This is the International Section of
The Broadcast Archive

Maintained by:
Barry Mishkind - The Eclectic Engineer
Last Update 8/20/02

Finnish Broadcasting:

  • History
  • Regulation
  • Station Identifications

Finnish Broadcast History:

Finland was one of the pioneering countries in radio, as Russian scientist Alexander Popov experimented in year 1900 with his equipment in archipelago near Kotka, Finland, then a part of Russian Empire.

Broadcasting began in Finland in 1923 in Tampere by a veteran radio amateur Mr. Arvi Hauvonen. His station Tampereen Radio (Radio of Tampere) operated 1923-1930, with power of 10 - 150 watts.

Pioneer broadcasting stations

Tampere - Tampere Radio Society 1923-1930
Helsinki - Army Signal Batallion 1923-1930
Helsinki - Radiola 1924
Helsinki - Finnish Home Guard 1925-1926 (500 W transmitter was purchased
from USA in 1923)
Hanko - Hanko Bisquit Factory Radio 1924-1925
Rauma - Rauma Radio Club 1924-1927
Jyväskylä - Radio Society of Central Finland 1925-1927
Pori - Pori Radio Society 1925-1927
Mikkeli - Mikkeli Radio Society 1925-1928
Lahti - Lahti Radio Hobbyists 1925-1927
Viipuri - Viipuri Radio Society 1926-1928
Turku - Radio Society of Turku 1926-1935 (500 W transmitter was purchased
from Sweden)
Pietarsaari - Radio Society of Central Botnia 1926-1935
Kuopio - irregular transmissions in winter 1926-1927

The National Broadcasting Company, called Yleisradio (General Broadcaster) was
founded in 1926. The first transmissions were sent from the Home Guard radio station, later from Army Signal Batallion station, both in Helsinki.

Radio clubs and societies all over the Finland began to relay Yleisradio programmes, but the quality of reception was far from satisfactory. The reception problem was solved by building a big 25 kW station in Lahti in 1928, designed by German Telefunken. By 1929 power was increased to 40 kW. Meanwhile, Yleisradio built a chain of transmitters in the largest cities: 1930 - Helsinki 10 kW; 1931 - Viipuri 10 kW; 1931 - Oulu 1 kW; 1931 -  Tampere 1 kW; 1933 - Pori 1 kW; 1934 - Sortavala 0.25 kW.

By the year 1935 all the equipment of the remaining private radio clubs were purchased by Yleisradio. From 1929-1933 Lahti used 167 kHz. In 1934 in Geneve the frequency was corrected to 166 kHz despite French attempts to "kidnap" that frequency for Paris.

Since 1935 Lahti has had an unfortunate neighbor - the strongest station of the world - 500 kW Moscow Komintern on 172 kHz. Lahti was jammed by Moscow as soon as the "Winter War" began. In 1939 before the war the power of Yleisradio network had been increased on every station so that Lahti was using 150 kW, Turku 40 kW, and Viipuri 20 kW. Since 1943 Kuopio has used 30 kW, and Rovaniemi, where German troops had founded their own station and broadcast in Finnish too, joined the network with 15 kW station.

Occasionally the Russian propaganda in Finnish and Finnish programme from Helsinki fought their own war on dial around the frequency of Lahti as furiously as the men in the front. In Lahti there was assembled a system that changed the frequency as soon as the counter-programme was detected, but on the frontline the effect wasn't welcomed, because the signal faded too much. (After the war Russian delegation arrived and demanded to know how the change from nominal frequency was made possible. When they saw the equipment; old phonograph player, a couple of switches and some cables, they didn't want to make any further questions.)

After the war, Finland (as a loser in the war) - had to give up the frequency and Lahti was ordered to share 160 kHz with Romanian Brasov. 166 kHz was allocated to BBC in Ottringham. From 1950 Lahti was thrown to the other end of the dial, to 254 kHz, and there the station operated till it was closed down in 1990's. Masts and buildings have survived. The transmitter building has now a Radio & TV Museum inside.

The Finnish Broadcasting Company ordered four SW transmitters from Marconi in England before 1940 Olympic Games, but due to wartime circumstances, those transmitters as well as Olympic Games were never seen. Instead, Lahti operated on shortwave to North America during all the years of war. The initial English broadcast to North America took place in 1st January 1939, the programme included "Andante Festivo" conducted by Dr. Jean Sibelius, which is the only surviving recording of Sibelius himself playing or conducting an orchestra. The wartime foreign broadcasts were merely newscasts in the most important European languages and in Estonian. The main target audience in North America were the Finnish immigrants and their descendants.

In the archives of the Lahti Radio & TV Museum there are many fascinating reception reports from 1920's to 1940's. Unique, colourful reception report forms from various clubs and individuals make colourful and interesting reading. The farthest-away authentic looking reception appears to have come from the Tufts Radio College Society in Boston, Massachusetts, during the winter 1939-1940. On the other hand, the infamous Ollie Ross, a man who claimed that he had heard every radio station in the world, has gracefully "reported" Lahti on LW in the 1930's, in clear daytime in distant California, on a frequency Lahti has never used, providing details that may fit well into the programming of any station on earth.


Early regulation of broadcasting in Finland:

The current regulatory body is the Viestintävirasto (Tele Administration Office).

Station Identification:

Our sincere appreciation to Jari Lehtinen for his kindness in sharing the information on this page.