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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 501, August 8, 2004

Andorra - A Small Radio Station in a Small Country

The European country of Andorra lies hidden, high up in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain.  This small country of less than 200 square miles is one of the smallest in the world, with a population of less than 70,000.  Ninety percent of their national economy comes from tourism.

The official language in Andorra is Catalan; there are two postal systems, French and Spanish; and two school systems, again French and Spanish.  On the radio scene in earlier years, there were also two radio stations, French and Spanish, though the control of each was actually centered in Andorra itself.

Construction work on the first radio station in Andorra began in mid 1937 at two different locations, a four story studio and office building in the small city, La Vella, and a transmitter building on the edge of town.  Initially, two transmitters were installed at the studio building and these radiated 60 kw. on mediumwave and 25 kw. on shortwave, as they were rated in those days.   

The new Radio Andorra was established as a commercial venture and the first broadcast was aired on August 7, 1939.  However, due to some problem, apparently technical, the station was off the air for some months and broadcasting was not resumed until February in the following year. 

The official history of Radio Andorra states that they were on the air much of the time during the war, and the first postwar report states that they were heard in Australia on 5995 kHz.  At this stage, they endeavoured to obtain adequate commercial advertising through the franchise of advertising agencies in different countries, but one of the major problems was difficult coverage in target areas due to the mountainous terrain in Andorra itself.

In 1959 a new shortwave transmitter at 1 kw. was installed and this was heard at times in New Zealand.  The famous 3.5 kw. transmitter was inaugurated in 1975 and this was heard throughout Europe and in North America and the South Pacific.

It was in 1980 that Adventist World Radio procured two Collins transmitters at 10 kw. from Radio Free Europe in Germany and had them installed in the ornate transmitter building in Andorra.  During the test phase, AWR was on the air from Radio Andorra with two transmitters in parallel, 3.5 kw. on 6215 kHz and 10 kw. on either 9370 or 15030 kHz.  World Music Radio from Amsterdam and Scandinavian Radio were also on the air from Radio Andorra at this stage.

There was also another shortwave station located in Andorra and this went on the air with a 1 kw. transmitter as Andorradio in 1960.  A new identification as Radio La Vella was introduced during the following year, and five years later again it became the more familiar Radio Sud.  They inaugurated a 25 kw. shortwave transmitter in 1967.

Changing political circumstances and international relations with their two big neighbours brought about the final closure of both stations, the Spanish Radio Andorra and the French Radio Sud, shortly after 1900 UTC on Friday April 2, 1982.  Thus, after more than 40 years of on air activity, shortwave broadcasting from Andorra ultimately came to an abrupt end.

These days the only form of radio broadcasting in Andorra is on FM, and there are now nearly 20 stations on the air.  These are locally owned stations with locally produced programming, as well as downlink relay stations with programming from France and Spain.  However, it is still possible to obtain a genuine QSL card from Andorra, that is, if you are ever in a nearby area where you can pick up one of their main FM stations.

Over the years, Andorra has been on the air mediumwave and shortwave from two different stations at two different locations, with a power  output on mediumwave up to 900 kw., and on shortwave with six different transmitters at 1 kw., 3.5 kw., 10 kw. and 25 kw.  Relay services have been conducted by Radio Andorra on behalf of World Music Radio, Scandinavian Radio, and Adventist World Radio.

All five organizations have issued QSL cards, and we are holding ten different cards issued by Radio Andorra, Sud Radio, and Adventist World Radio.  The best known card from Radio Andorra is an oversized card featuring two young people in national costume, with the mountains and antenna towers in the background.  The card from Sud Radio is a text card with their logo in red.

Some years ago, Heinz Haring in Austria visited Andorra and he had his photo taken in front of the Radio Andorra sign, very similar to the QSL card that was issued by Adventist World Radio.