This is the International Section of
The Broadcast Archive

Maintained by:
Barry Mishkind - The Eclectic Engineer
Updated: 8/24/01

German Broadcasting:

  • History
  • Regulation
  • Station Identifications

German Broadcast History:

Early broadcast experiments took place in Berlin on Aug. 27 1897. The receiving station was "Matrosenstation Kongnaes" in the Schwanenallee. This was an experiment of Adolf Slaby and Georg Graf von Arco.

Radio had been in use for postal and business purposes (telegrams, news agencies, etc.) since the end of WWI in 1918. The first thing that resembled a radio broadcast could be received on 22 December 1920 when the staff of the station Königs Wusterhausen near Berlin transmitted a concert they performed themselves.

The first station in Germany to regularly broadcast to the public debuted in Berlin on October 23, 1923, running on 750 kHz at 250 Watts.

Nine regional broadcasting companies were set up during 1923/24.

October 29, 1923 - Berlin - Funk-Stunde AG
March 2, 1924 - Leipzig - Mitteldeutsche Rundfunk AG (MIRAG)
March 30, 1924 - München - Deutsche Stunde in Bayern GmbH
April 1, 1924 - Frankfurt am Main - Südwestdeutsche Rundfunkdienst AG (SWR)
May 2, 1924 - Hamburg - Nordische Rundfunk AG (NORAG)
May 11, 1924 - Stuttgart - Süddeutsche Rundfunk AG (SÜRAG)
May 26, 1924 - Breslau (today Wroclaw, Poland)  - Schlesische Funkstunde AG
June 14, 1924 - Königsberg (today Kaliningrad, Russia) - Ostmarken-Rundfunk AG (ORAG)
October 10, 1924 - Münster (later moved to Cologne) - Westdeutsche Funkstunde AG (WEFAG)

Each company operated a main transmitter and several relay transmitters (which were able to opt out and offer local programming as well.) The companies were financed privately but by law the Post Ministry was required to be given at least 51 percent of the shares. Usually, local businessmen provided the capital. In some cases, local governments participated as well.

Although there were commercials and even what we know as sponsorship nowadays, the main source of revenue was a monthly license fee of 2 Reichsmark the Post Ministry cashed in from every registered listener. (Initially, the fee was higher but it soon turned out it was too high for a mass medium.)

Network: On January 7, 1926, Deutsche Welle GmbH launched its programme, transmitted from Berlin on longwave: 182 kHz for all of Germany. The company, which was later renamed Deutschlandsender, is in no way related to today's international broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

International: Experimental shortwave broadcasts were conducted between September 1926 and June 1927. The first international broadcast from Germany was August 26, 1929 on 9560 kHz at 8 kW from Zeesen near Berlin. The station identified as "Deutscher Kurzwellensender" (German Shortwave Transmitter), using the call sign DJA. A programming exchange with the U.S. network NBC was established on December 25, 1929.

By autumn 1932, a second transmitter had been installed and six frequencies were being used.

Frequency Call sign




9560 DJA
11760 DJD
15110 DJL
15200 DJB
17760 DJE

During WWII, it was prohibited for those who were not favorable to the NAZIs to have a radio receiver.  From 1933, propaganda minister Josef Goebbels used the radio as his primary medium (along with the "Wochenschauen" in the cinemas and the centralized press). He introduced the mass production of relative cheap radio sets, the so-called "Volksempfaenger," so that all Germans had access to radio reception in their homes as well at their working places.

The national radio channel was called "Großdeutscher Rundfunk." It was a general service channel with entertainment like operettas and light dancing music beside classical concerts, opera, etc (Hitler was a Wagner fan). Popular America Jazz, Pop and "Swing" music was banned as "Negro music" and found not suitable for the white master race.

Television: Experimental television broadcasts started on November 20, 1928. Still pictures were transmitted by wire to viewing booths in Post Offices. They were scrapped a few months later owing to a lack of public interest. Moving pictures were transmitted on longwave in 1930 at night when radio was off air.


Early regulation of broadcasting

The current regulatory body is the

Station Identification:

In the original Berlin Conference, Germany was allocated call letters of the series A, D, KAA-KCZ. Later (before 1919) TNA-TZZ was added. By 1934, this was reduced to just the D series. 

Today, only the time standard service uses call signs: DCF77 Germany.

I'd like to acknowledge the kind assistance of Peter C Klanowski and Sascha Zimmer in preparing this page.