"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 323, March 4, 2001
What Happened to them Afterwards? Swiss Radio at Lenk
Switzerland is a delightful tourist country, with high snow covered mountains, huge valleys with rapid streams flowing through them, and picturesque, clean villages. This country is a photographer's delight, with beautiful flowers growing profusely, contented cows grazing on deep green pastures, and pretty girls dressed in colorful folk costumes.
Switzerland is noted also for its long time neutrality during times of nearby warfare, for its humanitarian aid with the International Red Cross, and for its locale as the scene for the League of Nations and the United Nations. Swiss watches have become famous worldwide, as is also the delightful quality of their folk music.
On the international radio scene, Switzerland is also held in very high regard for the quality and the reliability of their shortwave broadcasts. Millions of people throughout the world have become familiar with the beautiful music box rendition of their tuning signal.
The story of radio in Switzerland goes back to the early wireless days, and it is linked with the watchmaking industry. Before the advent of wireless and the telephone, the only way that country clockmakers could get an accurate time was to travel with a clock to the capital city and check it against a reliable public clock. When the clockmaker returned home, then he could share the accurate time setting with other clockmakers in nearby areas.
When spark wireless stations were established in several countries of Europe, it was no longer necessary for the clockmaker to travel in order to obtain accurate time. He could simply tune in to a wireless station on his wireless receiver. In the year 1911, Swiss watchmakers began making wireless receivers that could tune in to the time signals from station FL on the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
The first official radio broadcasting station in Switzerland was inaugurated on August 22, 1922 under the callsign HB2. This station was located in Lausanne and its programming consisted mainly of weather reports and locally produced Swiss folk music.
On shortwave, the first station was located at Schwarzenburg. It was constructed in the year 1939, and before it became fully operational it was mysteriously burned down. However, it was quickly rebuilt.
The next location in Switzerland for a shortwave transmitter was Beromunster, followed by Sottens, Lenk and Sarnen. The transmitter base at Lenk was located near the common Swiss borders with France and Italy.
The station at Lenk became operational in 1974, and, at full capacity, it was on the air with two BBC transmitters at 250 kw. This station was on the air for a period of 24 years, and it was closed in 1998. Many international radio monitors all around the world have received prized QSL cards from Swiss Radio International verifying their reception of the Lenk radio station.
At a regional radio meeting last year, I talked again with George Zeller who is a columnist with the monthly magazine, Monitoring Times. I asked him what happened to SRI at Lenk. George, an American, has visited Switzerland on several occasions, checking out his ancestral heritage and also visiting major radio stations. He stated that the two transmitters at Lenk were installed in an underground bunker. The antennas are also gone, and the site is once again a cow pasture.
Maybe a visiting photographer will see the restored beauty of this country scene and will take a picture of it in color, little realizing that this was the location of a large and important international shortwave station operated by Swiss Radio International.