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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 481, March 21, 2004

Albania on the Air Shortwave

Albania is a small mountainous country on the western edge of the Balkan Peninsula in southeastern Europe.  This country is a little over 200 miles long and a little less than 100 miles wide, with a total area of 11,000 square miles.  The largest city in Albania is Tirana which is also their capital and it is located almost in the center of their country.

The total population of Albania is around four million and the national language is Albanian which is spoken with two major dialects, Gheg in the north and Tosk in the south.  They celebrate the date of their independence as November 28, 1912. 

Their national flag is red with a black two-headed eagle.  Interestingly, the name for Albania in their own language is Shqiperi, which means the "Land of the Eagle."

The first settlers in Albania were the Illyrians, an Indo-European people who moved in from the east about 1,000 BC.  Throughout the centuries since that time, many different ethnic peoples have swept through the area, leaving their mark on the historical and cultural development of the country and the language.  These days, about half a million tourists visit Albania every year.

Construction on the first radio facility in Albania began in the year 1938 and it was established to serve three different purposes; local entertainment and information, international broadcasting, and international radio communication.  On mediumwave, this new station was listed for 1384 kHz, and on shortwave it was on the air with broadcast programming and international communication in Morse Code under the callsign ZAA.

The new ZAA was a 3 kw. facility located on the edge of Tirana in Albania and it was first heard in Australia with test broadcasts on February 1, 1939.  The test programming was noted on 6090 kHz in the 49 metre band and announcements were given in five languages: Albanian, English, French, German, Italian.  Frequent identification was given as ìRadio Experimental, Tirana, Albania.î

Several different channels in the 31  41 and 49 metre bands were also noted around that era.  Station ZAA was also heard on the air with communications in Morse Code with station IAC in Italy.

The new shortwave broadcasting station ZAA in Albania was heard periodically over the next few months with regular programming, but in July it was noted closing with the Italian National Anthem.  During the Italian occupation, the original Albanian callsign was retained.  However, with the changing events in continental Europe we find that the last logging of this station during this era was reported in an Australian radio magazine for September 1940.

In February 1946, the broadcasting service from shortwave station ZAA was again heard in Australia and New Zealand.  Three years later again, new studios and offices were built for the national radio service in downtown Tirana.
During the era of Chinese friendship, Radio Tirana was noted on relay to the United States via Radio Peking, usually on two channels in parallel, and Radio Peking was heard in Europe via a high powered mediumwave station in Albania.  During this same era, two new highpowered shortwave stations were also built for Radio Tirana. 

In addition, Radio Tirana has been on the air from five different regional locations throughout their country.  These days, though, their shortwave facilities are consolidated at just two locations, Cerrik and Shijak, and they can be heard worldwide quite readily.

In 1992, Trans World Radio took out a relay of their programming over the high powered mediumwave station at Filake, and this was followed shortly afterwards with the usage of their shortwave facilities also.

The first known QSLs from Radio Tirana were carbon copy letters, though in the 1960s cards were printed that feature peasant art.  These days, colorful QSL cards are available from Radio Tirana in Albania.