First broadcast in Sweden

The Radio Bunker in Boden, Sweden, 21 August 2009

This creepy building is in fact a historical radio monument in Sweden. From this site the first public radio programmes were broadcasted. The building is called the Radio Bunker and it was built during the WWI in 1916. It is surrounded by huge mountain fortresses far up in northern Sweden close to the town Boden. Still in the 1970´s this town was forbidden to visit by foreigners and the fortresses were kept secret. Today only one fortress is in use, now as a museum. This ugly looking radio monument is still covered with barbwire and sadly to say, money is lacking to restore it.

The first Radio Bunker crew in 1916 - Photo in the publication "Först i etern", 1995

This is Boden Radio´s radio operations crew in 1916 when the bombing safe Radio Bunker was ready to send and receive telegrams by sparking Morse code. Two Telefunken spark generator transmitters were used, 16 and 4 kW. The antennas were two 80 m long cage antennas supported by three 108 m masts. No mains power was available at that time. Instead a very big 800 Ah battery was used. The receivers were two crystal sets. On December 30, 1916 a first radio contact with Stockholm was tried. The wavelength was 2,500 m and the distance 800 km. Stockholm had a good reception, but Boden Radio could not receive signals from Stockholm.

Inside the Radio Bunker with the Erich F Huth telephony 1 kW transmitter 
Photo in the publication "Först i etern", 1995

In beginning of 1920 rumors reached Boden that something called broadcasting had started in USA. In June 1920 in England the first radio programme was broadcasted by the Marconi company. In Sweden it all started one year later, in June 1921 in Boden. Boden Radio had this month installed its first telephony 1 kW transmitter made by the German company Erich F Huth. In the nearby city Luleå it was a an ongoing expo celebrating 300 years since city birth. A funnel gramophone was handed over to the Radio Bunker. The funnel was replaced by one made of paper and placed close to the transmitter´s microphone. See photo above. From July 3 expo visitors could then listen to gramophone records being played in the bunker and transmitted on 2,450 m wavelength. On July 12 Gustaf V, the Swedish king, was there too and listened. This was the debut of Swedish broadcasting!

The loudspeaker was not yet invented - Photo SVT Bild in "Kampen om monopolet", Prisma 1998

The interest in listening to radio programmes grew very quick. So quick that the government, as usual, in 1925 established a state owned company for programme production and letting the post & telegraphy administration handling both the studios and transmitters.

First radio speech by King Gustaf V in 1926
Photo SVT Bild in "Kampen om monopolet", Prisma 1998

In 1926 King Gustaf V made his first radio appearance, this time in Stockholm. What a nice looking performer, dressed in a light opera style  uniform and a helmet with feathers on top! For beauty reasons the microphone was hidden in the flags in front of him. Because of the microphone distance he surely must have been shouting when performing his speech!

Update 28 March, 2011

I got an e-mail from Kjell, SM2AZH. He told me that the Huth telephony transmitter was of 1  kW brand and not 250 W. In 1958 the Boden Radio bunker became unmanned. Kjell also told me that he in 1963 worked at Boden Radio/SAI as a summer holiday-employee as a radio telegrapher. He is now very much involved in the process of restoring the bunker. On July 12 it is 90 years since the very first Swedish first broadcast transmission took place from the bunker. It will be a special celebration at the Defence Museum, Boden on that day.

On March 26 I visited the Defence Museum, Boden and listened to Bengt Lundberg and his interesting speech about the first official broadcast transmission in Sweden from the Radio bunker in Boden. Bengt is a former colleague of mine and he, like Kjell, is very much involved in the restoration process.