Station Profile - Medium wave in Thüringen

Written by Stefan Greve

Landessender Weimar

Until the end of the war, there was no radio station in Thüringen. The area was covered by Leipzig.

The Soviet Military Administration allowed five new regional stations ("Landessender") for January 1, 1946.
Actually, the Landessender Weimar started broadcasting on November 15, 1945. The station used a former police transmitter at Weimar-Belvedere, the power was only 0.3 kW.
Since February 15, 1946, the former frequency of Königsberg (1031 kHz) was used.

Initially Weimar produced only a few regional broadcasts and mainly relayed the programme of Berliner Rundfunk. But a tape archive of the former Reichsrundfunk had been moved to Weimar. Also, the transmitter Leipzig-Wiederau had returned to air, but the studio was not ready yet. So Weimar could use the 120 kW transmitter on 782 kHz for a while.

On September 1, 1946, "Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk" started to broadcast, and Landessender Weimar now relayed the new programme from Leipzig.

For the regional programme a new 20 kW transmitter was purchased. Though located at the northern outskirts of Erfurt, this transmitter was often listed as Weimar. It went on air on December 6, 1947, on 1031 kHz.
Erfurt replaced Weimar as capital of Thüringen in 1947, but the station remained "Landessender Weimar".
An additional studio in Erfurt was opened on July 15, 1949.

When the Copenhagen plan became effective on March 15, 1950, Weimar temporarily went off air. The scheduled frequency 1570 kHz was not used. Instead, on April 8, Weimar-Belvedere was reactivated on international common wave 1484 kHz.
The 20 kW-transmitter followed on August 1, using 1061 kHz.

On October 7, 1950, a relay transmitter for the southwestern part of Thüringen went on air with 0.03 kW. It was listed as Hildburghausen or Schleusingen.
Circa 1951, both Erfurt and Hildburghausen switched to 800 kHz.

From Weimar to Erfurt and back

In 1952 the five states (Länder) of the GDR where replaced by 14 districts (Bezirke). Thüringen was split into Bezirk Erfurt, Bezirk Gera and Bezirk Suhl.
On September 14 three central programmes started, while the regional stations ceased broadcasting. In Thüringen, 800 kHz now carried "Berlin I", while "Berlin II" could be heard on longwave (Königswusterhausen 185 kHz), and Leipzig-Wiederau (1043 kHz) provided "Berlin III".
The studio at Weimar was closed. Along with Erfurt, two new studios in Gera and Suhl had to be build.

After almost a year, regional broadcasts returned.
For up to 90 minutes in the evening, 800 kHz was used by the three studios, usually together.

In 1954, Erfurt (now on 858 kHz) carried "Berlin 2. Programm", while Schleusingen carried "Berlin 1. Programm" on 688 kHz.
In 1955, the new programme "Radio DDR" was on both 858 kHz (Erfurt) and 688 kHz (now Suhl-Wachenbrunn, with 5 or 20 kW).
On September 15, 1955, the bigger studio in Weimar replaced Erfurt.
Studio Suhl had a seperate programme via Wachenbrunn, while Weimar used both transmitters. The programme from Gera briefly used the new 250 kW-transmitter Dresden-Wilsdruff (1043 kHz) and since 1956 the transmitter Karl-Marx-Stadt (Chemnitz) on 602 kHz.

In 1957 the frequency of Erfurt was changed to 692 kHz, Wachenbrunn switched to 1052 kHz.
On October 7, 1959 a new 250 kW-transmitter went on air in Wachenbrunn, directed to the south of West Germany. It relayed "Deutschlandsender" on 692 kHz. Erfurt switched to 629 kHz.

Regional broadcasts on mediumwave ended in 1963. Since 1964 "Radio DDR - Sender Weimar" (with Studios Gera and Suhl) used the transmitters of the second (FM only) programme of Radio DDR for five hours in the morning.

