League of Nations On Air

This article was originally aired over Adventist World Radio’s “Wavescan” program and now forms part of the Radio Heritage Collection ©. All rights reserved to Ragusa Media Group, PO Box 14339, Wellington, New Zealand. This material is licenced on a non-exclusive basis to the South Pacific DX Resource hosted on www.radiodx.com for a period of 5 years from December 1 2003. Author: Adrian Peterson
QSL card courtesy ARDXC, Phil de Costas collection

The League of Nations in many ways was the forerunner of what we know today as the United Nations. The old League of Nations was formed in January 1920 in the aftermath of World War 1 with the intent of avoiding international conflicts and providing peace to the world. The headquarters for the League of Nations was in Geneva, Switzerland.

The first radio broadcast from the League of Nations was presented on an experimental basis and it went on the air in February 1929. The programming was produced in a studio in Geneva and it was fed by landline to the popular international station PCJ in Holland for worldwide dissemination on shortwave.

As a result of the success of the series of broadcasts from radio station PCJ, plans were laid for the construction of a radio station specifically for the broadcast of programming from the League of Nations. This new shortwave station was located at Prangins, near Geneva, and when completed, it contained two shortwave transmitters at 20 kW.

One of these transmitters was obtained from the Marconi company in England and this unit was identified as HBL The other transmitter was made in France and this unit was identified as HBP. In addition, the League of Nations was also on the air part-time from a 50 kW mediumwave transmitter that was owned by Swiss Radio and that was previously installed nearby.

Radio Nations was organised in 1929 and the new shortwave station was opened for communication traffic in February, 1932. Seven months later, Radio Nations was taken into usage for regular program broadcasting with coverage in Europe and North America. Subsequently, additional programming from Radio Nations was beamed to the Far East and Australia.

Initially, the programming format was quite brief, consisting of short 15 minute segments in three or four of the major European languages just once a week on Sundays. However, as time went by, program broadcasting became quite spasmodic, and was actually deleted for a period of time.

Early in the year 1939, the broadcast outreach on shortwave was revived with a presentation in the same format as was noted previously The last broadcasts from Radio Nations that were reported in contemporary radio magazines were heard in December 1939.

Radio Broadcasting from the League of Nations

Time Lines

Year Date Event
1920 Jan League of Nations formed and extablished in Geneva, Switzerland
1929 Feb 1st broadcast from League of Nations, via PCJ Holland
1929 50 kW MW transmitter installed (at Prangins?) for Swiss Radio
1929 Sep Radio Nations established
1932 Feb 2 New Radio Nations at Prangins HBL & HBP 20 kW SW opened for traffic
1932 Sep Regular broadcasting USA & Europe from Radio Nations Prangins commenced
1935 Feb 4 Series of test broadcasts to Australia commenced
1935 Mar 4 Regular broadcasts to Australia commenced
1939 Radio Nations 3 transmitters re-activated, broadcasts to USA & Orient
1946 Apr League of Nations dissolved and replaced by United Nations

Radio Broadcasting from the League of Nations


Information & Reference
1st broadcast from LoN, landline to PCJ, begin Feb; 79.127b 35 LI 16-1-29

Station Profile 1933; SWC 83.2 1
Transmitters & antennas located at Prangins, near Geneva
2 SW transmitters @ 20 kW, 1 French & 1 Marconi from England
SW transmitters for telegraphy & telephony installed on ground floor
SW antennas-3 directional beam antennas & 3 omnidirectional antennas
1 MW 50 kW special room installed Marconi UK belongs to Swiss Radio
Receivers 3 groups, Telefunken & Bell, one group each SW, MW & LW
Receiver station located at Colovrex near Geneva
Programming 3/4 hr on Sundays 3 or 4 languages to different regions
HBP 38.48 Sun only HBL 31.27 Sun &Mon only 3/4 hr each 1935; Radiola Notes 83.4
Station Profile; LI 79.23 9-2-35 57
Technical same as SWC 83.2 1
Opened for traffic Feb 2, 1932
Regular broadcasting began September 1932
Test broadcasts to Australia began Feb 4 1935 regular to Australia Mar 4
Listed with programming in English French & Spanish, LI 79.23 5-10-35 36
Station Profile 1936; 84.161 18
Radio Nations established Sept 1929, plans for SW station
1925 Swiss plans – 2 SW 1 MW
Opened Feb 2, 1932
MW already in operation began 1929
Transmitters at Prangins, near Nyon, 20 kM from Geneva
Receivers at Colovrex, 8 kM from Geneva
Central Office in Federal Telegraph & Telephone Building
Studio in LoN Secretariat Building
HBJ 14535 program relay to Riverhead at night, HBO broadcasts; LI 79.23 3-10-36 34
HBP 14535, HBF 18450, HBH 18480, irregular; LI 79.23 dec 1938
HBQ 6875 kHz heard in Australia; R&H 79.11 4-39 51
HBO HBL & HBP now on again, all to North America 1940; ARW 77.8 1-1-40 32
HBF 18450 kHz to Orient; ARW 77.8 1-1-40 32
HBO & HBJ heard in Australia; R&H 79.11 1-40 71
HBL = Marconi & HBP = French transmitter; TDP 1998 57

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