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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 471, January 11, 2004

Early Radio Broadcasting in Denmark

Just a little over a week ago (December 31, 2003), the shortwave service from Radio Denmark signed off for the last time.  Their era of international broadcasting began with experimental transmitters at two different locations in Denmark, it spanned three quarters of a century, and then ended with the use of transmitters at two different locations in a neighboring Scandinavian country. 

Our opening feature in Wavescan this week, and next week also, will honor the memory of Radio Denmark, and on this occasion, we look at the very early story of local radio broadcasting in Denmark.

Actually, the first wireless stations in Denmark, fixed and mobile, were installed in several regional areas throughout their country in the era just before the commencement of World War I.  The fixed spark wireless stations were installed in Copenhagen and in half a dozen country locations, and were on the air for maritime and national communication.  The mobile stations were installed on ships and were established for maritime communication and to act as navigational beacons for nearby shipping.  

The original callsigns for these early wireless station were single or double letters, usually an easy to understand abbreviation for the location of the station.  When callsigns were regularized, these were allocated in a three letter sequence beginning with OXA.

The first experimental radio broadcast in Denmark took place on October 29, 1922, more than 80 years ago.  On this special occasion, the program was broadcast from a communication transmitter on board a ship in the harbor at Copenhagen, and the receiver was installed in a lecture hall in downtown Copenhagen. 

From this single and simple event has grown the entire broadcasting industry in Denmark which is on the air now from more than 100 local transmitters.  These government and commercial stations are on the air almost entirely in the FM band.  However, there are still two units on the air in the standard mediumwave and longwave bands, and these can be heard on 243 kHz with 300 kw and on 1062 kHz with 250 kw for nationwide coverage and spill-over coverage into neighboring countries.

During the following year after the inaugural single event transmission, two radio transmitters took to the air with radio programming.  One was a radio station operated by a local radio club, and the other was a military transmitter that was diverted part time for broadcast usage.  As was stated at the time, these two stations provided listeners with public information and music concerts.

Two years later again, the Danish government took over all radio broadcasting throughout their country, and this was organised as the Danish state broadcasting service.  The inaugural date was April 1, 1925.  When callsigns were regularized, the identification for the main station in Copenhagen was OXQ, with a similar range of callsigns for the network relay stations in country areas.
In the early era these stations were on the air in the lower end of the mediumwave band, and also in what has become the European longwave band.  During the war, radio programming was under the Ministry of Education, and the technical facilities were under the control of the Department of Public Works.

As far as QSL cards are concerned in the early years, the radio station in Denmark was quite reliable in responding to reception reports from listeners.  Even though the power output of their stations was quite low, they were heard at times at great distances throughout Europe and even in North America.  These days, these old QSL cards are valued collector's items.

That was Part I in our two part series honoring the long history of radio broadcasting in Denmark, and in our program next week you will hear the story of shortwave broadcasting in Denmark.