West German lists since about 1967 also included a station "Meiningen" with 20 kW on 683 kHz. Most likely, this was an additional transmitter in Wachenbrunn to jam RIAS.

Technical changes

In the early 1970s the Erfurt transmitter was switched off.
Wachenbrunn now carried "Stimme der DDR" (since November 15, 1971, formerly Deutschlandsender) on 692 kHz with 250 kW, "Radio DDR 1" on 629 kHz with 20 kW and "Berliner Rundfunk" on 1052 kHz with 5 kW.
The new transmitter Keula in the northwest oft Thüringen also carried "Radio DDR 1" on 557 kHz with 5 kW.

According to Geneva Wave Plan, all frequencies had to be changed:
882 kHz:     Wachenbrunn (250 kW, directed 40°)
999 kHz:     Wachenbrunn (20 kW)
1170 kHz:     Erfurt (20 kW)
1485 kHz:     Erfurt, Sonneberg, Worbis-Keula (1 kW)
1584 kHz:     Bad Salzungen, Nordhausen, Schleiz (1 kW)
1602 kHz:    Worbis-Keula (1 kW)

When the plan became effective in 1978, it was already changed:
Wachenbrunn (250 kW) now carried Radio DDR 1 on 1044 kHz (synchronized with Burg and Wilsdruff), the other transmitters where used by Berliner Rundfunk. Additional to the 20 kW-transmitters Erfurt (999 kHz) and Wachenbrunn (1431 kHz), two 5 kW-transmitter in Keula and Weida used 1575 kHz.
(Contemporary lists did not contain the 1 kW-transmitters.)

In the mid-1980s, Wachenbrunn (250 kW) switched to the scheduled 882 kHz and carried "Stimme der DDR" again. Keula switched 1170 kHz, Weida to 1431 kHz (Erfurt and Wachenbrunn II remained unchanged).
Berliner Rundfunk was also on 1584 kHz (Eisenach, Rudolstadt) and on 1602 kHz (Gotha, Saalfeld). Radio DDR 1 used 1485 kHz (Erfurt, Sonneberg) as well as 1602 kHz (Heiligenstadt).

Political changes

In 1990 Thüringen was restored as a federal state. "Radio DDR - Sender Weimar" became "Thüringer Rundfunk". Along with the FM network of Radio DDR 2, Weimar used the transmitters Erfurt (1089 kHz, 20 kW) and Keula (1170 kHz, 5 kW), Gera was carried by Weida (1458 kHz, 5 kW), while the 250 kW-transmitter on 882 kHz (probably with reduced power) was used by Suhl's regional studio.

Radio DDR 1 was renamed "Radio Aktuell" and used Wachenbrunn (1431 kHz, 20 kW), Sonneberg (1485 kHz, 1 kW) and Heiligenstadt (1602 kHz, 1 kW), but left the mediumwave on May 27, 1991.

With the beginning of 1992, Thüringer Rundfunk, Sachsenradio and Radio Sachsen-Anhalt are merged into "Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk". The regional programme "MDR Radio Thüringen" left the mediumwave, only the Weida transmitter remained active until 1993.
(Later, the main studio was moved from Weimar to Erfurt again.)

Wachenbrunn (882 kHz) carried "MDR Info", the power was reduced to 20 kW.

The Radio Moskva relay station

Since the late 1940s, the Soviet Union used a transmitter at Leipzig-Wiederau for the Foreign Service. In the Geneva Wave Plan, it was planned to replace it by a stronger station in Nauen (near Berlin).
Actually, in late summer 1989, the transmitter went on air on 1323 kHz, with the planned 1000 kW at day and 150 kW at night. However, instead of Nauen, the station was located near the existing transmitter site in Wachenbrunn. It uses 4 masts for directed transmissions, usually towards the west or south west.

The station survived the political changes.

Today, the two transmitters at Wachenbrunn (Voice of Russia on 1323 kHz and MDR Info on 882 kHz) are the only remaining mediumwave stations in Thüringen.