Litomysl transmitter site in 2008

Litomysl transmitter site

One of my clients has a long established jumelage with the city of Litomysl in Czechia. From time to time, there are events in which they exchange knowledge. On one of these visits, I was asked to come along and present some aspects of my work with EU funds.

A quick internet search showed that Litomysl (Litomyšl, actually) is the birthplace of the composer Smetana and also place of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Litomyšl Castle.

I can tell you that indeed it’s a delightful little town with everything you’d expect from a town on the Czech country side. It’s well worth a visit if you have the opportunity.

Yet, Litomysl sounded familiar from something else somehow, and I soon found out that the shortwave and medium wave transmitters of Czech Radio used were based there. They broadcast Radio Prague, and a bit longer ago (80s) the Interradio programme: a programme for ‘holidaymakers’ (and everybody else who tuned in, also Czechoslovakian citizens) with Western popmusic, with newsbulletins in many languages every 15 minutes.

Exercept from WRTH 1990, p. 67

It sounded perfect to take a few pictures from the outside. The business partners of my client did not want to have anything of it, and they arranged an exclusive visit to this site!

The site went off-air in 2011 and therefore the pictures are historic, in a sense. That is why I am publishing them here. The visit took place on 12 September, 2008.

Transmitter room

Overview of the main transmitter room.

The main stay of the station were various Tesla KRV120 transmitters. They were capable of putting out 100 kW. If they ran like that at the end, I somehow doubt. They were old beasts!

A look inside.

It looked like the whole station was running on its last legs if you look at the panels, compressors, replaced devices and frequency counters.

I spotted a Schomandl frequency decade and many other interesting devices such as lineair amps. Sadly, I cannot remember what they used the 666 kHz frequency generator for. As far as I can recall, 666 kHz was never assigned to Czechoslovakia or Czechia.

A common feature at so many transmitter sties around that time: a DRM-capable Telefunken TRAM10 transmitter. It was off at the time.

Antennas

The antenna park perhaps wasn’t quite as big as some other stations, but nonetheless impressive.

Main masts for mediumwave, re-used for mobile telephony.

The antenna field for shortwave.

Antenna feedthrough across the building, and a few pictures of the impressive looking antenna switches (unfortunately I could not be seen on the inside as the transmitters were on the air at the time of the visit).

Now that’s a coaxial cable!

More background information - update April 2019

In March 2019, I had a lengthy conversation with Jonathan Marks, the former editor of the Media Network programme of Radio Netherlands. He told me about an in-depth interview that he had with Oldrich Cip (known as Peter Skala on the air), as well as some specials on Radio Prague of Media Network in the 1980s and 90s.

Many of the old Media Network programmes are archived in the Media Network Vintage Vault, and these are the three best programmes that feature Radio Prague:

Media Network 18 August 1988 - Radio Prague between 1945 and 1968

Media Network 25 April 1991 - an interview with Oldrich Cip, with some details on the transmitters sites of Radio Prague

Media Network 14 April 1983 - on those Radio Prague clips OMD used on their Dazzle Ships LP

I thought that this was worth adding for those interested in the history of Radio Prague.

Conclusion and thoughts

As a last picture, of course, a portrait as a memory to this visit. I did not write down who showed me around (it was the Chief Engineer and his Assistant), but I think they will forgive me for publishing their pictures on the web like this.

It’s only 10 years ago, but it was clear that shortwave was a fading technology, no longer relevant in an ever more connected world. Radio Prague is still around, and you can even hear it on shortwave if you really wanted. As far as I can see, the programming that Radio Prague puts out is a relevant service for those who take a particular interest in the country.

If you like this overview, don’t hesitate to take a look here to see some over the other sites I have photographed over the years.

All pictures are available in full resolution here:

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Wian Stienstra
ICT, Strategy, Marketing and More

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