Station Profile - Medium wave in Hessen

Written by Stefan Greve

From SWR to HR

The "Südwestdeutsche Rundfunkdienst AG" started broadcasting from Frankfurt on March 30, 1924.
At first, a 0.25 kW-transmitter on 638 kHz was used. In 1926, the 1.5 kW-transmitter Frankfurt-Heiligenstock took over. The frequency changed from 700 kHz to 712 kHz in 1929 and to 770 kHz in 1930.
On October 28, 1932, a new 17 kW transmitter went on air. The frequency was switched with Leipzig, so Frankfurt now used 1157 kHz.

With the new frequency plan of 1934, the new "Station Reichssender Frankfurt" moved to 1195 kHz. In the mid-1930 a wooden tower (formerly in Mühlacker) replaced the T-antenna and the power was raised to 25 kW.
Frankfurt shared its frequency with several lower power stations: Kassel (1933-45), Kaiserslautern (1934-36), Freiburg (1934-39), Trier (1934-45), and Koblenz (1935-44). Sometimes 1195 kHz was labeled "Südwestdeutsche Gleichwelle".
On March 25, 1945, the station was completely destroyed.

Radio Frankfurt returned to air under American control on June 1, 1945. (For several month a provisorial studio in Bad Nauheim was used.)
On January 28, 1949, the station was put under German control and renamed "Hessischer Rundfunk".

The Heiligenstock transmitter returned to air on 1195 kHz with 60 kW on August 23, 1947. Until then, only provisorial transmitters with 1 kW, later 20 kW, were used.
But on September 1, 1949, Frankfurt lost its wave to the new VOA station in München. Even though the power was raised to 100 kW, the new frequency 1438 kHz could not cover all parts of Hessen.
(From December 27, 1947 to circa 1953, also a small shortwave transmitter on 6190 kHz was in use.)

The Copenhagen plan became effective in 1950, but none of the two frequencies scheduled for the American zone (989 and 1602 kHz) were available for Frankfurt. Since the new medium wave transmitter of Radio Luxembourg was not on air yet, 1439 kHz remained temporarily available.
A directed antenna with four masts allowed the use of 593 kHz (screened towards Sofia and Sundsvall) since 1951.

A new transmitter in Rodgau-Weiskirchen replaced Heiligenstock on September 18, 1967. Soon the power was raised from 150 to 400 kW, and in the mid-1970s to 950 kW.
The Geneva waveplan (effective in 1978) allowed 800 kW on 594 kHz, screened day and night towards Sweden (10-20°) and Bulgaria (110-130°).
Until 1994, the power was 1000 kW directed or 400 kW non-directed (after midnight, when Bulgaria was off air). Then the power was reduced to 300 kW.
Today it's with 250 kW one of the strongest mediumwave stations in Germany.


The Northern Relay

Soon after the start of the Frankfurt station, an additional transmitter for the northern part of Hessen became necessary. It went on air in Kassel on January 25, 1925, with 0.25 kW (raised to 0.5 kW in 1932). It used various international common waves (1100, 1190, 1200, 1220 kHz) until it was synchronized with Frankfurt on 1157 kHz and later 1195 kHz.
An air raid damaged the it on October 22, 1943, but the station was soon repaired and remained active until the Frankfurt transmitter was silenced.

After the war Kassel used 1267 kHz and switched to 1402 kHz in 1949, 1439 kHz in 1950 and 1594 kHz in 1951.

Because of the loss of 1195 kHz, a stronger transmitter was needed. Fritzlar (5 kW) started on 1258 kHz in 1949 and switched to 917 kHz in 1950.

Finally, the new transmitter Hoher Meißner started on June 20, 1952, replacing both Kassel and Fritzlar. It used 593 kHz with 20 kW and had to be screened towards Sofia and Sundsvall too. The power was raised to 100 kW in 1968, and in the 1970s to 90s, sometimes up to 250 kW was used. Today it is still active with 90 kW.
According to Geneva wave plan, the power on 594 kHz was 100 kW, day and night screened (0-50°).

In Geneva, also two new filling stations, Fulda and Marburg, were scheduled (both with 1 kW on 1485 kHz), but these plans never became reality.


AFN Frankfurt

The AFN in Frankfurt first used 1411 kHz with 1 kW, later 10 kW. Circa 1948 it changed to 601 kHz and in 1950 to 593 kHz. When this frequency was given to Hessischer Rundfunk, AFN switched to 935 kHz.

A 150 kW-transmitter in Oberursel-Weißkirchen on 872 kHz (directed) took over in 1951. Since 1978 the frequency is 873 kHz (screened towards 40-80°).

Several low power transmitters in Hessen (and more in other states) relayed the programme:
Darmstadt (0.35 kW) 1268 kHz (1950), 1223 kHz (1950)
Eschwege (0.35 kW) 1169 kHz (1950), 1223 kHz (1951-52)
Fulda (0.25 kW) 854 kHz (1951-53), 1304 kHz (1955-78), 1143 kHz (since 1978)
Gießen (0.35 kW) 5470 kHz (1951), 1223 kHz (1951), 1502 kHz (1952-78), 1143 kHz (since 1978), still active
Bad Hersfeld (0.25 kW) 1034 kHz (1950), 1142 kHz (1953-78), 1143 kHz (since 1978)
Kassel (0.25 kW) 1034 kHz (1951-59)
Kassel-Rothwesten (0.05-0.25 kW) 1502 kHz (1959-78), (0.25 kW) 1485 kHz (1978)
Marburg (0.35 kW) 1502 kHz (1950)
Wetzlar (0.35 kW) 854 kHz (1950)
Wiesbaden (0.35 kW) 998 kHz (1950)
(Years are approximate.)

From circa 1947 to 1957 AFN also used a shortwave transmitter.

From the 1950s to 1990s, American propaganda stations also broadcasted from Hessen. Sites were Biblis for "Radio Free Europe" and Lampertheim for "Radio Liberty", both with several shortwave transmitters with up to 100 kW.