading Belt appears relatively close to the transmitters. Because the coverage of Albania day and night is based on the ground wave, a vertical antenna was selected for the transmitter. This is a mast that is supported on a ceramic isolator where the mast itself plays the role of vertical radiator.

The Shijak medium wave transmitter on 1089 KHz radiating a power of 150 kW achieved the desired coverage for the Radio Tirana domestic program during the day in about 65% of the territory, and during the night hours about 31.9%.

On February 3, 2006 at around 0800 UTC the medium wave transmitter on 1089 KHz at Shijak (on the air since 1961) was switched off.

Canadian Radio Panorama: The Intervening Years

In this our next episode in the series, Canadian Radio Panorama, we cover the intervening years from the wireless era into the beginning of mediumwave radio broadcasting, a period of around twenty years.

The earliest wireless experiments attributable to Canada took place in the year 1898. The experimenter was the noted 32 year old Canadian born Reginald Aubrey Fessenden. However, his earliest wireless experiments did not take place in Canada, but rather in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the neighboring United States where he was employed by the University of Pittsburgh.

The 1898 Fessenden experiments involved the usage of the simple telephone equipment that was available back then, and his experimentation was an attempt to devise workable procedures for the transmission of the human voice. During the following year, 1899, he succeeded in making voice transmissions, though quite garbled, between Pittsburgh and Allegheny City, which is now a northern suburb of Pittsburgh itself.

Two years later, there was a remarkable development in the long distance reception of a wireless signal and this took place on December 11 & 12, 1901. The notable experimenter was Guglielmo Marconi, and the location was Signal Hill, near St. John's in Newfoundland; but this event took place before Newfoundland was federated into the Dominion of Canada (1949). This first wireless signal across the Atlantic, the letter S in Morse Code, was transmitted from Poldhu in England.

Wireless history in Canada really began a couple of weeks later, on the day after Christmas actually, when Marconi arrived at Sydney, Nova Scotia, on the steamer "Bruce" with the intent of searching for a suitable location to establish a large wireless station. This large new facility at coastal Table Head was four times larger than the Marconi station at Poldhu in England, and it made its first test transmission on November 19, 1902 with 75 kW on 82 kHz longwave.

Two years later, the Table Head station was dismantled and rebuilt at a new location 3-1/2 miles distant where it was opened with an official ceremony five years later on October 17, 1907. The receiver station was located at Louisbourg, 25 miles distant from Glace Bay.

In the meantime, the Marconi company in Canada established a multitude of regional maritime wireless stations along the eastern and western seaboards, the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines, as well as nearby to many waterways, including the Great Lakes. It is understood that the first of these lower powered regional maritime stations was installed at Heath Point on Anticosti Island, at the mouth of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1904. This station was on the air under the callsign VCI. At one stage in its history, Anticosti Island was the world's largest privately owned island, 135 miles long.

Amateur wireless stations were first licensed in Canada in 1911, and callsigns consisted of three letters beginning with XA. However, after the end of World War I, when amateur radio stations were again permitted in Canada, the callsign structure was modified, still with three digits, but with a number, 1 through 9, followed by two letters.

At this stage, experimental radio broadcasting stations were allocated callsigns with four digits, the number 10 followed by two letters. However, quite soon afterwards, radio broadcasting callsigns were regularized into four letters beginning with the letter C.

The first radio broadcasting station in Canada, or in the world as some people would suggest, was established by the Canadian Marconi company in Montreal in 1919. The callsign XWA was taken into usage for this new experimental broadcasting station, though in reality this callsign was already in use with the Marconi Company at least four years earlier.

An official report from the Naval Service dated March 31, 1915, lists a Marconi station under the callsign XWA, and it states also that this was the only radio telephone station on the air in Canada at the time. The three call letters XWA stood for Experimental Wireless Apparatus.

Four years later, a series of test broadcasts was made, in the early part of the year 1919, to determine the viability of establishing an experimental radio broadcasting station in the Montreal area.

During the Spring of the year 1919, the Marconi company installed a 500 watt transmitter on a truck with the antenna attached to the roof. This transmitter model was known as the "Captain Round" transmitter, it was designed and constructed at the Marconi factory in Chelmsford, England, and it was housed in a self-contained wooden cabinet. A series of telephony tests around Montreal indicated a modest coverage area of just three or four miles.

However, the transmitter was then installed on Tarte Pier in Montreal Harbour for a series of subsequent test transmissions that produced a much wider coverage area. The wireless operator on board the icebreaker "Lady Grey" reported good reception at a distance of 30 miles.

This same 500 watt transmitter was then installed on the top floor in the Marconi Building in William Street, Montreal during the summer of the same year 1919. This transmitter was licensed in November with the callsign XWA, and it made its first program broadcast from a temporary studio at the same location on December 1 (1919).

At the time, programming was made up quite spontaneously with station announcements, news bulletins read from the local newspapers, and music from locally available 78 disc records. Station XWA was also in use at other hours for communication traffic and experimental transmissions.

Regular program broadcasting from station XWA began on May 20 of the following year, 1920, and the first program was a remote broadcast from the Chateau Laurier Hotel in Ottawa. The occasion was a special meeting of the Royal Society of Canada, and the evening program was a musical concert with orchestra and soloist Dorothy Lutton. At this stage, the 500 watt transmitter was radiating on the longwave channel 1200 m., 250 kHz.

As the radio historians tell us, the callsign for the Marconi experimental station in Montreal was regularized a year later, and XWA became CFCF, on May 15, 1922. The allocation of callsigns at the time required four letter calls beginning with CF, and it is suggested that the Marconi company chose the double callsign CFCF, thus providing the slogan, "Canada's First, Canada's Finest".

A multitude of radio broadcasting stations proliferated throughout Canada quite quickly soon afterwards.