Station Profile - Burg 261 kHz

Written by Hansjörg Biener
Translated by Herman Boel

Radio Wolga

An Army station for the troops in the west

Radio WolgaAt the 1948 frequency conference in Danish Kopenhagen no long wave frequency was given to either one of the occupation forces in Germany. Still, the Soviets used long wave for their army station. The soldiers were used to listening to long wave, as all 15 available long wave frequencies were in use in their home country. Radio Wolga was inaugurated in 1945 to serve the Soviet troops stationed first in occupied Berlin, and later in the DDR. The station's headquarters probably was Menzelstraße 5 in Potsdam from the beginning. Later Radio Wolga broadcasted from Königs Wusterhausen. As of July 1945 a 2.5 kW low power transmitter was used on 283 kHz, which was upgraded to 20 kW in 1948. In 1946 a new 100 kW transmitter was temporarily used on 191 kHz. In 1952 this transmitter started relaying the regular Radio Wolga broadcasts after Deutschlandsender had received a new broadcasting installation.

For a very long time Radio Wolga did not reply to reception reports. In the 1990s the station became more DXer-friendly and sent out QSL cards for reports that were accompanied by return postage. One could expect a QSL letter, schedule and station information within the week after sending a correct report.

In the 1960s the 200 kW long wave station in Burg near Magdeburg became active. The long wave transmitter was hooked to an antenna of 350 meter but it collapsed in 1976. As of then durability tests were required. The transmitter is linked to an antenna on a mast of 210 mtrs that was installed at the same time as the transmitter itself.

For decades Radio Wolga reached more than 500,000 Soviet soldiers. It broadcasted the programmes of the Russian state radio, the German programme of Radio Moskau and also own programmes for a few hours every evening.

When the Russian troops had left, the 30 programme makers sought out new listeners and found them among the German people. Reviewing this decision, the people responsible for Radio Wolga believed they had taken this decision too late. As of 6 October 1991 the station focused onto German listeners with 6 hours of programming per week at the end of the station's life: "The main wish for the German editorial team was to inform the German people on the events and daily life of the Russian army troops, about the planned departure to the home country that had been organised in collaboration with the German institutes." It was important to inform German listeners on the departure of Russian troops. The success of the neo-nationalist Wladimir Schirinowski at the Russian parliamentary election had upset many governments whose countries still hosted Russian troops, and it seemed that many people from the troups in the west had voted for the Russian nationalist.

Lease of airing time to RadioRopa-Info

In 1992 Radio Wolga ceased the relay of the foreign broadcast from Radio Moscow and started leasing airtime. One could buy both time for commercials in the German and Russian broadcasts and longer transmission blocks.
As of mid-1992 the private news station RadioRopa-Info first broadcasted six, and later up to eleven hours daily, which meant a terrestrial frequency next to the satellite and cable frequencies it already occupied. Thanks to the longwave 261 mainly the former East German Bundesländer were reached which enlarged the technical coverage area. The main condition of course was the availability of radio sets capable of tuning long wave. But the number of these sets was declining. The German broascast of Radio Wolga was transmitted from Sunday to Friday just before RadioRopa-Info's noon programme and therefore tried to reach listeneres who were too early to tune into RadioRopa-Info.

The end of Radio Wolga

On 31 July 1994 Radio Wolga ceased broadcasting after 49 years. It tried to have RadioRopa-Info take over the installation. However, when no agreement had been reached after a while, the transmitter was switched off. Finally an agreement was reached and the transmitter power was reduced to 80-90 kW.

folding card RadioRopa
Extract from a folding card with which Radio Ropa 1994 confirmed reception reports.
The frequency list and coverage map show the large expansion of the news broadcaster.

Radio Ropa

"Germany's first private news broadcaster"

Radio Ropa-Info started in 1990 as a news oriented satellite broadcaster located in Daun in Rheinland-Pfalz. As the regional government no longer allowed the station to continue using support FM frequencies, the Daun programme was given up. In 1996 the station moved to Leipzig as it did have frequencies in Sachsen. The Sachsen programme was first also relayed via long wave.

Unfortunately radio receivers were no longer standardly equipped with long wave. Therefore RadioRopa launched the single frequency receiver FX-10 onto the market that could be purchased for only 20 German Marks (€ 12.50) shipment inclusive.

At the end of October 1996 a new 50 kW long wave transmitter was delivered. The transmitter was mounted in a container next to the 324 mtr high antenna that had previously been used for medium wave transmissions. As of 16 December 1996 RadioRopa used this transmitter from 05.00-22.00h. The reception of the station was quite well on both sides of the cover area "East-North" and up to the Alps.

New format of the long wave broadcasts by totally relaying foreign services in German

By splitting up the station in Radio Ropa 261 on the one hand and a newly formatted Radio Ropa Sachsen on the other hand, the station wanted to become more financially healthy. In 1998 the programme received a new format. On 29 January 1998 a test transmission started by Radio Ropa 2-6-1 on long wave and via Astra Digital Radio Transponder 6,66 MHz. On 1 March 1998 official broadcasts started with a mixture of own programmes and relays of foreign services in German such as of BBC London, Radio France Internationale, Radio Finland, and Radio Austria International. The own programmes lasted 6 to 7 hours and were produced in cooperation with the news agency ADN in Magdeburg. Its contribution was sent via ISDN to Luxembourg where it was made available to the public via Astra Digital Radio and long wave.

The end of Radio Ropa 2 6 1

On 31 December 2000 transmissions ended. Station Manager Marcus Körner said this was due to not succeeding in getting FM frequencies. Only broadcasting via long wave and Astra-Digital-Radio was economically not healthy for the station. It seemed the move to Sachsen-Anhalt was the biggest mistake made.